CAN CANNABIS PREVENT CANCER?

THE TRUTH VERSUS HOPE


Screenshot_4.jpg

There has been endless speculation about the power of cannabis the plant, in particular, certain cannabinoids in fighting and preventing cancers but what is the truth behind the hype? A more prudent question is what does the science says?

When seeking these answers our only option is to refer to the clinical research in this field. Below I explore such evidence on the effects of CBD on certain cancers including breast, bladder, colon, leukemia, lung and prostate as well as the effects of cannabigerol (CBG).

We take a look at the evidence available at the minute to support the theories on cannabis and cancers.  We outline the results and look at evidence suggesting that the non-psychotropic cannabis-derived compound, cannabidiol (CBD), has antineoplastic activity in multiple types of cancers, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

It is said that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exhibits antitumor effects on various cancer cell types, but its use in chemotherapy is limited by its psychotropic activity. A study carried out in the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Pozzuoli National Research Council, Italy investigated the antitumor activities of other plant cannabinoids, i.e., cannabidiol, cannabigerol, cannabichromene, cannabidiol acid and THC acid, and assessed whether there is any advantage in using Cannabis extracts (enriched in either cannabidiol or THC) over pure cannabinoids. Results obtained in a panel of tumour cell lines clearly indicate that of the five natural compounds tested, cannabidiol is the most potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth (1) May 25th 2006.

Evidence supporting the anti-tumor effect of cannabinoids is still in its infancy but quickly becoming a growing area of scientific investigation. Numerous studies have demonstrated the anti-tumor effects of various cannabinoids and even some terpenes, independently. However, it’s unknown if these anti-tumor effects could be enhanced through the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect is defined as a beneficial effect of all these compounds working together as opposed to just one or two of these compounds working in isolation, in the case of cannabis it is the benefit of multiple cannabinoids and terpenes working together to enhance the treatment effectiveness. In a recent study by scientists (Sandra Blansco-Benito, Marta Seijo-Vila, Miriam Caro-Villalobos, Isabel Tundidor, Clara Andradas, Elena Garcia-Taboada, Jeff Wade, Stewart Smith  Manual Guzman, Edwardo Perez-Gomez, Mara Gordon, Cristina Sanchez) at the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain. The entourage effect was put to the test on breast cancer tumors in female mice. Scientists compared the effect of THC alone against a whole-plant cannabis preparation in the ability to limit tumor growth and kill its cells. As predicted by the study, the whole-plant preparation had stronger anti-tumor effects than THC alone. Furthermore a combination therapy of just the five most abundant terpenes (Beta-Myrcene, Limonene, Alpha-pinene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Linalool) in the preparation had no effect on tumor growth, either on its own or in combination with THC, suggesting that the anti-tumor properties of the whole-plant preparation resulted from a combination of the many cannabinoids. (2) October 24, 2018

Furthermore, research has shown CBG works to fight inflammation, pain, nausea and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells and it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Strains high in CBG will be beneficial in treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and cancer. (3, 4, 5 & 6) .

The anti-cancer effect of the plant-derived cannabinoid, cannabidiol, has been widely demonstrated both in vivo and in vitro. However, this body of preclinical work has not been translated into clinical use yet. Many variables may be the reason for this non successful clinical evident, namely, narrow dose effects, the cell model used and incomplete efficacy.

These study results indicate that cannabidiol causes a reduction in cell size, which persists post-treatment. However, more clinical evidence is required.





REFERENCES TO PRIMARY LITERATURE

  1. ANTITUMOR ACTIVITY OF PLANT CANNABINOIDS WITH EMPHASIS ON THE EFFECT OF CANNABIDIOL ON HUMAN BREAST CARCINOMA. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/16728591

  2. THE ANTI-TUMOR EFFECT  HTTPS://WWW.LEAFLY.COM/NEWS/HEALTH/MEDICAL-MARIJUANA-RESEARCH-STUDIES-FALL-2018

  3. COLON CARCINOGENESIS IS INHIBITED BY THE TRPM8 ANTAGONIST CANNABIGEROL, A CANNABIS-DERIVED NON-PSYCHOTROPIC CANNABINOID. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/25269802

  4. A CANNABIGEROL QUINONE ALLEVIATES NEUROINFLAMMATION IN A CHRONIC MODEL OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/22971837

  5. A CANNABIGEROL DERIVATIVE SUPPRESSES IMMUNE RESPONSES AND PROTECTS MICE FROM EXPERIMENTAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALOMYELITIS. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/24727978

  6. BENEFICIAL EFFECT OF THE NON-PSYCHOTROPIC PLANT CANNABINOID CANNABIGEROL ON EXPERIMENTAL INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/23415610



ADDITIONAL READING

  1. CBD ANXIOLYTIC PROPERTIES HTTPS://WWW.SEMANTICSCHOLAR.ORG/PAPER/EFFECTS-OF-CANNABIDIOL-(CBD)-ON-REGIONAL-CEREBRAL-CRIPPA-ZUARDI/128EFABADA8288561B7D452D597AF22B0ECF4ED4

  2. APPRAISING THE “ENTOURAGE EFFECT”: ANTITUMOR ACTION OF A PURE CANNABINOID VERSUS A BOTANICAL DRUG PREPARATION IN PRECLINICAL MODELS OF BREAST CANCER HTTPS://WWW.SCIENCEDIRECT.COM/SCIENCE/ARTICLE/ABS/PII/S0006295218302387

  3. ANTITUMOR ACTIVITY OF PLANT CANNABINOIDS WITH EMPHASIS ON THE EFFECT OF CANNABIDIOL ON HUMAN BREAST CARCINOMA. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/20859676 PATHWAYS MEDIATING THE EFFECTS OF CANNABIDIOL ON THE REDUCTION OF BREAST CANCER CELL PROLIFERATION

  4. HTTPS://WWW.SCIENCEDIRECT.COM/SCIENCE/ARTICLE/ABS/PII/S0006295218302387

  5. ANTITUMOR EFFECTS OF CANNABIDIOL, A NONPSYCHOACTIVE CANNABINOID, ON HUMAN GLIOMA CELL LINES. HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PUBMED/14617682



GLOSSARY

Anxiolytic

Also, antipanic or antianxiety agent - is a medication or other intervention that inhibits anxiety.

Apoptosis

The death of cells which occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism's growth or development.

Cell proliferation

The process that results in an increase of the number of cells and is defined by the balance between cell divisions and cell loss through cell death or differentiation.

CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis.

CBG

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that plays an important role in the biochemistry of the cannabis plant. CBG acts as a chemical precursor to other cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. CBG reacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. CBG, however, acts as a buffer to the psychoactivity of THC by working to alleviate the paranoia sometimes caused by higher levels of THC.

Entourage Effect

Beneficial effect of all these compounds working together as opposed to just one or two of these compounds working in isolation

In vitro

Latin for within the glass - refers to the technique of performing a given procedure in a controlled environment outside of a living organism

Non psychotropic

Any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior is psychotropic

adjective- affecting mental activity, behavior, or perception, as a mood-altering drug.