Cancer Treatment & Cannabis Oil
Perhaps you have heard of the medicinal benefits of cannabis oil and you’re considering it for a friend, or loved one newly diagnosed with cancer. You might be hesitant because of the stigma surrounding anything with the word cannabis in it. Cannabis has been used to treat pain going back to 2900 B.C. It wasn't until 1970 that is was regulated and outlawed for medical use. It is important to understand the basics and the difference between cannabis and CBD oil before making this decision. Here is a more about cannabis oil, brief history, followed by answers to common questions, including the difference between related substances.
What is Cannabidiol? Cannabis vs. Cannabinoid (CBD Oil)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant that has psychoactive properties (acting on the brain to change mood or consciousness). It is THC in marijuana that causes these psychoactive effects or the “high”. Cannabis may contain up to 30% THC. Cannabis produces a resin with compounds called cannabinoids (CBD). Cannabinoids have virtually no THC and virtually no mind-altering effects on users. CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from the plant and then diluting it with coconut, hemp seed, or another type of edible oil.
What are the Medicinal Benefits of Cannabidiol?
Although research is limited, several animal and in-vitro (test tube) studies have shown potential benefits including:
✔ Anti-inflammatory effects (e.g. for chronic inflammation, acne, and pain conditions)
✔ Relieves Occasional Nausea
✔ Supports normal cartilage and joint function
✔ Blocking cell growth
✔ Preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors
✔ Relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
✔ Smoking cessation
✔ Anti-seizure properties
✔ Enhances Relaxation and Reduces anxiety (e.g. for PTSD and anxiety disorders)
Is Cannabis Oil Legal?
Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states, which is why it is sold over the counter in a variety of consumer products and available online without a prescription.
CBD Oil Benefits for Cancer
Research in the mid-1970s found patients who took THC oil capsules experienced greater pain relief than the control group. A 2018 study on five healthy subjects found inhalation of CBD oil produced calming, relaxation, and positive mood effects, while increasing hunger and decreasing pain. Additional studies are needed, but research suggests CBD oil has the potential for evoking therapeutic effects.
In 1980, the National Cancer Institute began distributing an experimental new drug called dronabinol, an oral form of synthetic delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cancer patients in San Francisco. Although studies indicated whole marijuana was more effective at alleviating chemo-related nausea than dronabinol, there were too many barriers in the 1980s to getting marijuana approved. Marketed as Marinol, the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1985 to treat chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Although it was developed prior to dronabinol, a similar synthetic-THC drug called Cesamet (nabilone) was not approved by the FDA until 2006.
Shopping for CBD Oil (CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil)
When shopping for CBD oil it is important to not mistake CBD oil for Hemp oil. CBD oil contains significant amount of cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is what has the medicinal properties. Hemp oil has a negligible amount of cannabidiol. Because the plants are related, some unscrupulous sellers of hemp oil are trying to market it for its medicinal value, which is minimal.
Price is usually good indicator of which oil is being sold. CBD oil usually ranges from $40-50 for 15ml bottle. It is also good to take a look at the CBD oil concentration. The label or product description should identify the CBD oil concentration. 10mg per ml or greater will indicate a reasonable amount of CBD oil. Finally look for oil that is organic and has no artificial flavors, preservatives or sweeteners.
CBD oil is the short form of the term cannabidiol oil. CBD oil is cannabis oil that has a significant content of cannabidiol. It is made from the flowers, leaves and stalks of hemp and not from its seeds like hemp oil. CBD oil has become very popular in the medical marijuana industry, because it can be helpful in the treatment of various conditions without the typical intoxicating effects of marijuana use.
Hemp oil, most commonly used for cooking, can be beneficial containing a lot of antioxidants and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It is fabricated from the plant called hemp. Hemp extract is taken from the seeds of the plant. While this type of oil can be extracted from all plants in the cannabis genus, industrial hemp is the only plant used for hemp oil. This type of hemp is specifically produced industrially and the amount of psychoactive substances that are contained in it is minimal. Hemp oil contains low levels of CBD – typically less than 25 parts per million
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Regulatory Science tested 23 products purportedly containing hemp oil and/or cannabinoid purchased online. Of these, 18 tested positive for the presence of at least one cannabinoid compound. Three contained less than 0.01 percent of a cannabinoid, and four products labeled as CBD didn’t even have trace amounts. If you are taking CBD oil for cancer, buy it from a reputable source like a state-licensed dispensary or read online product reviews to avoid taking what could be a placebo.
Taking an unflavored CBD oil can have an unpleasant or strong taste. We recommend a flavored oil. You can find oil flavored in mint, mint chocolate, and other flavors. We find the flavored oils a much more pleasant experience. Especially for those experiencing nausea from chemo treatments. It is recommended to take it under the tongue (sublingual), holding it there for 15 seconds before swallowing. Individuals with very sensitive stomachs may try rinsing it down with a liquid.
Here are two suggested CBD Oils:
How to Use CBD Oil for Nausea
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a significant problem for cancer patients. Animal and small human studies have shown a combination of THC and CBD is far more effective than placebo in preventing nausea and vomiting caused by some types of chemo. Although medical cannabis can cause mild adverse side effects, researchers concluded CBD added to other anti-nausea therapy is a viable method to alleviate CINV. The theory is that CBD alleviates nausea and vomiting by:
✔ Interacting with and modulating the neurotransmitter serotonin
✔ Triggering 5-hydroxytryptamine-1A (5-HT1A), a serotonin receptor
✔ Supporting anandamide (the “bliss molecule”), a natural enzyme, neurotransmitter, and endocannabinoid
Experts caution that CBD oil should be used in very small doses, because at higher doses, it can actually induce vomiting. The oil can be vaporized into the lungs, ingested orally, applied topically, or used as a suppository. It’s important to keep in mind cancer treatment with cannabis oil is not a first line approach, but many people find it helpful for alleviating both physical and psychological side effects of cancer.
Dosage for CBD Oil
Like with anything new it is best to start small and increase gradually. Your specific dosage will depend on your weight and how you absorb the CBD oil. CBD oil will effect everyone in a unique way. That being said a good general rule of thumb is to take 1-6MG of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. A higher dose may be needed for increasing levels of pain.
Dosage Chart and Instructions
The following chart can be used as a general guideline for dosage. We have also included a picture of a CBD oil label (above) to demonstrate how to determine dosage for a specific concentration. For example, let's say you weigh 175 lbs and are experiencing a medium level of pain. This will suggest you try a dosage of 22.5 mg of CBD concentration. This particular bottle has 50 mg per serving (per ml). So you would take a little less than a half of a serving or a little less than a half of a milliliter. For this bottle, this would be a little less than a half of the dropper. Looking for a bottle with a graduated dropper is helpful. As always, consult with a physician when in doubt.
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- Mrs. Review by Lynda
Your articles on CBD oil are the most informative yet. Speaking as a 67 yr. old retired nurse, I have done much research on this subject. My story is somewhat different than many on this site. I was born with a spinal condition and have been fighting it almost all my life. It is hereditary. I have a spinal cord stimulator implanted in my spine due to chronic pain and I have suffered with depression, inflammation, joint immobility, eight spinal surgeries, and having almost every disc in my spine fused. I have been on opioids for way too many years, at least 25 or more on the suggestion of physicians. I hate to admit that but it has been a huge part of my life and an important part of my story. In hindsight I regret it but would have had zero quality of life without the pain control. For many years getting off these drugs was constantly on my mind. I was always feeling the stigma of being on pain meds but at the same time I was afraid to get off of them. They were ruling my life and I was so tired of it. I was also so afraid of what I knew about withdrawal from opioids. I was even more afraid of the unknown. Marijuana is legal where I live and I had heard of the many medical benefits of it. I began researching those benefits and found much positive information on CBD oil. I also read a lot of negatives by those who are against any and all drugs. I think if many who are against marijuana were to be put in the shoes of cancer patients and others who suffer greatly, they may see things in a different light. There is something to be said for the saying "don't judge others until you have walked in their shoes." After much thought and sleepless nights, I decided to try and get off these meds by myself, which they say is not a good idea. I know I have a strong constitution and can be quite stubborn. Therefore I felt that trying to detox with the help of CBD oil was an option for me. I also knew that if I got into trouble, I had many who I could and would call on for help. I also had left over meds in case I could not do this. I did apprise my Family Physician of my plans and I knew I could count on him if need be. He is totally awesome. I did not consult my Pain Docs because I had done that only to be put on something stronger. I am not by any means saying that how I approached my situation is right, safe, or condoned. Anyone considering getting off meds should always consult professionals first. Also, everyones situation is different. My outcome, Thank God, was unbelievable. I am still in awe of how well it went. I only used the CBD oil for 5 days, off and on and only if the withdrawal symptoms were unbearable. I feel extremely lucky. January 30th I will have been off all these meds for 1 year. I honestly believe that I could not have done it without the CBD oil. I had cravings for the first week, but as time went by they became less and less. I did not have to continue the CBD oil except on very rare occasions. I sometimes get a craving when I have a crappy day but know most of it is in my head. I don't want anyone to think I am bragging. I still cannot believe I have come this far and I don't think about it much anymore. My adult sons keep reminding me that I should be very proud of myself. I also came to realize that the CBD oil helped to relieve some of my chronic pain. I know it also helped with my constant inflammation, which kept me up many nights. I started sleeping through the night again. I did not ever feel goofy or out of control on the oil as it had no THC in it. I see I have gotten carried away with my comments and I do apologize. I did want to attest to the positive effects CBD oil had on my life and future. It has benefitted me in so many way, if only temporarily when I needed it. Thanks for listening. (Posted on 01/06/2019)
- Chemo Patient Review by Nancy
I have metastatic breast cancer settled in my lungs. The drugs I’m presently taking is Ibrance 125 mg and Letrozole 2.5 mg tablet. My hair is very short and thin having bald areas. Areas of my head is sore and hurts. Nauseous sometimes but very tired. I do have a problem with my left hip which I was taking anti flammatory but it caused ulcers in my stomach and colon which I hope will repair themselves . Would this product help my depression hair loss/head sore, and the nausea feeling and my tiredness . Should I check with my oncologists first.(Posted on 10/17/2018)
- Great Info! Review by Sue
Thanks so much for the excellent information on cannabis. I've been thinking of trying it for a long time and this was helpful!(Posted on 10/02/2018)