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CBD For Improvement Of Cancer-Related Symptoms

Some studies suggest that CBD might alleviate nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite associated with cancer and chemotherapy. 

Research suggests these drugs may improve the quality of life and taste of food in cancer patients. In fact, two drugs[20] made from synthetic forms of THC, Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone), are approved by the FDA in the United States to alleviate cancer-related symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, neither of these drugs contains CBD.

However, oromucosal sprays[21] containing CBD such as Sativex may alleviate cancer-associated pain difficult to control by potent opioids.

A small human study[22] from 2016 suggests that Sativex relieved chemo-induced nausea and vomiting. The study suggests CBD may be an excellent way to reduce nausea-induced chemo, but more clinical trials are needed.

Another review[23] suggests that CBD may play a role in the palliative care of cancer patients by reducing insomnia, depression, and pain.

An animal study[24] from 2011 found that CBD may improve nausea in cancer patients by interacting with serotonin levels. 

Excess serotonin throughout the body can cause nausea and vomiting. Serotonin blockers[25] such as Ondansetron are commonly used to alleviate nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

Fortunately, there are ongoing studies to investigate the potential benefits of cannabis-based oils in cancer patients. Researchers[26] are currently recruiting for a study to determine an optimal THC and CBD combination to ease cancer patients’ anxiety, insomnia, pain, and nausea. 

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4.1. CBD for Tumor Reduction

In addition to alleviating unpleasant symptoms associated with cancer, CBD may also slow tumor growth and destroy cancer cells. 

review[27] from 2020 highlighted the ability of CBD to inhibit malignant cell growth in various types of cancer, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.

In another study[28], researchers took a look at two patients with high-grade gliomas receiving 50 grams of CBD containing less than 0.3% THC via oral capsule. They also were receiving chemoradiation along with multiple medications. Both patients had positive responses to the treatment combo, which suggests CBD may improve chemoradiation response.

Additionally, one case study[29] from 2019 highlighted an older man who refused traditional treatment for his lung cancer. After nearly one month of self-administration of 2% CBD oil, a CT scan showed near-total resolution of his tumor. It also revealed a significant reduction in the size and number of mediastinal lymph nodes. 

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CBD For Pain Relief

In 2019, over 49,000[30] people died from opioid-involved overdoses. The growing number of opioid-related deaths has led physicians to be more hesitant to prescribe opioids to treat pain.  This leaves many people who suffer from chronic pain searching for natural, non-addictive ways to manage pain.

Chronic pain is widespread yet very challenging to treat. It is estimated to affect nearly 50 million[31] adults in the United States.  Furthermore, 19.6 million[31] adults experience chronic pain that interferes with working and living a normal lifestyle.  

CBD is believed to relieve pain by interacting with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Essentially, these receptors are tiny proteins that are attached to cells throughout the body. They receive signals from different types of stimuli to help cells respond. When the receptors in the ECS are activated, it may alleviate pain and fight inflammation. 

One review[32] from 2018 looked at the ability of CBD to relieve chronic pain. The studies included various types of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and cancer-related pain. 

Researchers concluded CBD to be effective at relieving pain. There were no adverse side effects observed in the review of studies.

CBD For Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis[33] (MS) is a progressive, disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. This is because, in patients with MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system. 

While there is no cure for MS, treatment heavily lies around symptom control. One of the most common symptoms of MS is muscle spasm-induced pain.

Although research surrounding direct CBD use with symptom relief remains limited, there is solid evidence to support using an oromucosal spray called Sativex[34] to treat symptoms associated with MS. 

Sativex is approved in many other countries but is not approved by the FDA for use in the United States at this time. However, clinical trials are in progress to seek initial approval.

Sativex[35] is a cannabis-based, anti-spasticity medication containing equal parts THC and CBD. 

According to a literature review from 2014, Sativex[36] may effectively treat spasticity symptoms, pain, and urinary frequency related to MS.

One study[37] from 2018 showed that Sativex improved driving abilities due to reduced spasticity symptoms in MS patients.

Additionally, another study[38] from 2018 suggests that CBD may alleviate symptoms such as fatigue, pain, spasticity, and mobility associated with MS. It also mentions that, when combined with THC, CBD may counteract unwanted psychotropic effects and anxiety while enhancing its therapeutic properties.

Lastly, the National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)[39]suggests modest benefits of cannabinoids for chronic pain and multiple sclerosis symptoms. 

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