Anecdotal Reports on CBD Use and Tumors
Lung tumor shrinks in 81-year old COPD patient. Was it the CBD?
Nearly 230,000 people in the USA now have lung cancer. This type of cancer is typically is associated with poor prognosis. Sadly, a diagnosis could well be termed as a life sentence. Even when treatment is successful, relapses are not uncommon. And it is for this reason that patients have sought alternative remedies that can at least make life more bearable. Some anecdotal stories have gone around that cannabis is helpful in treating neoplastic conditions such as lung cancer, though there is not research to back this up.
Now, an anonymous 81-year-old ex-smoker adds to this growing body of anecdotal evidence.
Lung Cancer Patient Says Cannabis Shrank His Tumor
Doctors found a lung tumor in the patient’s body. But soon after, he stunned his doctors when scans showed his tumor had shrunk, seemingly without treatment. The debilitating symptoms had also improved significantly.
In his younger days, the patient was a chain smoker and later developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In October 2016, his breathlessness worsened. He was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. Considering the disease progression which had already spread to the lymph nodes, he was not a candidate for curative management. His doctors at Royal Stoke University recommended chemoradiation to shrink his lung tumor and relieve some of his symptoms before palliative care.
He declined. He knew the overwhelming side effects of chemotherapy. Since it would only ease pain rather than cure him, he opted out of it to maintain quality of life. So the patient opted for CBD oil. The doctors could not believe the immense changes witnessed on the scans just two months later.
Even Doctors Believe CBD Helped Shrink Tumor
The patient’s doctors believe CBD played a major role in shrinking the tumor. A scan taken on July 2017 revealed a 2.5 by 2.5cm cancerous tumor in the left lung which had metastasized to the lymph nodes. A scan taken four months later revealed a shrunken tumor measuring 1.3 by 0.6cm.
Dr Josep Sulé-Suso is the lead author in the article that was published in SAGE Open Medical Case Reports. When the patient was questioned about the decreased lung tumor mass, he revealed that, two months before the scan, he had started taking two drops of CBD oil every twelve hours before titrating up to nine drops every twelve hours. When his lung tumor shrank, he decided not to take CBD anymore, saying the oil made him feel sick. He had not altered anything else about his diet or lifestyle.
But just like most anecdotal evidence, this one event may not do much to change how medicine is practiced. We need a larger randomized clinical trial to confirm CBD’s efficacy in treating lung cancer symptoms and to rule out placebo effects.
Medicinal Uses For CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid compound found in the cannabis plant that has shown great therapeutic potential. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not cause euphoria. But, both THC and CBD have shown significant medical benefits together and separately.
CBD has been shown to help ease the symptoms of COPD. COPD usually causes chest tightness, wheezing, fatigue, weight loss, and breathlessness. A 2013 review concluded that smoking cannabis had no direct correlation with the risk for developing COPD, even though cannabis use could increase airway resistance, making breathing temporarily more difficult.
A later 2015 review of 19 studies showed that cannabis use increases forced vital capacity (FVC) of the lung. FVC is the maximum amount of air that a patient can exhale after taking a deep breath. Cannabis may help in resolving symptoms of COPD, such as breathlessness and chronic fatigue. These occur when a person cannot inhale enough oxygen. Some scientists believe that CBD and THC decrease inflammation of the airways and consequently help to open up the airways.
Cannabinoids and Cancer: What’s the Correlation?
There are many scientific studies that have tried to make sense of how cannabis affects cancerous cells and tumors. One recent study showed that both THC and CBD use different mechanisms to cause apoptosis – programmed cell death of cancer cells. This slows down the progression of cancer by shrinking the tumor.
Richard Nixon ordered a study on the effects of ‘marijuana’ for human health in the 1970s. The study aimed to link cannabis and lung cancer. However, researchers never publicized their findings. Perhaps because the findings weren’t quite what Nixon had wanted. Contrary to causing cancer, the study revealed that THC was effective in shrinking cancerous tumors in the lungs. During the study, “Researchers found that cannabinoids readily cross the blood-brain barrier and don’t have the toxic characteristics of other cytotoxic agents that were used at the time. This should have made THC an attractive medicine for further research.”
Hopefully, with legalization and advocacy, important human clinical trials will get underway.