Best cbd oil canada for cancer

CBD Oil For Cancer – June 2022

Whether one is struggling with this disease or knows someone who has received a cancer diagnosis , the question of whether CBD may help has probably crossed someone’s mind.

A 2016 study published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry examined the use of cannabinoids as anticancer agents (5 ) .

According to the study, which was conducted on animal models of cancer, there was evidence supporting the idea that cannabinoids could impede the growth of tumor cells .

CBD might also enhance the uptake or increase the potency of certain drugs used for cancer treatment , as another review published by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggested (6 ) .

  • A study published in the journal Oncotarget in 2019 demonstrated that CBD could initiate cell death and make glioblastoma cells more sensitive to radiation, without affecting healthy cells (7 ) .
  • A review of several studies showed cannabinoids as promising compounds in the treatment of gliomas (8 ) . Results were published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology in 2014.
  • Results of a 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Urology suggested that cannabinoids should be considered as agents for the management of prostate cancer (9 ) .
  • Another research in the journal Breast CancerResearch and Treatment showed the efficacy of CBD in pre-clinical representations of metastatic breast cancer (10 ) .
  • The results of a 2014 study revealed that a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with a high content of cannabidiol weakened colon cancer formation.

The same high-CBD extract inhibited colorectal cancer cell proliferation via the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors (11 ) .

  • On the other hand, a recent review in the Journal of Pancreatic Cancer focused on the potential use of cannabinoids for the treatment of pancreatic cancer (12 ) .

Data showed that cannabinoids might help slow down the growth and invasion of tumors.

  • Data presented in a 2019 review indicated that CBD might have had a role in the striking response in one lung cancer patient as a result of the self-administration of CBD oil (13 ) .
  • In another study , the authors found a promising relationship between cannabis and bladder cancer (14 ) .

After adjusting for age, race or ethnicity, and body mass index, researchers found that using tobacco only was linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Cannabis use only was connected to a 45% reduction in bladder cancer incidence.

While research has demonstrated that cannabis smoke still generates carcinogens, the correlation between inhaled marijuana and cancer remains inconclusive.

Still, further work is necessary to better assess the impact of CBD on malignant cells and its potential application in the treatment of cancer .

How CBD Oil Works to Help With Cancer

There are many types of cancer treatment , such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, stem cell transplant, and precision medicine (15 ) .

The types of treatment that individuals with cancer receive depend on the type of cancer they have and how advanced it is.

Some people with cancer have only one treatment. However, most people have a combination of treatments (16 ) .

The aim of most cancer treatment is to achieve remission, which means all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared.

When remission is unlikely, treatment can help relieve symptoms to help individuals with cancer feel as comfortable as possible and may allow them to live longer. This is called palliative treatment (17 ) .

CBD for Nausea and Vomiting

Doctors use chemotherapy to cure cancer, reduce the prospect of its return, or slow or stop its growth. Chemotherapy can also be used to shrink tumors.

While this treatment is valuable, it also brings about side effects that patients may feel the need to delay or quit the treatment altogether.

According to the National Cancer Institute , typical side effects of chemotherapy include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss , and anemia (18 ) .

Fortunately, most side effects are short-term and can be managed. They tend to gradually improve once treatment stops, and the normal, healthy cells recover (19 ) .

Studies have demonstrated that CBD might help with some of these cancer symptoms.

A 2014 review from the European Journal of Pharmacology established the potential of cannabis to limit or prevent nausea and vomiting from a wide range of causes (20 ) .

A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that, as an antiemetic (preventing nausea), CBD might help reduce nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy (21 ) .

CBD for Pain and Inflammation

Pain is the most common symptom in cancer patients , while inflammation is implicated in cancer development and progression.

During cancer treatment , about six out of ten people say they experience pain. People with advanced cancer are slightly more likely to experience pain (22 ) .

CBD may be useful in treating different types of chronic pain (23 ) .

A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management showed that THC :CBD extract was efficacious for pain relief in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by potent opioids (24 ) .

CBD may also help with inflammation. A 2016 animal study from the European Journal of Pain showed that CBD applied on the skin might help reduce pain and inflammation due to arthritis (25 ) .

CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory properties were also demonstrated in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (26 ) .

Inflammation may also be the cause of certain diseases and disorders, such as central nervous system (CNS) vasculitis (the inflammation of blood vessel walls in the spine or brain), inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), rheumatoid arthritis, and high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases (27 ) .

CBD for Improved Appetite

People who go through cancer treatment may experience loss of appetite, which can make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight.

Appetite stimulation by cannabinoids has been studied for several decades, particularly in relation to weight loss and malnutrition associated with cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or anorexia nervosa.

A study on the relationship between cannabinoids and food intake suggested that endocannabinoids could impact energy balance and food intake within the brain (28 ) .

A 2018 study conducted on 2,409 CBD users found that 6.35% experienced increased hunger as a side effect (29 ) .

Meanwhile, in a study done on children with epilepsy, results varied. Some children experienced an increase in appetite, while others experienced a decrease (30 ) .

More longitudinal research is necessary to understand the full effects of CBD on appetite, as it seems to vary.

Many factors may influence hunger when taking CBD, including genetics and the type of product used.

CBD for Anxiety, Stress, and Sleep Problems

Individuals diagnosed with cancer may experience emotions that induce anxiety , sadness, fear, sleep problems , and confusion.

A 2017 study published in Current Psychiatry Reports suggested that medium or high-dose CBD is associated with an increase in the percentage of total sleep (31 ) .

Research published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology in 2019 indicated that taking CBD oil might help address anxiety and sleep disorders (32 ) .

Results showed that CBD might help patients fall asleep and reduce the frequency of waking up at night.

The data also supported the use of cannabis to address the debilitating symptoms of cancer and its treatments, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain.

The authors of a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry looked at CBD’s effects on anxiety and stress (33 ) .

In the study, the group that took 300 mg of CBD experienced the most noticeable reduced stress response.

Results demonstrated that CBD could help reduce the response to stressful environmental factors when given in the optimal dosage.

In a 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal , sleep and anxiety scores were measured in human subjects, and the findings showed that CBD could hold benefits for anxiety-related disorders (34 ) .

CBD for Tumor Growth

Several studies in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics showed CBD-induced cell death of breast cancer cells , suggesting that the use of CBD oil might also suppress tumor growth (35 ) .

In a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Oncology , the results showed that the use of CBD in conjunction with anti-leukemia drugs made the drugs more effective (36 ) .

Researchers found that when certain cannabinoids are paired together, the resulting product could be combined with conventional anti-leukemia drugs, allowing the dose of the toxic agents to be substantially reduced yet remain effective.

Research in the journal Future Medicinal Chemistry demonstrated that cannabinoids might also prove beneficial in certain types of cancers activated by chronic inflammation (37 ) .

In such instances, cannabinoids , as anti-inflammatory agents, could either directly prevent tumor growth or suppress inflammation .

The Endocannabinoid System Explained: How CBD Oil Helps in Apoptosis and Immunity

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is primarily responsible for the regulation of different body functions, including mood, behavior, appetite, pain, sleep, and energy.

The ECS also impacts cell growth and apoptosis. Apoptosis is a natural body process where the cells are destroyed as part of a particular organism’s growth.

Cancer is caused by the abnormal proliferation and mutation of cells. Cancer cells develop because they no longer recognize the body’s signals that encourage or destroy cell growth.

A review published in the journal Toxicologic Pathology was conducted to examine apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death (38 ) .

The results of the study indicated that apoptosis should be carefully regulated because too few or too many cell deaths lead to diseases, including developmental abnormalities, autoimmune diseases, neurodegeneration, or cancer.

Apoptosis, also referred to as cellular suicide, is a normal process of cellular self-destruction that serves a healthy and defensive role in the body.

Cancer cells no longer acknowledge the body’s signals that encourage or destroy cell growth. Thus, as these cells grow and divide, they proliferate uncontrollably.

The endocannabinoid system is essential in the body because it also helps in regulating cell growth and death.

As cancer cells reproduce more rapidly than the endocannabinoid system can manage, metastasis occurs.

Metastasis is the process where cancer cells invade through the healthy tissues from the place where they first formed and spread to another part of the body.

The endocannabinoid system has two primary receptors: CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain, while CB2 receptors are situated in the immune system .

THC is the cannabinoid that latches onto the CB1 receptors and is responsible for mood, behavior, and other brain functions.

On the other hand, CBD binds to CB2 receptors, signaling for ‘invaders’ that are damaging to the body.

Apoptosis helps support the immune system through the critical role it plays during viral infections, killing off invaded cells before they spill over with virus particles.

For example, when a harmful invader, such a cold or flu virus, or the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, gets into the body, the immune system mounts an attack,

This attack, known as an immune response, involves various cells and unfolds over time. This act of self-sacrifice hampers the spread of viruses and can save the whole organism (39 ) .

The receptor activation helps the endocannabinoid system signal a warning to counteract the formation of tumors, impeding cancer development through inhibiting reproduction, metastasis, and tumor development.

Mixed Results

The studies on cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, and their impact on cancer and its symptoms did not always yield positive results.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reviewed numerous studies on the correlation between marijuana use and cancer and found that the research results varied (40 ) .

Studies published in the journal Cancer Medicine in 2018 looked into the current state and future perspectives of cannabinoids in cancer biology (41 ) .

While cannabinoids showed antitumor activity in animal models of cancer, further longitudinal studies are still needed to verify their efficacy and safety on humans.

In a 2019 study in the Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences , researchers recognized the antitumor effects of cannabinoids in various cancer types (42 ) .

However, these antitumor effects of cannabinoids have to prevail over their known immunosuppressive effects, which can potentially promote the production or formation of tumors.

In a study published in 2010 in the European Journal of Immunology , researchers using a mouse model found that cannabinoids can initiate the suppression of the immune system (43 ) .

Although this particular research involved cannabis containing tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), the results indicate that cannabinoids could make users more susceptible to some types of cancer .

CBD research is still limited when it comes to cancer prevention. Scientists would have to conduct longitudinal studies of humans with CBD alone, controlling for frequency of use and dosing.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Cancer

The Pros
  • Studies have shown that CBD may help with cancer symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, inflammation, sleep problems, anxiety, stress, depression , cancer pain, and loss of appetite.
  • Studies have also shown that CBD may help suppress tumor growth and strengthen immunity.
  • CBD has been well-received by several health agencies, like the World Health Organization (WHO), which states that CBD “is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile” (44 ) . CBD oil may be safer than most over-the-counter and prescription drugs that may have many side effects .
  • CBD is non-addictive, says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in a 2015 article. This characteristic makes CBD safe for daily intake (45 ) .
  • CBD oil may be purchased without a prescription in locations where they are legally available.
The Cons
  • Studies are too limited to determine whether or not CBD is an effective treatment for conditions other than the ones approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ).
  • As with the use of any natural chemical compound, there are risks involved in using CBD. According to the Mayo Clinic, possible side effects of CBD include drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite (46 ) .
  • CBD has been shown to interact with other drugs and alter how the body metabolizes certain medications, as a 2017 research revealed (47 ) . Consult with a health professional experienced in cannabis use before starting a CBD regimen or combining it with current prescription medications.
  • The lack of regulation on CBD products makes it difficult to determine whether the CBD gummies , tinctures , patches, balms, and gelcaps contain what the product label claims.

A 2107 review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed labeling inaccuracies among CBD products . Some products had less CBD than stated, while others had more (48 ) .

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Cancer

Alternative cancer treatments may not directly cure cancer. However, these treatments may help individuals with cancer cope with symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments .

Common symptoms, such as anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, difficulty sleeping, and stress, may be lessened by alternative treatments (49 ) .

Aromatherapy and essential oils may be used safely by cancer patients for short-term benefits.

These benefits include reducing anxiety and depression symptoms and improving sleep, according to a 2012 study (50 ) .

Meanwhile, studies have found that massage can help relieve pain in people with cancer. It may also help relieve anxiety, fatigue, and stress (51 ) .

CBD is also used in aromatherapy and massage, taking advantage of the cannabis plant ’s terpenes that are used to create an essential oil.

Terpenes are responsible for the flavors and aroma of cannabis and influence its effects by interacting with cannabinoids .

When combined with other essential oils, CBD stimulates one’s sense of smell and heightens the soothing benefits of a massage.

When applied topically, CBD oil gets absorbed into the skin and targets cannabinoid receptors found in the skin’s mast cells and nerve fibers.

The reaction gives a calming, anti-inflammatory effect with localized benefits all over the skin and muscles.

Massages are used as a wellness and healing practice, and with an infusion of pure CBD hemp extract , the therapeutic benefits increase.

How to Choose the Right CBD for Cancer

As shown in clinical trials and studies on cannabis and cannabinoids , CBD is not the only cannabinoid found in cannabis that can help treat cancer symptoms .

Hence, when choosing a CBD product , opt for one that contains the full spectrum of phytonutrients from hemp, including trace amounts of THC , terpenes , fatty acids, flavonoids, and essential oils.

Those with allergies to THC may use a broad-spectrum CBD oil , which is like full-spectrum CBD but without the THC that makes the user high.

However, regardless of the form of CBD product of choice, careful consideration must still be employed in selecting the best CBD oil to help suppress tumor growth and proliferation and relieve cancer symptoms.

  1. Research on the exact legal stipulations applicable to CBD in the area where it would be bought and used.
  2. Purchase only high-quality , non-GMO CBD products from legitimate and reliable brands. The majority of companies that manufacture the best CBD oil products grow their hemp from their own farm, or they purchase from licensed hemp producers.
  3. Research product reviews before buying from an online store. When purchasing from a physical store or dispensary, check whether the store is authorized by the government to sell CBD.
  4. Knowing the extraction methods used in making the CBD oil is also essential. Researchers of a study indicate that the Supercritical-CO2 process is recognized as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) in pharmaceutical manufacturing (52 ) .
  5. One important thing to look for in CBD products is certification codes. Several certification authorities approve certain products only after some thorough screening tests.
  6. Compare company claims about their products’ potency with that of the third-party lab results . Look for a certificate of analysis for every product purchased.

CBD Dosage for Cancer

The most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition is still unknown, Peter Grinspoon, M.D., said in an article posted in Harvard Health (53 ) .

CBD is mostly marketed as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements.

Thus, CBD consumers cannot know for sure that the product they buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. The CBD product may also contain other unknown elements.

The American Cancer Society supports the need for more longitudinal and extensive research on cannabinoids for cancer patients .

The Society recognizes the need for more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment (54 ) .

Clinical trials testing CBD as a single drug or in combination therapies in treating cancer are both warranted and urgently needed.

How to Take CBD Oil for Cancer

Currently, there is no clinical evidence that using CBD oil can treat or prevent cancer, says Pharmacist Jason Hou.

Hou is an integrative medicine specialist who manages Memorial Sloan Kettering’s About Herbs database.

Still, some people use CBD to alleviate cancer symptoms.

When CBD oil is ingested, some amount gets absorbed and becomes available in the bloodstream.

Then, when CBD binds to the cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, they trigger biological effects.

Other CBD edible products, such as CBD tincture , CBD gummies , and CBD gelcaps are likely absorbed and metabolized (broken down) in a similar manner as CBD oil .

CBD oil tincture may also be taken sublingually, with drops placed under the tongue.

According to studies, CBD oil has a sublingual bioavailability of 13% to 19%, with some studies putting it as high as 35% (55 ) .

Bioavailability is the extent and rate to which a compound or an active drug ingredient is absorbed and becomes readily available for the body to use (56 ) .

CBD may also be used in massage therapies or applied as a lotion, cream, balm, or salve. There is, however, limited absorption through the skin with topical CBD oil .

For topical products, look for keywords on the product labels that indicate that the product uses nanotechnology, encapsulation, or micellization of CBD.

These words indicate that their solution can carry CBD through the dermal layers, rather than just staying on the skin.

CBD oil vapes are one of the quickest ways to get CBD into the body since it enters the bloodstream through the lungs, without going through the digestive system.

However, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the Society’s advocacy affiliate, opposes the smoking or vaping of medical marijuana and other cannabinoids in public places.

Carcinogens in marijuana smoke pose numerous health hazards to the patient and others in the patient’s presence (57 ) .

Comparing CBD and THC

CBD comes from cannabis and is naturally found in hemp plants . CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids that occur naturally within the plant. This compound is also commonly used to produce CBD hemp oil supplements.

Cannabis oil is a term used to refer to any extract of the cannabis plant , including marijuana plant and hemp plant , that removes the plant’s naturally thick, viscous oil from dried or fresh cannabis.

Medical marijuana , also called medical cannabis , is made of dried parts of the Cannabis sativa plant.

Hemp seed oil is produced by extracting the oil from the seeds of the hemp plant itself. This oil is abundant in nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it ideal for digestion.

Although some people refer to “ hemp extract ” as hemp oil , the term “ hemp oil ” is synonymous with the term “hemp seed oil.”

Chemical compounds in cannabis, called cannabinoids , have shown various potential benefits by activating the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) .

The ECS is involved in regulating a variety of body processes and functions, including sleep, appetite, pain, and immune system response (58 ) .

The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system.

The medicinal efficacy of cannabis can be optimized by incorporating the various cannabinoids , flavonoids, and terpenes that are intrinsic components of cannabis plants .

CBD is non- psychoactive , contrasting with THC (delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol ), another primary cannabinoid .

THC is the most significant factor contributing to the high associated with using cannabis.

Consuming CBD without any THC does not produce those effects, which means that nearly everyone should be able to function as they usually do when taking CBD.

The lack of high lets one continue with work, school, and other commitments without a decrease in performance.

The absence of psychoactive effects also makes CBD oil safe to take , even for those who must pass regular or random drug tests.

CBD oil must not contain any THC for CBD not to induce psychoactive effects.

Products containing CBD isolates do not have THC , while full-spectrum CBD oil products do.

The full spectrum of cannabinoids , terpenes , fatty acids, and essential oils extracted from the plant all work together in synergy.

This synergy magnifies the therapeutic benefits of individual cannabinoids and produces a phenomenon known as the “ entourage effect .”

Any product that one buys should also state the percentage of THC , information which one can also get from its certificate of analysis.

CBD and Synthetic Cannabinoids in FDA -Approved Drugs

CBD is used in the treatment of some types of epilepsy, such as Dravet’s Syndrome, a complex disorder in children that is associated with a high rate of mortality and drug-resistant seizures.

Epidiolex ( cannabidiol ) oral solution is the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of seizures in individuals two years of age and older (59 ) .

The scientific study of cannabinoids has led to two FDA -approved drugs, dronabinol, and nabilone. These medications contain THC in pill form (60 ) .

  • increased appetite
  • reduced nausea
  • pain relief
  • decreased inflammation (swelling and redness)
  • better muscle control

THC was also shown to help stop the growth of cancer cells .

In a 2014 study with rodents published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, results suggested that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can delay the progression of cancer cells from one of the most severe types of brain tumors (61 ) .

Dronabinol and nabilone are both synthetic forms of THC and are used to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy.

These drugs also increase appetite in patients with extreme weight loss caused by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

The United Kingdom, several European countries, and Canada have approved nabiximols (Sativex), a CBD and THC -infused mouth spray.

Sativex is used for muscle control problems due to multiple sclerosis (MS), although it is not FDA -approved.

Sativex mouth spray has demonstrated its efficacy not only for helping with pain management in patients with chronic neuropathic pain, pain due to nerve damage, peripheral neuropathic pain, advanced cancer pain, and rheumatoid arthritis but also for spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS) (62 ) .

Conclusion

The mechanism by which CBD works is still not fully understood. However, experts recognize its ability to work through a variety of pathways in the body and induce different therapeutic effects. More scientific research is still needed.

It is essential to understand both the possible benefits and cancer risks of CBD in medical use, either as adjunct cancer therapy or for improving health conditions .

Consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use before using CBD or cannabis products to alleviate cancer symptoms or treat diseases.

For more information on cancer and the different types of cancer, cancer.gov may be an excellent resource.

Cancer.gov is the website for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the U.S. government’s principal agency for cancer research.

NCI links users of cancer.gov website directly to the National Library of Medicine (NLM)’s PubMed database for journal citations.

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Cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes

Cannabis comes from the cannabis plant. The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is a type of cannabinoid. There are many other types of cannabinoids in cannabis. Cannabinoids are chemicals that act on certain receptors on cells in our body, especially cells in the central nervous system .

Some people believe that cannabis can help control or relieve some of the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer treatments. But research studies done so far do not give a clear answer about the effectiveness of smoking cannabis. Research does show that some cannabinoids can help with some symptoms and side effects, and drugs containing cannabinoids have been developed to treat pain, nausea and vomiting.

Medical cannabis

Medical cannabis is legal in Canada, and recreational cannabis is legalized as of October 2018. The Canadian government allows seriously ill people access to cannabis for medical reasons. This is commonly called medical cannabis.

People who want to use cannabis for medical purposes must get a medical document (like a prescription) from a doctor or nurse practitioner. With this document, they can purchase cannabis for medical purposes through licensed producers in Canada. It comes in many forms including dried cannabis, cannabis oil, or fresh cannabis buds or leaves that can be smoked, vaporized, or eaten in food

Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations give people with cancer the option to use cannabis for medical purposes to help manage their symptoms and side effects. Talk to your healthcare team about the benefits and risks of using medical cannabis. They can help you decide if it is right for you.

Relieving symptoms and side effects

Using cannabis, drugs containing cannabinoids or both may help you relax and give you a sense of well-being. But studies on the effectiveness of cannabis have had different results. Some people with cancer may find using cannabis or drugs that contain cannabinoids helps them cope with these symptoms and side effects.

Nausea and vomiting

Several studies have shown that some cannabinoids can relieve nausea, vomiting or both. These are side effects of some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Nabilone (Cesamet) is a pill that has synthetic cannabinoids. It is approved in Canada to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It’s sometimes given to people with cancer if standard antinausea drugs do not help relieve these symptoms.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is a common problem for people with cancer. Loss of appetite and weight loss (which is called cachexia when it is severe) often occur together.

Some people find that cannabis can increase their appetite. Several clinical trials looked at cannabis’s effects on appetite or weight loss in people with cancer. To date, these studies haven’t shown for certain that cannabis can effectively improve appetite. Research into whether or not cannabinoids can help people with cancer deal with loss of appetite hasn’t had clear results.

Find out more about loss of appetite.

Some people claim that cannabis can help relieve long-term (chronic) or severe pain. Research studies done so far do not give a clear answer about the effectiveness of cannabis to relieve pain.

Some clinical trials showed that cannabinoids help reduce pain in some people.

Sativex is a combination of delta-9-THC (Tetranabinex) and cannabidiol (Nabidiolex). It has been approved for use in Canada as a spray that can be applied to the cheek inside the mouth. Savitex may be used to relieve pain from advanced cancer that can’t be relieved with the strongest dose of opioids.

Find out more about pain and opioids.

Side effects and risks of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes

The benefits and risks of cannabis for medical purposes have not been thoroughly reviewed by Health Canada, and individual products have not gone through an approval process. When approving a drug, Health Canada reviews the evidence to make sure that the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks and negative side effects. Talk to your healthcare team if you are thinking about using cannabis for medical purposes or other drugs that contain cannabinoids. There is not enough information to know how using cannabis will interact with drugs and cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.

  • problems with memory and concentration
  • sensory changes, including a lack of balance and slower reaction times
  • dry mouth
  • rapid heart beat
  • a rise in blood pressure

Ongoing research into cannabis and cannabinoids

Currently, researchers are studying cannabis and drugs that contain cannabinoids to find out more about how they might effectively relieve symptoms of cancer or side effects of cancer treatments. More research is needed to find out the dose and type of cannabis that helps the most with the fewest side effects, the risks and benefits of using medical cannabis for a long time and how medical cannabis might interact with other drugs used to treat cancer.

Researchers are also still trying to find out if cannabis or cannabinoids should be used as medicine to treat certain diseases, including cancer. Research into the effects of cannabinoids on cancer cells in vitro and on experimental animals has shown some promise. But this research is still in the very early stages. Much more study is needed before cannabis or cannabinoids can be used as a cancer treatment.

Expert review and references

Borgelt LM, Franson KL, Nussbaum AM, Wang GS. . The pharmacologic and clinical effects of medical cannabis. Pharmacotherapy. 2013.

Brisbois TD, de Kock IH, Watanabe SM, Mirhosseini M, Lamoureux DC, Chasen M, MacDonald N, et al . Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol may palliate altered chemosensory perception in cancer patients: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Annals of Oncology. 2011: http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/9/2086.full.pdf+html.

Callaghan RC, Allebeck P, Sidorchuk A. . Marijuana use and risk of lung cancer: a 40-year cohort study. Cancer Causes and Control. 2013.

Chakravarti B, Ravi J, Ganju RK . Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in cancer: current status and future implications. Oncotarget. Impact Journals; 2014: http://www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path[]=2233.

Cridge BJ, Rosengren RJ . Critical appraisal of the potential use of cannabinoids in cancer management. Cancer Management and Research. Dove Medical Press; 2013: http://www.dovepress.com/critical-appraisal-of-the-potential-use-of-cannabinoids-in-cancer-mana-peer-reviewed-article-CMAR.

Duran M1, Pérez E, Abanades S, Vidal X, Saura C, Majem M, Arriola E, et al . Preliminary efficacy and safety of an oromucosal standardized cannabis extract in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2010: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2997305/pdf/bcp0070-0656.pdf.

Farquhar-Smith WP . Do cannabinoids have a role in cancer pain management?. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care. Wolters Kluwer; 2009.

Hall W, Degenhardt L . Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use. Lancet. Elsevier, Inc; 2009: http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(10)60087-6.pdf.

Health Canada, Drugs and Health Products. Information on the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. Ottawa: 2016: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-use-marijuana/medical-use-marijuana.html.

Huang YH, Zhang ZF, Tashkin DP, Feng B, Straif K, Hashibe M . An epidemiologic review of marijuana and cancer: an update. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. American Association for Cancer Research; 2015.

Johnson JR, Burnell-Nugent M, Lossignol D, Ganae-Motan ED, Potts R, Fallon MT . Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC:CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. Elsevier; 2010.

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Machado Rocha FC1, Stéfano SC, De Cássia Haiek R, Rosa Oliveira LM, Da Silveira DX . Therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Cancer Care. Wiley; 2008.

Moulin D, Boulanger A, Clark AJ, Clarke H, Dao T, Finley GA, Furlan A, et al . Pharmacological management of chronic neuropathic pain: revised consensus statement from the Canadian Pain Society. Pain Research & Management. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4273712/pdf/prm-19-328.pdf.

Parker LA, Rock EM, Limebeer CL . Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011.

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Zhang LR, Morgenstern H, Greenland S, Chang SC, Lazarus P, Teare MD, Woll PJ, et al . Cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk: Pooled analysis in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. International Journal of Cancer. Wiley; 2015.