As new scientific reports continue to be published on the potential medical applications of cannabidiol (CBD), there is growing evidence to support the role that CBD oil could play in breast cancer treatment.
Conventional methods of treating breast cancer do not use cannabis or cannabis-derived products like CBD oil. Instead, the standard cancer treatment options are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery with the hopes of reducing or removing breast cancer cells.
These options are not only invasive but also come with their own difficult-to-manage side effects. Women experiencing traditional cancer treatment may suffer from severe nausea and neuropathic pain, and are also more at risk of developing depression.
CBD oil can reduce the side effects associated with treatment and may even be able to kill breast cancer cells.
Here’s what you need to know about CBD oil and breast cancer.
While there is still not enough scientific evidence to suggest that CBD oil can be used in place of cancer treatments, there are some very encouraging examples of its potential benefits in breast cancer therapies.
Multiple studies have produced evidence that CBD oil “preferentially kills breast cancer cells” by encouraging the apoptosis (death) and autophagy (disassembly and recycling) of diseased cells without harming healthy cells. This is significant because chemotherapy and radiation kill both cancer cells and healthy cells via a broad attack on the body, whereas CBD oil could provide a more targeted alternative.
A further line of research into the role of cannabinoids on cancer cells found that CBD oil has an effect on angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the development of new blood vessels, which enables tumors to grow and spread throughout the body in a cancerous environment. The CBD was found to inhibit angiogenesis and therefore the growth of new tumors, while also promoting apoptosis in tumor cells . The study concluded that CBD’s “dual effect on both tumor and endothelial cells supports the hypothesis that CBD has potential as an effective agent in cancer therapy.”
These research findings are promising and future research should provide a clearer picture. At the moment, some of the most significant uses of CBD oil as it pertains to breast cancer treatment is in its ability to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The side effects of cancer treatments can be wide-ranging but most commonly, people experience nausea, pain, and depression, all ailments CBD oil has been known to help.
CBD oil’s impact on nausea is two-fold, not only acting as an antiemetic but also being found to reduce anticipatory nausea, commonly associated with chemotherapy treatment.
The process by which CBD oil reduces the experience of nausea is not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are impacted by CBD oil, may be linked to the nausea response.
When CBD oil enters the system, it alters the functioning of CB1 receptors, inhibiting the release of the nausea causing neurotransmitter, serotonin. Furthermore, CBD may also reduce nausea through its interaction with serotonin receptor 5-HT2A, although this process is not yet completely understood.
In patients who have experienced bouts of nausea after chemotherapy, a common development is the experience of anticipatory nausea. Triggered by contextual cues, anticipatory nausea is felt before any physical nausea is felt. This phenomenon cannot be treated with antiemetic drugs, as it is being caused by different processes than traditional nausea.
While initial clinical research has only been conducted on lab animals, the findings suggest that CBD oil may also be an effective treatment for anticipatory nausea.
CBD oil is renowned for its ability to reduce pain and inflammation. During treatment for breast cancer, pain can be wide-ranging and come from a variety of sources. While the tumor itself may damage nerve cells, the processes of radiation and chemotherapy can also cause nerve pain.
Glycine receptors, which are located in the central nervous system, play a significant role in how you perceive pain. CBD oil increases the effectiveness of glycine receptors, thereby reducing the experience of neuropathic pain.
CBD oil has been shown to possess great potential for improving mood and motivation. It comes as no surprise that people diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like breast cancer are more likely to suffer from depression.
The neurotransmitter anandamide influences the feelings of happiness, motivation, and joy, which is why it’s commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule.” CBD oil is an anandamide reuptake inhibitor, increasing the amount of anandamide available in the brain, and ultimately elevating mood.
There are a handful of different ways to take CBD oil, some of which will be easier for breast cancer sufferers. But, before getting into that, make sure you have a serious discussion with your doctor about using CBD oil; when your body is already in a fragile state, it’s crucial to take precautions along the way. You might also want to speak with a naturopathic doctor who specializes in using CBD for treating medical conditions.
CBD oil drops and transdermal patches are likely the easiest ways to take CBD oil if you have breast cancer. These delivery methods bypass your digestive system so if you’re experiencing nausea or other stomach-related issues from treatment, you’ll still be able to feel the benefits of cannabidiol.
CBD oil drops and tinctures are absorbed sublingually (under the tongue) meaning the CBD is absorbed into your bloodstream quickly, without having to pass through your digestive system. This could be a useful delivery format for sudden nausea symptoms or cancer-related pain. CBD oil drops also provide the most dosage control, making it easy to adjust the dose up or down as needed.
CBD transdermal patches will not allow for as much control over dosage, but provide the longest-lasting relief. If you’re looking for a ‘set it and forget it’ CBD delivery method, a patch is probably your best option. The cannabidiol is absorbed into your bloodstream through the skin, so it may take a while for the effects to set in at first; however, effects could last for up to two days off of just one patch.
CBD oil vapes and edibles are also an option but may be less practical for breast cancer patients. Vapes and edibles may not be appealing when suffering from nausea. Though CBD capsules could easily be worked into your daily medication regimen as long as the cannabidiol doesn’t upset your stomach.
Unfortunately, figuring out the proper CBD oil dosage for breast cancer can be tricky. Because no two people are the same, there is no universal dose. Before supplementing breast cancer treatment with CBD oil, it is best to talk to your physician and/or oncologist. Your medical team can help you determine whether or not CBD oil is a good option for you and help you narrow down the right dose and concentration.
Generally speaking, it is best to start with the lowest suggestion serving as recommended on the product. If this proves to not be enough, the dosage can be slowly increased over the following weeks until the desired effects are achieved.
As mentioned above, CBD oil has great potential to offer relief for breast cancer patients. By specifically targeting breast cancer cells, CBD oil presents an opportunity to attack the diseased cells without also destroying healthy cells.
But, research has been conducted largely in animals, so further research and human clinical trials will need to be performed before any conclusive statements can be made.
Having said that, CBD oil has been found by the World Health Organization to be “generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile.” And because CBD oil products contain less than 0.3% THC, it will not cause the intoxicating effects that are commonly associated with cannabis use. For this reason, CBD oil is a popular supplement to take in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to reduce their negative effects.
More than just being potentially effective for breast cancer treatments, cannabis and CBD oil may have benefits for other types of cancer as well:
In order to find the best CBD oil for breast cancer, you need to first make sure that you are buying a high-quality product.
Quality products will not be loaded with chemicals or additives and contain only cannabinoids, terpenes, and a natural, healthy carrier oil like hemp seed oil or coconut oil.
To ensure you’re purchasing a quality CBD oil product, look for a brand that third-party lab tests their extractions and posts Certificates of Analysis online. Reading the Certificates of Analysis will help you understand exactly what is in the final product, ensuring that you can correctly identify CBD concentrations and perfect your dose.
As mentioned above, CBD oil drops, tinctures, and capsules are the most convenient ways to take CBD oil but vapes, edibles, and topicals may also be useful. The product or combination of products that works best for you will largely come down to personal preference and accessibility. It may take a little trial and error to determine the best path forward, but the potential relief will be worth the effort.
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