Yet there’s very little research around CBD and its use in treating people with cancer. Here’s what to know about what CBD is and what science currently shows about whether it’s safe and effective for people with cancer to use.
It is also important to note that some studies have shown that CBD might interfere with how your body processes cancer drugs, called a drug interaction. This might make cancer treatments more toxic or make them less effective. More research is needed on these effects, too. For these reasons, always tell your oncologist if you’re thinking about using CBD before you take it.
What is CBD?
CBD comes from cannabis plants called hemp that are specifically grown with high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. Cannabis plants grown with high levels of THC are usually called marijuana. CBD comes from oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant. That oil can then be ingested as a liquid, a capsule, a gummy, or inhaled through vaping. It can also be added as an ingredient in such products as lotions and skin patches.
CBD is 1 of the hundreds of chemicals found in the flowering cannabis plant. CBD does not have the psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects of another chemical found in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical that causes people to experience a “high.” CBD, on the other hand, is being used by some to help ease pain, anxiety, and sleep issues.
You may find stories online of people discussing the benefits of CBD as a cancer treatment or as relief for side effects. Please remember that such personal stories, while they may be well-meaning, are shared without scientific study and do not constitute evidence. The safety and efficacy of CBD for people with cancer still has to be proven in large, randomized, controlled clinical trials.
Certain types of cancer may also bring on seizures, which can be extremely distressing to witness. CBD is a known compound that can help reduce the duration, number, and severity of seizures in humans and dogs. Minimizing seizures can be a very compelling reason to add CBD to your dog’s cancer treatment plan.
Turkey Tail Mushroom supplements are another natural option for augmenting cancer treatments. This mushroom has been used medicinally for centuries in many cultures, and there is promising research pointing toward its use in helping animals with cancer. Because neither CBD nor mushroom supplements have known side effects, adding both of them may be beneficial for supporting your dog’s health while living with cancer.
Does CBD help with a dog’s cancer pain?
There are three categories of CBD to consider for dogs with cancer: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Each has its benefits, and the ideal choice will depend on your pup’s situation.
Pain and inflammation can be side effects of cancer treatment or a symptom of the progression of the disease itself. Pain management is almost always a crucial part of how to treat cancer in dogs. You will want to ask your veterinarian about adding CBD to your pain management plan, but it can be a way to add another layer of relief, naturally and without side effects.
To address the side effects of cancer and treatments, give your pet CBD consistently. Typically, relief will be best achieved by dosing twice a day. The usual dosing guidelines are to offer 1 – 5 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day, but dosage amounts can vary quite a bit from one situation to the next. It may be necessary to experiment to find the right amount, and how often to give.
“The CBD variety looks to have greater efficacy, low toxicity and fewer side-effects, which potentially makes it an ideal complementary therapy to combine with other anti-cancer compounds.”
The next phase for the study includes investigating what makes cancer cells sensitive and normal cells not, whether it is clinically relevant, and whether a variety of cancers respond.
“ANTG wanted me to test it against cancer, so we initially used leukaemia cells and were really surprised by how sensitive they were,” Dr Dun says. “At the same time, the cannabis didn’t kill normal bone marrow cells, nor normal healthy neutrophils [white blood cells].
The Dun team has run comparisons between THC-containing cannabis, and cannabis lacking THC but with elevated levels of CBD. They found that, for both leukaemia and paediatric brainstem glioma, the CBD-enriched variety was more effective at killing cancer cells than THC varieties.
“We are very pleased to see three years of collaboration with UON and HMRI deliver such exciting findings in the fight against cancer. ANTG remains committed to its patient-centric mission of understanding the massive therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis,” Matthew Cantelo, CEO, Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, said.
“There are trials around the world testing cannabis formulations containing THC as a cancer treatment, but if you’re on that therapy your quality of life is impacted,” Dr Dun says. “You can’t drive, for example, and clinicians are justifiably reluctant to prescribe a child something that could cause hallucinations or other side-effects.
“Hopefully our work will help to lessen the stigma behind prescribing cannabis, particularly varieties that have minimal side-effects, especially if used in combination with current standard-of-care therapies and radiotherapy. Until then, though, people should continue to seek advice from their usual medical practitioner.”