The use of cannabidiol, in the form of CBD extract or oil, has attracted considerable attention in recent years thanks to its potential curative properties, especially for the control of complexities and symptoms inherent in various types of cancer. Every day we have more studies to refer to that give a clearer picture about the potential and also limitations of CBD oils.
CBD for cancer management
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a Phytocannabinoid with no psychotropic activity that exerts some of its effects through modulation of elements within the endocannabinoid system. It is common nowadays to find publications suggesting that cannabinoids, especially CBD, have the ability to "cure" conditions of this type.
While such headlines can attract a lot of attention to drive research and collective interest, they can also have the opposite effect: they may fail to notify readers correctly through misrepresentation in reporting outcomes or leaving out key information.
It is, therefore, crucial to analyse both the content and sources of such reports, thereby separating noise from relevant and valuable information.
The Start of Cancer
Every life starts with a fertilized egg, whose cells divide infinite times. The process of cell growth is an essential part in the life of each human being, which must be meticulously managed to assure proper tissue and organ growth.
Once adulthood is reached, much of our cells stop this process of division; however, other types of cells must follow the same path to ensure the replacement of ineffective cells (e.g., blood cells, skin and intestinal cells). Lamentably, uncontrollable mutations in one or more of our genes result in abnormal functioning in cell cycle regulation machinery; in other words, extreme and uncontrolled growth of cells transpires, developing malignant tumours.
This phenomenon is known as Cancer.
It is essential to mention that the vast majority of cancer-causing mutations are due to external factors acting on genes and tumour-suppressing genes. These include:
- Physical or chemical agents called carcinogens.
- Ultraviolet, gamma, nuclear, and possibly electromagnetic radiation.
- Various viruses, including Human Papillomavirus (HPV) or herpes.
What We Know About Experimental Models
First, to be able to know the context in which the results have been obtained, it is necessary to recognize the model of study implemented; it is essential to look under what conditions CBD oil was used for research. There are a lot of reports using animal models, among them mice, rats and in more complicated mammals such as pigs, as well as tumour cell lines in vitro.
Following the results achieved within these models, CBD properties such as slowing tumour cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis (cell death) and interference in the metastasis process are reported. These results are certainly encouraging, but it should be remembered that human subjects tend to be more complex, both molecularly and genetically.
What Interests Us: Human Trials and the Effect of CBD
Secondly, and more relevant to us, are clinical trials with human patients. Professor Guzmán from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid developed the first clinical trial in Spain to analyse the antitumor effect of cannabinoids in patients with early-stage glioblastoma. the result was 8 out of 9 patients showed some positive response in decreasing tumour growth rate, just one showed no effect. It is interesting to note that no adverse effects were reported during the development of this study.
“Many doctors continue to see cannabinoids as an abused drug, this, plus the volume of "paperwork" and the low commercial interest of natural components that cannot be patented make research and information limited.” - Guzman, PhD
Also, we have anecdotal reports about patients and family members attesting to the effectiveness of CBD extracts and oils to reduce and control both symptoms and adverse effects. These document a total recovery of appetite and weight gain, a considerable decrease in pain, cessation of hair loss, calming nausea, and even the destruction of cancer cells. While these reports are not scientific evidence, the sheer number of such reports means they should not be ignored.
To generate interest in the research and development of unconventional therapies based on CBD extracts and oils, it is crucial to educate both doctors and patients about the potential and also limitations related to these compounds.