CBD Oil: Potential for Lung Cancer Regression

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  • It may be interesting to further explore the use of CBD oil as a potential treatment for lung cancer, suggest doctors in BMJ Case Reports after dealing with a daily user whose lung tumor has shrunk without the using conventional treatment.


    The body’s own endocannabinoids are involved in a variety of processes including nerve function, emotions, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation, sleep, and immune function. Chemically similar to these endocannabinoids, cannabinoids can interact with signaling pathways in cells, including cancer cells. They have been studied for use as a primary treatment for cancer, but the results have been inconsistent.

    An 80-year-old patient with lung cancer

    Lung cancer remains the second most common cancer in the UK. Despite therapeutic advances, survival rates remain low, around 15% five years after diagnosis. And the average survival without treatment is about 7 months. The authors of the report describe the case of a woman in her 80s, diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. She also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoarthritis and high blood pressure, for which she was taking various medications.

    She smoked and consumed about one pack or more of cigarettes each week (68 packs / year). Her tumor measured 41 mm at the time of diagnosis, with no signs of local or subsequent spread, so it was suitable for conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But the woman refused treatment and was therefore placed on “watch and wait” surveillance, which included regular CT scans every 3 to 6 months.

    Tumor reduction from 41 to 10 mm

    These showed that the tumor was gradually shrinking from 41mm in June 2018 to 10mm in February 2021, which equates to an overall 76% reduction in maximum diameter, with an average of 2.4% per months, according to the report’s authors.

    Contacted in 2019 to discuss her progress, the woman revealed she has been taking CBD oil as an alternative self-treatment for her lung cancer since August 2018, shortly after her initial diagnosis. She had done it on the advice of a loved one after watching her husband struggle with the side effects of radiation therapy. She said she regularly took 0.5 ml of the oil, usually three times a day, but sometimes twice.

    The supplier had indicated that the main active ingredients were 19.5% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), about 20% cannabidiol and about 24% tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). The supplier also advised to avoid hot foods or drinks when taking the oil, as she could experience the narcotic effects of cannabis. The woman said she had reduced her appetite since taking the oil, but had no other obvious “side effects”.

    Only one case study warns the authors

    There were no other changes in her prescribed medications, diet or lifestyle. And she continued to smoke throughout. This is just one case report, with only one other similar case reported, the authors caution. And it’s not clear which of the ingredients in CBD oil could have been helpful.

    “We are unable to confirm all of the ingredients in CBD oil that the patient was taking or provide information on the ingredient (s) that may contribute to the observed tumor regression,” they point out. And they point out: “Although there appears to be a relationship between the consumption of CBD oil and the observed tumor regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumor regression is due to the patient being take CBD oil. ”

    Cannabis has a long “medicinal” history in modern medicine, having been first introduced in 1842 for its analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant effects. And it is widely believed that cannabinoids can help people with chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders; cannabinoids are also used in palliative care, add the authors.

    “More research is needed to identify the actual mechanism of action, routes of administration, safe dosages, its effects on different types of cancer, and any potential unwanted side effects when using cannabinoids,” they conclude.

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