Sativex is a cannabis-based medicine. It is licensed in the UK for people with Multiple Sclerosis muscle spasticity that hasn’t improved with other treatments. Sativex is a liquid that you spray into your mouth.
CBD is a cannabinoid that may relieve pain, lower inflammation and decrease anxiety without the psychoactive ‘high’ effect of THC.
Different types of cannabis have differing amounts of these and other chemicals in them. This means they can have different effects on the body.
The results of one trial showed that Sativex did not improve pain levels. You can read the results of the trial on our clinical trials website.
Hemp oil comes from the seeds of a type of cannabis plant that doesn’t contain the main psychoactive ingredient THC. Hemp seed oil is used for various purposes including as a protein supplement for food, a wood varnish and an ingredient in soaps.
Yet there’s very little research around CBD and its use in treating people with cancer. Here’s what to know about what CBD is and what science currently shows about whether it’s safe and effective for people with cancer to use.
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.
What is CBD?
You may also be wondering if CBD is legal in your area. Some states allow the sale and possession of cannabis, including CBD and THC, for medical and recreational use. Others have stricter regulations, so state-by-state laws should always be learned before transporting CBD across state lines. Things are more complicated at the federal level. In 2018, the U.S. government recognized that hemp can be grown and manufactured legally as part of the Farm Act. Hemp can be used to make things like rope and clothing, in addition to CBD oil. In other words, hemp is no longer a controlled substance, which means it is not regulated by the government. This means that consumers have to evaluate the safety and quality of CBD products on their own. Some CBD, for example, may have much higher levels of THC than what is labeled.
There is much about CBD that is still unknown. It has largely gone unstudied because, until 2018, it was considered a schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). A schedule I drug is a drug that has been declared illegal by the DEA because of safety concerns over its potential for abuse and because there is no accepted medical use for it. Then, in September 2018, the DEA updated CBD’s status to become a schedule V drug. Schedule V drugs have a lower potential for abuse and are deemed to have some medical use.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. It has been touted in some online forums as an alternative treatment, and even a cure, for many illnesses, including cancer. And, some people with cancer say that CBD has helped them as a complementary therapy in managing their symptoms and side effects from standard cancer treatment.
A systematic review assessing 19 studies that evaluated premalignant or malignant lung lesions in persons 18 years or older who inhaled Cannabis concluded that observational studies failed to demonstrate statistically significant associations between Cannabis inhalation and lung cancer after adjusting for tobacco use. In the review of the published meta-analyses, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report concluded that there was moderate evidence of no statistical association between Cannabis smoking and the incidence of lung cancer.
Three trials have evaluated the efficacy of inhaled Cannabis in chemotherapy-induced N/V.[43-46] In two of the studies, inhaled Cannabis was made available only after dronabinol failure. In the first trial, no antiemetic effect was achieved with marijuana in patients receiving cyclophosphamide or doxorubicin, but in the second trial, a statistically significant superior antiemetic effect of inhaled Cannabis versus placebo was found among patients receiving high-dose methotrexate. The third trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial involving 20 adults in which both inhaled marijuana and oral THC were evaluated. One-quarter of the patients reported a favorable antiemetic response to the cannabinoid therapies. This latter study was reported in abstract form in 1984. A full report, detailing the methods and outcomes apparently has not been published, which limits a thorough interpretation of the significance of these findings.
Data from 2,970 Israeli cancer patients who used government-issued Cannabis were collected over a 6-month period to assess for improvement in baseline symptoms. The most improved symptoms from baseline include the following:
Patients often experience mood elevation after exposure to Cannabis, depending on their previous experience. In a five-patient case series of inhaled Cannabis that examined analgesic effects in chronic pain, it was reported that patients who self-administered Cannabis had improved mood, improved sense of well-being, and less anxiety.
An Israeli retrospective observational study assessed the impact of Cannabis use during nivolumab immunotherapy. One hundred forty patients with advanced melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and renal cell carcinoma received the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab (89 patients received nivolumab alone and 51 patients received nivolumab plus Cannabis). In a multivariate model, Cannabis was the only significant factor that reduced the response rate to immunotherapy (37.5% in patients who received nivolumab alone compared with 15.9% in patients who received nivolumab plus Cannabis [odds ratio, 3.13; 95% confidence interval, 1.24–8.1; P = .016]). There was no difference in progression-free survival or overall survival. A subsequent prospective observational study from the same investigators followed 102 patients with metastatic cancers initiating immunotherapy.[Level of evidence: 2Dii] Sixty-eight patients received immunotherapy alone while 34 patients used Cannabis during immunotherapy. Over half of the patients in each group had stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. Cannabis users were less likely to receive immunotherapy as a first-line intervention (24%) compared with nonusers (46%) (P = .03). Cannabis users showed a significantly lower percentage of clinical benefit (39% of Cannabis users with complete or partial responses or stable disease compared with 59% of nonusers [P = .035]). In this analysis, the median time to tumor progression was 3.4 months in Cannabis users compared with 13.1 months in nonusers and the overall survival was 6.4 months in Cannabis users compared with 28.5 months in nonusers. The investigators also noted that Cannabis users reported a lower rate of overall treatment-related adverse experiences compared with nonusers, with fewer immune-related adverse events (P = .057). The investigators postulated that this finding may be related to the possible immunosuppressive effects of Cannabis and concluded that Cannabis consumption should be carefully considered in patients with advanced malignancies who are treated with immunotherapy.