Cannabis is a drug made from the dried leaves and buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Some people smoke or eat marijuana for the “high” it gives, but it’s also getting a look from experts for the chance that it can play a role in helping with certain medical conditions.
Cannabis, better known to most folks as marijuana or pot, might have the potential to ease pain and other symptoms of lung cancer. But so far, there’s no evidence it can work as a treatment for the disease.
What’s in Cannabis?
The active ingredients in cannabis are chemicals called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) gives the “high” people get when they use marijuana. Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t cause the same euphoric feeling, but it does relax the body.
American Cancer Society: “Signs and Symptoms of Cancer.”
Nausea and vomiting. Medical marijuana may help relieve these symptoms, which are common chemotherapy side effects. The FDA has approved two man-made cannabinoid drugs to treat nausea and vomiting: nabilone (Cesamet) and dronabinol (Marinol).
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. It has been touted in some online forums as an alternative treatment, and even a cure, for many illnesses, including cancer. And, some people with cancer say that CBD has helped them as a complementary therapy in managing their symptoms and side effects from standard cancer treatment.
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.
What is CBD?
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.
There are 2 synthetic cannabis medications, nabilone (Cesamet) and dronabinol (Marinol or Syndros), that are FDA-approved to treat nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy. These medications are made in a laboratory.
There is currently 1 CBD treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called Epidiolex, which is used to treat a rare and severe form of epilepsy in children. There are not currently any FDA-approved CBD medications for treating cancer or side effects of cancer treatments.