U.K. researchers observe shrinking tumors following CBD treatment.
To date, research has shown that cannabinoids exhibit anti-tumoral effects in multiple in-vitro studies. But, how it works has continued to be a subject in need of adequate study and human trials.
A recent study endeavored to find out how cancer patients responded to CBD administration. Published in Anticancer Research (2018), the research shows data from 119 cancer patients taking synthetic CBD over a four-year period. And the results were astonishing!
An overwhelming ninety two percent of 119 patients treated with CBD showed either a reduction in tumor size, or an overall reduction in tumor cells. To add to these impressive results, there were no side-effects from the consumption of CBD.
These findings support further research into the possibility of breast cancer and other tumor treatment with CBD.
Synthetic CBD Vs. CBD in Cannabis
Why did those U.K. researchers use synthetic CBD for their study? And is synthetic CBD different from CBD sourced naturally from the cannabis plant?
Despite the fact that synthetic CBD is not able to fully represent the medicinal properties of full spectrum cannabis medicine, or even CBD extract, it is easier for scientists to obtain. Strict regulations have made it difficult for researchers to gain access to CBD plant material. Cannabis’ Schedule I status in the U.S. means the application process for researchers is daunting and fraught with political agendas. Getting approval for human trials has also been challenging.
A second reason to use synthetic CBD is that when it comes to CBD flower and oil, lack of regulation has made it difficult to rely on the plant’s genetic composition. A article published in Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids (2018), found that CBD oils around the world display incorrect label information from batch to batch, even when coming from the same chemovar. They also concluded that various CBD oils may also contain unknown contaminants. These factors make standardized dosing a challenge. Synthetic CBD, on the other hand, is consistent in dose and content. This ensures results that can be reliably tested against a control and also repeated in peer studies.
CBD Flower is Difficult to Access for Researchers
One of the few sources for CBD flower available to scientists is at the University of Mississippi. However, the flower grown at this facility can vary from what is available to the public. Reports say that this federal farm produces cannabis of a much lower quality and THC potency is capped at eight per cent.
Researchers have also found it more difficult to run trials with CBD flower and oil. Problems lie in the route of administration. Oral methods are slow in regards to absorption; and inhalation methods (smoking/vaping) carry potential health risks. Standardized techniques do exist for administering CBD via smoking or vaping. But, these have proven difficult to perform correctly. Scientists have also found it difficult to create a placebo for CBD flower. Basically, producing something that smells and tastes like CBD, but isn’t CBD, is a challenge.
Synthetic CBD will also lack other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found in whole plant material.
How CBD Works for Tumor Treatment
A study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (2011) showed how CBD may lead to reduction in tumor growth. Using mouse models of breast cancer, researchers discovered that CBD reduces Id-1 gene expression. The Id-1 gene is a pro-metastatic gene that is an aggressiveness marker in breast cancer. By turning off this gene, CBD promotes a down-regulating effect. This in turn reduces cancer aggressiveness.
Other studies have found that cannabinoids may block angiogenesis. This is accomplished by reducing expression of the ligand and its receptors in the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway. Thus, tumors are unable to continue to grow and produce new blood vessels.
Not only does CBD show the potential to stop tumor growth, it’s also noted as being low in toxicity. This means it could be ideal for combination with other cancer treatments and pharmaceuticals. Anecdotal reports have also claimed that CBD effectively reduced tumors in cancer patients.
CBD Isn’t the Only Cancer Fighting Cannabis Compound
Along with cannabinoids, scientists have also discovered that terpenes and flavonoids have potential for successful tumor treatment. For instance, myrcene has showed promising anti-metastatic activity. Linalool promotes cancer cell death. Flavonoids might inhibit proliferation, inflammation, invasion, and metastasis of cancer cells.
By shutting down the process of metastasis, cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids present a potential tumor treatment that is non-toxic and plant-based. To date, synthetic CBD does not contain the same compound profile as natural CBD. However, due to regulation, dosing and availability challenges, a complete understanding about the effects of these compounds is still elusive. Still, the fact that it works in the animal model, is promising news for cancer patients.
Synthetic CBD pharmaceuticals offer a way for scientists to study the interaction between CBD and cancer cells. Yet, if we are to truly push forward with research into medical cannabis, plant-based CBD will need rigorous study as well.