Research on Medical Cannabis and cancer is underway as scientists continue to show a relationship between marijuana and health. A study has even demonstrated that the plant is capable of producing beneficial results for those who have cancer and who are going through chemotherapy. Many of the studies also mention the plant’s ability to manipulate the endocannabinoid system.
Even Cancer.gov has begun regularly posting in its “treatment” section about the plant. This includes links to studies on marijuana’s benefits for cancer patients. Although THC (a primary cannabinoid) and the plant as a whole continue to receive the most attention, the website mentions Cannabidiol (CBD), the other primary cannabinoid, plenty.
What is CBD? CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana. Unlike THC, it does not produce the “high” associated with smoking marijuana.
Back in 2011, British Journal of Pharmacology published a study demonstrating considerable evidence that “manipulation of the endocannabinoid system regulates nausea and vomiting in humans and other animals.” Specifically, they stated, “the primary non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), also suppresses nausea and vomiting within a limited dose range.” Because of studies like these, many cancer survivors nationally are speaking openly about their experience with Cannabidiol.
One story that’s recently been shared is that of breast cancer survivor Meghan Koziel. Meghan is known by many as “She Sparkles On,” an initiative focused on empowering women, including educating them throughout their battle with cancer.
At the very young age of 26, Meghan suspected that there was a growing lump on her breast. After months of asking for doctor’s to consider its severity, she received tragic news that it was in fact breast cancer. She knew she was going to fight this as hard as she could. Meghan selected the regimen that she and her doctors’ felt would be most successful. This included chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
Unfortunately, this intense treatment plan also has many side effects. Some common side effects from cancer treatment include alopecia, weight loss, joint pain and discomfort, neuropathy, anxiety, sleep issues, nausea, vomiting and vitamin deficiencies. Because of how debilitating these side effects can be, many patients will seek nontraditional options to help combat their reactions.
There are a number of patients who are first introduced to cannabis when they’re looking for alternative strategies to help with their side effects. This was the case for Meghan. “In my mind… if I did research and utilized nontraditional treatments with traditional measures, I would have a better chance at fighting the side effects and ultimately winning my battle against cancer, right,” she shared. Meghan researched all possible treatments, traditional and homeopathic, but it was her sister who was living in California who introduced her to Cannabis.
Meghan immediately shot down the idea of using the plant, as do many people who do not want to get high. She has asthma and lives in a state where it was then illegal. Meghan was also unwilling and uninterested in taking this risk. She was later introduced to master grower Twompson Prater who was creating products without THC. He helped change her mind.
Twompson is the founder of Rx Canna Care, a company that sells Pure USA Grown, co2 extracted, Full spectrum CBD oil and skin care using whole flower and not hemp. At the same time that Meghan was entering into her cancer battle, Twompson was experimenting with extracting CBD (Cannabidiol) from his plants and incorporating it into creams (Canna Cream).
On her website, Meghan shares a particular study that led her to using CBD. This study demonstrated the interaction between CBD and the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, the same receptor that is also involved in processes including pain, appetite, nausea and anxiety, sleep, and addiction.
During her treatment, Meghan used CBD in a tincture of oil orally throughout 12 rounds of intensive chemotherapy. In her blog, she attributes this treatment to never throwing up, having an appetite, and also never had a drop in blood cell counts. In addition, she shares that the biggest benefit was also using CBD during 30 rounds of radiation. “I never burned through full chest radiation,” she shared.
Meghan is not alone. A recent Brightfield Group report found that 26% of respondents used CBD-only products for nausea. This number will grow if more cancer survivors and patients undergoing chemotherapy are given the option and more research comes out showing its effects.