According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the world, and currently around every third person will get it during their lifetime. CBD and the endocannabinoid system have been widely studied in relation to cancer. This article examines the endocannabinoid system in the context of cancer, what cancer is and whether CBD oil could help manage cancer or cancer-related symptoms.
What is cancer?
Cancer is an umbrella term for a large number of different diseases. People with uniform cancer only have an uncontrolled distribution of cells in the body, otherwise the cancer can be anywhere, any kind and with a wide spectrum of different symptoms.
Cancer is especially a disease of the elderly, but it occurs in people of all ages, from babies to adults. Today, the prognosis for survival and recovery is good, and more and more people are making a full recovery as treatments develop. Nevertheless, it is thought that in the next few years, cancer will overtake even heart diseases in the death statistics. (1)
A benign tumor remains in place, grows moderately and is usually easy to treat. A malignant tumor forms metastases and the dividing cells spread to other parts of the body, becoming part of the body, while a benign tumor remains as its own separate body, isolated from itself by the body’s healthy cells and tissues.
The most common types of cancer
There are many different types of cancer and they are named according to where they originate. Prostate cancer is the most common in men, breast cancer in women. Cervical tumors also occur in women. Lung cancer is one of the most common, and colon and rectal cancer are the most common intestinal cancers. Less common, but common are e.g. bladder, kidney and esophageal cancer. (2)
Where does cancer start?
Tumor growth starts from a single cell, which begins to divide uncontrollably. It is usually a slow chain of events in which the information the cell inherits about cell growth and division is damaged. (1)
Genes located on chromosomes are behind everything. Human hereditary factors, i.e. genes, control the functioning of the cell and sometimes mutations occur in genes. When there are enough of these mutations in the same area of the body, they start to form a tumor. (1)
Gene activity is influenced by environmental factors such as the air we breathe, the food we eat and the atmosphere we live in. (1)
The acidity of the body is one factor in the development of cancer. The body is strongly alkaline when a child is born and it slowly becomes acidic towards old age. Acidification is natural, but it happens faster due to the influence of the environment, such as as a result of drinking a lot of coffee and unhealthy food.
Cancer and its many symptoms
The symptoms of cancer can actually be anything depending on its location. In all types of cancer, the symptoms are also different among patients, but usually they appear in the area of the body where the tumor is located. In skin cancer there are changes on the skin, in brain tumors there are disturbances in the body’s functions, in lung cancer there may be cough and breathing difficulties, in intestinal cancer bloody stools or digestive problems, etc. (1,2)
Common symptoms of cancer include e.g. pains, general weakness and loss of appetite. In addition to cannabinoidshave been studied in terms of tumor eradication, their use has also been extensively studied to treat general symptoms.
Symptoms of the final stage of the disease
When it has been determined that the cancer cannot be treated medically, palliative treatment is usually used, i.e. treatment that relieves symptoms and improves quality of life. It includes alleviation of pain and symptoms, and e.g. fulfilling psychological, social and spiritual needs.
However, there is always hope. The most touching healing stories can be found on social media and blogs on the internet. People who received a death sentence from a cancer diagnosis share their own experiences of how they have miraculously recovered from cancer. Others say they drank conifer extract drink, others carrot-apple juice. Some have healed themselves with diet and supplements, and some even with fasting. What all these happy ending stories have in common is that these people sincerely trusted in their own healing. They have had hope, faith and gratitude for life and the power of healing.
According to user experiences, CBD oil is a good supportive treatment alongside palliative care, as it has been found to help precisely those symptoms that occur most often.
Does cancer show up in blood tests?
Cancer research has developed enormously in recent decades. The tumor is verified with a combination of research methods, including blood tests, scanning and taking samples.
Blood tests are already taken at the stage when cancer is suspected and cancer type markers are looked for, possible elevated kidney and red blood cell values are examined, and the concentration of blood storage iron, or ferritin, is measured. (1)
The endocannabinoid system and cancer
The endocannabinoid system is the body’s security system, whose task is to monitor and balance all the functions that take place in our body. It is present in almost all animals and humans in the world, and its malfunctions are thought to be somehow involved in all diseases of both body and mind.
In several studies, the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the origin and development of cancer has been demonstrated. Endocannabinoids and their receptors have been noticed to increase during cancer, which by no means means that the endocannabinoid system is actually involved in the worsening of cancer. Rather, the more endocannabinoids and receptors there are in a tumor, the more aggressive the tumor is. Endocannabinoids and the receptors that receive them are, as it were, in a larger group resisting this disease that consumes the body. (3,4)
The endocannabinoid system and its communication has been found to be involved in the regulation of cell survival, movement and death. (3,4,5)
Cannabinoid receptors are everywhere in the body. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain, while CB2 receptors are common in tissues responsible for the immune system. Both receptors are present in tumors, but the regulation of cancer progression seems to be mainly controlled by the CB2 receptor. (4)
On a general level, we could say that both CB receptors (CB1 and CB2) and their endogenous ligands increase in tumor tissues. Their overexpression is directly related to the aggressiveness of the tumor, and the levels of the receptors can be used to predict e.g. probability of survival. (4,7)
Other body receptors
Almost all functions in the body go through receptors. There are many different types and they all have their own important tasks. A few receptors that are essentially related to cancer have been raised here.
TRPV channels are common receptors in the body. This family includes six different channels and they are numbered TRPV1, TRPV2, etc.
TRPV receptors are strongly associated with CBDand in its antitumor activities. In different types of cancer, cell death occurs through different pathways, but usually it is dependent on the activity of one of the TRPV channels. Depending on the location and quality of the tumor, some kind of combination of receptors is usually used. It has been noticed that sometimes CBD uses, for example, CB1, CB2 and TRPV1 receptors, while in the case of another tumor it uses CB2 and TRPV2 receptors. This is a great demonstration of the complexity of how the endocannabinoid system works! (3,6)
GPR55, also called the third CB receptor, and its amount in the body is related to the rapid proliferation and movement of tumor cells in several types of tumors (4,6). In general, the effect of CBD depends on the combination of these receptors.
Endocannabinoid levels vary greatly between different tumor types.
The levels of the most well-known endogenous cannabinoids AEA (anandamide) and 2-AG (2-arachidonylglycerol) have been found to be either lower or higher in tumors compared to healthy tissue (4,7). Endocannabinoids also work in pairs or groups and thus create an interactive effect. For example, the combination of anandamide and oleamide inhibits cell proliferation. (7)
Endocannabinoid system in cancer treatment
It has been stated several times in studies that treatments targeting the endogenous cannabinoid system are the future. According to many studies, the background of all body imbalances manifested as diseases is some degree of disturbance in the endocannabinoid system, which is why specific treatments aimed at it could be very effective. However, more research is needed, because there are always questions, especially with synthetic single endocannabinoids and exocannabinoids. Hemp has been found to work best synergistically i.e. so that all the beneficial substances in the plant such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. are used by the body.
Synthetic, i.e. man-made preparations that mimic endocannabinoids have brought good results in drug tests, despite the fact that their mechanism of action is a complex mystery. They have been reported to reduce tumor growth and aggressive metastasis. Synthetic inhibition of MAGL and FAAH enzymes, the natural degraders of endocannabinoids, has also shown anticancer activity. (3,4,6,7)
Cannabinoids in cancer treatment
Several studies suggest that cannabinoids are able to suppress inflammatory responses by reducing the production of cytokines and chemokines and increasing T-regulatory cells. Similar results were also obtained with endocannabinoids.
The effect of cannabinoids on inhibiting tumor growth has been demonstrated in both benign and malignant tumors. Cannabinoids can induce natural cell death and prevent the tumor’s own blood vessels from forming. (7)
Cannabinoids have been found to be effective e.g. you can read more about the treatment of insomnia here. They may also help with various pains, which you can read more about in the article Pain and CBD oil.
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the most studied external cannabinoids in the body. CBD has been found to have strong proapoptotic effects. Apoptosis is the natural death reaction of cells, as a result of which cancer cells also die. CBD is also antiproliferative, meaning it prevents cells from multiplying. (3,6,8)
As an antiangiogenic CBD prevents the formation of new blood vessels in the tumor area, and as it is also anti-metastatic, it prevents the formation of metastases. (3,6,8)
The use of CBDshows, in the light of research, that it increases the possibility of survival, and mitigates several side effects of different cancer and cancer treatments.
CBN, CBC and CBG
CBD oil to support cancer treatments
CBDhas been studied a great deal. It has been found in several studies to alleviate cancer-related symptoms, as well as to interfere with tumor growth (3,6,8). In general, CBD oil is very well tolerated and is suitable as a medicine or to support other treatment for children, adults and even animals.
Cannabinoids have been found to sensitize tumors, e.g. for chemotherapy. The body may develop drug resistance to the tumor, and cannabinoids apparently break down this tumor’s own resistance. (4)
Cancer is treated with many different methods. Chemotherapy, radiation treatments and numerous different drugs make it possible to treat even difficult cancers, but they are often followed by a wide variety of life-threatening side effects. The most common of these are probably loss of appetite, nausea and various mood challenges.
Natural treatment and possible prevention
A healthy, well-being body is the best and actually the only possible tool against cancer. Avoiding diseases is challenging, because today’s rhythm of life is extremely hectic, goal-oriented and stressful. Due to the impoverishment of the soil, we no longer get the nutrients we need from food, and the amount of pesticides and preservatives used in the cultivation of plants (including animal feed) is high. These affect the body’s resistance.
Certain vitamins have a negative effect on tumors. One of the most effective is selenium, which, like CBDis a mineral that promotes cell death. Selenium can be obtained e.g. Brazil nuts and it is in a highly absorbable form, e.g. also in Huminiqum capsules .
Selenium also has a positive effect on DNA damage, hormone production and challenges such as chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. There is only very little selenium in the Finnish diet, so the dose of selenium that protects against cancer is often missed. (9) The safe daily dose of selenium is 20-300 micrograms (µg) per day and it should be taken into account that selenium can cause poisoning when the dose is more than 4 milligrams, i.e. 4000 µg per day (10).
In addition, sulforaphane, especially found in bean sprouts and raw broccoli, is also good for cancer patients, as are foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, rose hips and citrus fruits.
Good quality, versatile food contains plenty of different nutrients that the body needs, and because the body is wise, it knows how to heal itself and always strives to function optimally. In order to heal, the body needs time, rest and sufficient quality food with possible supplements. Clean drinking water is an important element, as is a sufficient amount of fresh outdoor air.
Cancer is often a challenging, life-stopping disease, at least momentarily. Treatment methods have increased and improved enormously in the past decades, but there is still no miracle pill for cancer treatment that would simply erase the symptoms without side effects. Researched drugs targeting the endocannabinoid system, making CBD oil a part of life and healthy optimized lifestyles are the cancer treatment of the future and support comprehensive well-being.
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- Duodecim terveyskirjasto. Cancer. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/haku?q=syöpä. Referred to 20.7.2022
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- Fraguas‐Sánchez A., Martín‐Sabroso C., ja Torres‐Suárez A.. 2018. Insights into the effects of the endocannabinoid system in cancer : a review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6003657/. Referred to 20.7.2022
- Bifulco M. ja Di Marzo V.. 2002. Nature Medicine. Targeting the endocannabinoid system in cancer therapy: A call for further research. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Maurizio-Bifulco/publication/11330003_Targeting_the_endocannabinoid_system_in_cancer_therapy_A_call_for_further_research/links/00b4951dc3c337696a000000/Targeting-the-endocannabinoid-system-in-cancer-therapy-A-call-for-further-research.pdf. Referred to 20.7.2022
- Seltzer E., Watters A., MacKenzie D., Jr. Granat L. and Zhang D.. 2020. Cannabidiol (CBD) as a Promising Anti-Cancer drug. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Zhang%20D%5BAuthor%5D. Referred to 20.7.2022.
- Velasco G., Hernandez-Tiera S., Davila D. ja Lorente M.. 2016. Science direct. The use of cannabinoids as anticancer agents. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584615001190.Viitattu 20.7.2022
- Moreno E., Cavic M., Krivokuca A., Casadó V., ja Canela E.. 2009. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00339/full. Referred to 20.7.2022
- K. Jaakkola. Terveyskirjat.fi. Erikoislääkäri Kaarlo Jaakkolan vastaanotolla: Selenium fights cancer. https://terveyskirjat.fi. Referred to 09.08.2022
- H. Jalonen. Selenium. https://www.bonusapteekki.fi/Apteekkarin-neuvot/Seleeni. Referred to 09.08.2022.