CBD is an amazing plant compound, shown to powerfully alleviate many diseases. Not only that, but CBD also offers opportunities for healthy individuals who just want to optimize the little things and live life elevated. Both science and society are saying the same thing: the molecule is amazingly versatile!
But could it do anything for cancer?
It’s an important question, one we’ll aim to answer in this article. And while we can’t make any distinctly medical claims about CBD, this article will go over what we do know about the cannabinoid-cancer link so far. Our hope is that you and your loved ones will receive hope after reading it!
Cancer is an invasive, pervasive disease. One of its original english definitions was “a widespread evil”. While that description might seem a little superstitious today, it was made at a time when basic biological processes weren’t all that well understood.
Doctors in the 1800’s didn’t have the tools to comprehend the ways that cancer could form or begin to spread. They just knew that it did become widespread, and fast, upon showing up.
That all changed with Otto Warburg, a brilliant German physiologist who made dozens of contributions to science’s understanding of breathing and energy production. In 1931, Warburg won the nobel prize for discovering that cancerous cells could only thrive in an anaerobic (oxygen-free), glucose-rich environment. And this kind of environment could only happen when mitochondria were malfunctioning.
Since then, the causes of cancer have become better clarified – but the disease’s prevalence has gotten even worse. And article by the New York Times covers this pretty well:
A recent report by two Egyptologists in the journal Nature Reviews: Cancer reviewed the literature, concluding that there is “a striking rarity of malignancies” in ancient human remains.
If cancer used to be “strikingly rare”, what could’ve caused its increase?
Report authors A. Rosalie David of the University of Manchester and Michael R. Zimmerman of Villanova University list a few, including “obesity, dietary habits, sexual and reproductive practices, and other factors often altered by civilization”, like “tobacco use and pollution resulting from industrialization.”
Other physicians, including Professor Rosalie David, take this theory a step further. According to Dr. David, “There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”
CBD = MITOCHONDRIAL MEDICINE
Back to mitochondria for a second. You probably went over the basics of them in school, but did you know that mitochondria power virtually every bodily function by ripping apart food and converting its electrons into purified energy?
The role of mitochondria to our health is so critical that these small organelles are best known as the powerhouse of the cell. All else being equal, the stronger a person’s mitochondria, the faster they’ll be able to produce energy without getting totally run down.
Why is this all significant? Because endocannabinoid receptors are found all over the surfaces of mitochondrial cells. This wasn’t discovered that long ago, and still remains surprising; mitochondria are distinctive from the rest of the body in most others ways. They even have their own type of DNA. And yet the ECS impacts them, too.
And CBD, through its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, also impacts mitochondria. It actually helps control them, modulating the energy production process and helping this process favor fat oxidation – aka fat burning.
It’s this metabolism-shifting effect that makes CBD capable of promoting a cancer-free life. By keeping mitochondria healthy, CBD reduces the byproducts of energy production that predispose healthy cells to mutate and become cancerous in the first place.
Mitochondria & ECS Receptors + CBD & Anandamide (AEA) = Health & Balance!
To put it very simply, this interplay is another example of CBD helping with full body balance. Want to take CBD as a natural preventative measure? Check out our therapeutic dosing guide and consider incorporating CBD into your daily wellness routine.
And that’s just CBD’s potential to reduced the risk of cancer’s development. Thankfully, those who’ve already been diagnosed with cancer may find hope with CBD, too. It’s in this area that things get very, very interesting.
CBD VS. CANCER CELLS
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life changing. Intimidating, too, as not-so-pleasant reminder of one’s mortality. It’s easy to feel powerless against the news of a diagnosis – no wonder the disease’s ominous first definition mentioned the words widespread and evil.
At the mercy of such a force, most people convert over to a regimen of chemo, painkillers, checkups and imagings, and the like. We’re not saying anyone should avoid those things. But for cancer patients already physically and physiologically overwhelmed by these changes, could there be another way?
The research says yes. Its findings point to CBD’s potential in several crucial areas. And though these findings have been stifled by the government, they show pretty clearly that CBD combats cancer’s progression along every step of the way.
Keep in mind that cancer cells are usually immortal, energy-hogging ones. While normal cells follow a predictable life cycle and eventually give themselves up for protein recycling, cancer cells don’t want to die! In their quest for quick growth they adopt the toxic anaerobic metabolism we talked about earlier. Pretty selfish.
CBD doesn’t like this – and it can tell, thanks to the presence of ECS receptors within mitochondria. While the endocannabinoid system on a whole was already conscious, in a sense, of cancer’s cellular proliferation, CBD enables the system to exert the healing properties nature intended it to have.
For example, ceramide (we’ll explain what that is soon!) and the endocannabinoid anandamide are already boosted in colon cancer patients. CBD just helps the body go further in the direction it so desperately wants to: towards recovery and healing.
How? There are a few primary modes of action:
CBD helps cells produce more ceramide. Ceramide is a fatty-acid based substance that eats away at the faulty mitochondrial membrane of cancer cells, basically cutting off energy production at its source. Ceramide also messes with the digestive function of cancer cells, further handicapping their growth.
Thankfully, this special fatty acid has a selectivity of its own that makes it completely harmless to normal cells! Together with ceramide, CBD uses the qualities of cancerous cell membranes against them, while leaving healthy cellular function untouched.
CBD ’hacks’ the lipoxygenase pathway. This topic can get pretty complex, but basically, the lipoxygenases help convert the fats we eat into the signalling molecules our bodies use. For example, they assist in the conversion of DHA from seafood into the neuroprotectins our brains need.
But this lipo-oxidation can also be bad – or at least less than optimal. When a person is stressed they produce more cortisol, and cortisol can shift this fat-conversion processes towards inflammatory molecules and away from protective ones.
CBD helps ensure that the building blocks of these cellular signallers are used correctly – not used to produce more inflammation. And by reducing inflammation, the plant molecule helps those with cancer optimize their metabolism and get the most out of a healthy diet.
CBD boosts the immune system and its response to cancer. Most cannabinoids, including CBD, boost the immune system. While the mechanisms described above work well independently of immune function, CBD’s action isn’t limited to them alone. The molecule also lifts up the entire immune system by sensitizing the body to inputs and outputs.
And immune health and cancer prevention go hand in hand. That’s obvious enough. What you might not know is the body produces as many as 10,000 ‘badly programmed’ cells everyday – and you don’t need to know, as long as your immune system is healthy enough to detect them! Left unchecked, however, these rebellious cells eventually become cancerous and form larger tumors.
CBD controls apoptosis of other cells. Apoptosis just means controlled destruction. And this type of selective destruction is critical when the body is in a state as chaotic as cancer.
Apoptosis is sometimes also called ‘programmed cell death’ because the potential action is encoded in the genetic code. CBD works with a variety of endocannabinoids to activate these genetic switches, turning cancer cell growth off. This is something a comprehensive study from 2010 covered in-depth before its conclusion:
Anti-inflammatory therapeutic potential of cannabinoids is also evident from the studies discussed in this review paper. At the optimal concentrations, cannabinoids do induce apoptosis in immune cells, alleviating inflammatory responses and protecting the host from acute and chronic inflammation.
CBD reduces the side effects of chemotherapy.
Researchers include this quality within the palliative effects category, which also include loss of appetite, hair loss, and other issues that cancer patients often struggle with. Amazingly, CBD helps with virtually all these side effects!
CBD’s palliative effects are obvious enough that the US government acknowledges them, too – just after a somewhat contradictory disclaimer:
Cannabis is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of any cancer-related symptom or side effect of cancer therapy.
Two cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone) are approved by the FDA for the treatment of nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in patients who have not responded to antiemetic therapy.
CBD reduces stress. This ability might seem more generalized than the others we’ve went over. But it’s definitely not any less important.
CBD reduces stress with such purposeful complexity that doing it justice would require writing a novel or two. These anti-stress mechanisms include calcium channel activation, increased nitric oxide production, and on-demand endocannabinoid production.
Just as significantly, CBD also improves life outlook. Cancer can be extremely traumatic, often a composite blend equal parts physical disease and mental test of strength. Within this battle any substance that can improve mood might also improve symptomology – even if only indirectly.
Of course, the greatest improvements in mental outlook are coupled with stress reduction. And while reducing stress may not reduce the risk of developing cancer, it does seem to reduce the progression of it.
This is what the science says so far. Some of it is still theoretical, some of it still only in vitro…but even then, CBD and hemp have medical researchers spanning many different fields impressed.
The only thing more impressive? Anecdotal evidence. Some reports are so impressive they seem almost unbelievable – but they’re true. Others might seem pretty emotionally charged – but if someone has had their lives completely changed by CBD, can you really blame them for being enthusiastic?
Anecdotal evidence surrounding CBD and cancer is pretty promising, too. Together with the latest research it points to high – dose CBD as the best option for those with cancer – maybe even combining high-dose hemp extract oil with a CBD-infused topical. Unlike in most other cases, slowly building up to a high dose isn’t necessary.
These extra dosage demands can be perfectly met with our Legends 1,000 mg CBD oil. And if you want to add in a premium topical salve, we have those, too. At Legends we believe everyone should be empowered to create their legacy – regardless of the health concerns that might be holding them back. CBD’s incredible effects on human health offer the chance to overcome such concerns and live life truly elevated.