Potential Benefits of Cannabidiol in Cancer Care
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and a pilot study at Augusta Medical Center in Georgia, cannabidiol (CBD) is potentially a treatment for melanoma. Early studies by Dr. Erika L. Simmerman and her colleagues show promise as a cancer treatment option.
The following link highlights their findings: Their conclusion, published in March 2019, states “We demonstrated a potential beneficial therapeutic effect of cannabinoids which could influence the course of melanoma in a murine model. Increased survival and less tumorgenicity are novel findings that should guide research to better understand the mechanisms by which cannabinoids could be utilized as adjunctive treatment of cancer, specifically melanoma. Further studies are necessary to evaluate this potentially new and novel treatment of malignant melanoma. Dronabinol and Nabilone are two synthetic cannabinoids that have FDA approval for the treatment of side effects of cancer therapies, but there has been no approval for cannabis as a treatment option. However, the processes for approval are lengthy, as in the case of the epilepsy drug Epidiolex. So, we should not be discouraged by the length of time required for testing, clinical trials, and approval. Cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal guidelines. This is one of the reasons that it is difficult to do research on a plant that has been widely used for centuries to treat a wide variety of medical conditions in many different societies. More action is required to have the Schedule 1 classification removed and to convince our elected officials that research should be expanded to find what the therapeutic benefits of this plant might be. Studies of compounds have been mostly on isolates (individual compounds). However, there is anecdotal evidence that those isolated compounds seem to have an improved effect and sometimes an effect that is multiplied with full spectrum consumption. Full spectrum includes all the other compounds within the plant, including terpenes and flavonoids. For example, Nabiximols is a cannabinoid that is currently being studied in the U.S. It contains a whole plant extract with THC and cannabidiol (CBD) in about a one-to-one solution that is administered as a mouth spray. In Canada and parts of Europe, it is used to treat cancer pain, as well as pain and muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis (MS). Although it is not yet approved in the U.S., there are clinical trials to determine its benefits in the treatment of several conditions.
In a statement on its website, the American Cancer Society recommends more research into the potential uses of cannabinoids in cancer treatment: “The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.” They go on to say that medical decisions about pain and symptom management should be made between the patient and his/her doctor.It is abundantly clear that much more research needs to be done regarding cannabis and its potential medicinal benefits. It is also clear that traditional research methods, study and future approvals have focused on just one or two of the many compounds, terpenes, and flavonoids within the cannabis plant. More work needs to be done on a full spectrum plant-based health benefit, known as the Ensemble Effect. Even the FDA is studying it. It is this author’s opinion that the federal Schedule 1 classification should be removed, which would open up more research and development possibilities. That change will require a grassroots movement to reclassify a plant that we urgently need to study in order to find more safe and natural treatment options. Many of us have already experienced positive effects and there is a potential for many more to be developed.We need to be aware of which compounds, terpenes and flavonoids are responsible for which effects. Otherwise we could experience adverse effects.
It is abundantly clear that more research is needed. Together we can lobby our legislators to create new health care policies that so many of us have wanted for years. Without the power of the people, we will have only anecdotal documentation with no scientific support of our hypothesis.