Despite its current federal illegality, cannabis continues to demonstrate enormous promise as a treatment option for a variety of illnesses and ailments. While much of the research into cannabis has focused on one specific cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the primary psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis – more recently researchers have begun experiments looking into the potential medical benefits on the second-most common cannabinoid present in cannabis: cannabidiol (CBD).
To help those curious learn more about cannabis and its potential benefits to health and wellness, we are publishing a series of brief blog posts detailing specific areas in which CBD has been shown to provide benefits to patients.
Next up in this series: how CBD can potentially help fight cancer.*
Given that the preferred method of consumption for most cannabis consumers is the inhalation of burned or vaporized marijuana, the idea that CBD could have anti-cancer properties may seem a strange proposition. For the past several decades the American public has been educated on the dangers cigarettes pose, so it is no surprise that people would assume the smoking of cannabis would present similar issues.
However, tobacco and cannabis are not the same, and although the inhalation of any kind of smoke can have negative health consequences, the CBD contained in cannabis can potentially work to counteract some of these negative consequences. For example, one of the earliest studies looking into the impact of cannabis on cancer took place in 1974, when a team at Medical College of Virginia discovered that cannabis appeared to inhibit malignant tumor cell growth both in cell cultures and in mice.
Several studies since have shown that the benefits of CBD include anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects that work to inhibit cancer cell migration, adhesion, and invasion. One study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, found that CBD inhibited the growth of different breast cancer tumor cell lines, while also exhibiting dramatically less potency in non-cancerous cells. Similarly, research conducted in 2011 found that CBD induced a concentration-dependent cell death of breast cancer cells, and that the effective concentrations of CBD in tumor cells had little to no effect on non-tumorigenic mammary cells. One study conducted by the California Pacific Medical Center even suggested that CBD seemed to “turn off” a gene involved in the spread of breast cancer.
Indeed, the evidence of CBD’s beneficial impact on cancerous cells has become so robust that the National Cancer Institute details numerous studies on its website regarding the anti-tumor effects of CBD. One study, for instance, suggests that CBD “may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors.”
While many studies have demonstrated the powerful anti-cancer properties of cannabis in general and CBD in particular, there is still much more to learn. People who are considering including CBD in their treatment regimen should discuss it with their doctor.
*LivWell Enlightened Health makes no claims regarding the health or medical benefits of cannabis.