Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CBD and Cancer

Part 2 in Storm Crow's look at the little known but highly effective medical ingredients in cannabis.

Cannabis bud
Courtesy: wikipedia
Storm Crow for Salem-News.com
(NORTHERN Calif.) - There is a lot more to cannabis than just THC. Although the press and science have focused on THC because of its effects on the brain, the other cannabinoids are potent medicines in their own right. Studies reveal that CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, may affect cancer cells of many types. Breast cancer, leukemia and glioma (a rather nasty brain cancer) are all slowed, or even killed by CBD.

I usually put in something amusing into my articles, but I find nothing amusing about cancer. Both of my grandmothers died of it. So please forgive me if I do not amuse you this time, but "cut straight to the chase".

In 2006, a study called "Anti-tumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma," (see: Breast cancer: Antitumor Activity of Plant Cannabinoids with Emphasis on the Effect of Cannabidiol on Human Breast Carcinoma) compared the effect of five different compounds found in cannabis on an aggressive breast cancer. CBD was the clear winner.

In a short article about the study, it was stated "Cannabidiol (CBD) was the most potent cannabinoid in inhibiting the growth of human breast cancer cells injected under the skin of mice. (see: Science: Cannabidiol inhibits tumour growth in leukaemia and breast cancer in animal studies)

CBD also reduced lung metastases deriving from human breast cancer cells that had been injected into the paws of the animals." To put it simply, CBD slowed the growth of the breast cancer and kept it from spreading into the lungs.

The glioma studies (see: Glioma apoptosis: Inhibition of Glioma Growth in Vivo) and (Glioma apoptosis: Cannabidiol triggers caspase activation and oxidative stress in human glioma cells) are very interesting, since the CBD attacked only the cancerous brain cells while leaving healthy brain cells untouched. Gliomas are one of the most malignant forms of cancer, resulting in the death of affected patients within 1–2 two years after diagnosis. Current therapies for glioma treatment are usually ineffective or just palliative. So how does CBD work to inhibit gliomas and other cancers?

Cells normally die through a process called apoptosis. Normal cells die after going through their programmed lifetime--but cancer cells refuse to die and begin to multiply rapidly. CBD "tells" the abnormal cancer cells that it is time to die by setting off the normal chain of events in programed cell death. The normal cells don't need to be "told" and are left alone.

But CBD doesn't stop there with putting a halt to gliomas. One of the things cancers do is to grow a lot of extra blood vessels to support their rapid growth. This is why a mole that bleeds when you scratch it may be suspected of being skin cancer. In a Spanish study, (see: Glioma blood vessels: Cannabinoids Inhibit the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Pathway in Gliomas) two glioma patients (stage IV) received CBD injected directly into their tumors, for 16 and 19 days respectively, before their tumors were removed surgically. Both showed evidence of regression of the blood vessels to the tumors. The authors considered the results as "promising" and worthy of further study.

A third area where CBD is "promising" is in the treatment of leukemia. In the study "Cannabidiol-Induced Apoptosis in Human Leukemia Cells", (see: Leukemia: Cannabidiol-Induced Apoptosis in Human Leukemia Cells) we find this in the abstract- "Exposure of leukemia cells to cannabidiol led to cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2)-mediated reduction in cell viability and induction in apoptosis. Furthermore, cannabidiol treatment led to a significant decrease in tumor burden and an increase in apoptotic tumors in vivo." Which is a fancy way of saying CBD killed the leukemia cells and reduced the number of tumors. And again, the authors urge further study.

Aside from feeling relaxed, there are no noticeable effects from CBD, even with very large doses.

On the other hand, modern medicine's chemotherapy is the practice of using poisons that are slightly more toxic to cancer cells than healthy cells. The idea is to poison you just enough so all the cancer cells die, while you, as an organism, live. A lot of healthy cells die in the process. Some patients die in the process. Even at its best, chemotherapy makes you feel very sick.

CBD or chemo? Which treatment sounds better to you?

Of course, these studies are just preliminary and need to be duplicated, refined and studied further. We need to examine the effects of CBD on these and other cancers. Until then, we are stuck with chemotherapy and all of its side effects. We must reschedule cannabis for research.

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