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.
There have been some studies that show that CBD, alone or together with THC, may relieve pain, insomnia, or anxiety, but these studies were not specific to people with cancer. While no studies to date have shown that CBD eases these side effects specifically in people with cancer or people receiving cancer treatment, some people with cancer have reported benefits in taking CBD, such as helping with nausea, vomiting, depression, and other side effects. According to ASCO guidelines, your doctor may consider prescribing cannabinoids for chronic pain management if you live in a state where it is legal. However, ASCO guidelines state that there is not enough evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for preventing nausea and vomiting in people with cancer receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
What is CBD?
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.
Studies to answer this question are underway. Some scientists are studying whether CBD could relieve some of the side effects of cancer and its treatment, such as pain, insomnia, anxiety, or nausea. Other scientists are studying whether CBD could potentially slow or stop the growth of cancer.
Can CBD help people with cancer?
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.
There have been reports that cannabinoids like THC and CBD may be helpful for nausea and vomiting and anorexia, as well as neuropathy, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Synthetic cannabinoids like dronabinol have been approved for use with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, but have not been shown to be superior to conventional anti-nausea medications.
CBD oil (cannabidiol) is everywhere these days. Once available only at novelty or vitamin shops, it’s now also at your local grocery store, pharmacy or even yoga studio.
The main difference is that hemp has far less THC than a typical marijuana plant. And unlike THC, CBD is not a psychoactive agent, so there’s less possibility that it will cause the same mental confusion, drowsiness or hallucinations that often come with THC.
And in lab studies, CBD has been shown to inhibit certain enzymes responsible for the metabolism of drugs, such as CYP2D6 and CYP3A4. This can affect how drugs work and affect our bodies, either by reducing their efficiency or making them more dangerous. This includes chemotherapy and other medications.
Ashley Glode, PharmD, BCOP, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science provided Fight CRC with a medical perspective for CBD and medical cannabis.
Her clinical, research, and scholarship interests include supportive care interventions to maximize treatment dose intensity while minimizing toxicities and improve patient quality of life, and evaluate the use of integrative therapies, dietary supplements, and cannabis in cancer patients.
CBD by itself will not show up on an employer’s drug test. The FDA states that CBD products must be at least 99.7% pure CBD and allows only 0.3% THC to make it legally consumer ready. CBD may stay in your system anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks. That timeframe can change depending on a variety of factors, including metabolism, consumption method, frequency of use, and dosage. Therefore, if a large amount of THC is found in the CBD you are using, it may show on a drug test. Make sure you read the label of the product you are using and that it meets these regulations and guidelines.
Is CBD legal?
Victor Melgar, Chief Operations Officer of NALA Health tells us that NALA was started with the simple idea that CBD could pave the way for all natural healing and remedies through the power of cannabis. However, CBD is only part of the equation. In fact there are over 100 active and inactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
The components we know most about are THC and CBD. Products may be more predominantly THC or CBD, or be more of a 1:1 blend. THC and CBD exert different effects in the body; therefore, a patient may want a predominantly CBD- or THC-based product based on the indication. I recommend patients keep a journal of what they took and when, what their goal was (such as a decrease in pain from a 7 to a 4, resolution of nausea so they may eat a meal, etc.), if they achieved that goal, and any side effects they may have experienced. This helps guide any adjustments that need to be made to products or dosage that is used.
CBD for Medical Use
Cannabidiol (CBD) is in the news and on the internet, but what is it, and how can it help you?
Products exist for each route of consumption. For example, sublingual products include CBD oils of all types taken underneath the tongue. Inhalation products include CBD flower and CBD concentrates, such as shatter and wax. Ingestion products are CBD edibles, such as CBD honey or CBD-infused food. Topical products are absorbed through the skin, so products can include CBD lotion, massage oils, salves, creams, and transdermal patches.