Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a flowering plant recognized for its medicinal and recreational uses. To date, the use of cannabis in cancer management has been relegated to symptoms management, including as an analgesic, anti-emetic, and appetite stimulant.
Background on Cannabinoids
The two most common cannabinoids present in cannabis are Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC has high affinity for both cannabinoid receptors and is known for its potent psychoactive properties; this undesirable side effect has largely limited its use in a clinical setting.
CBD has lower affinity for cannabinoid receptors (limiting its psychoactive properties) and acts independently of them; specifically CBD may interact with:
- Transient receptor potential channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1)
- Orphan G‐protein coupled receptor (GPR55)
- Peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptors (PPARs)
An emerging body of research suggests that CBD may have a therapeutic, anti-tumor effect on certain types of cancers, when used alone or in combination with existing therapies; researchers have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of CBD in a number of different malignancies.
CBD is a Promising Adjunctive Therapy for Certain Cancer Types
- In multiple in vitro and in vivo models of solid tumors and blood cancers, CBD has been shown to reduce tumor size, potential for invasion and metastasis, and development of new tumor-associated blood vessels.
- Accumulating evidence suggests a role for CBD in the management of certain cancers; of the several naturally occurring cannabinoids, including THC, CBD is the most potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth with minimal effects in healthy cells.
- The mechanism by which CBD exerts its anti-tumor effects is not fully understood, although results from preclinical studies suggest the mechanism may be multifactorial.