Is THC or CBD better for cancer patients? A helpful guide | CAC
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Is THC or CBD better for cancer patients? A helpful guide

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THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are both gaining attention for their potential therapeutic effects, including their ability to treat cancer. THC, known for its psychoactive properties, is used to manage symptoms like pain and nausea. CBD is non-psychoactive. It has gained recognition for its anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic properties. 

Understanding the benefits and distinctions of THC and CBD in cancer treatment is crucial for making informed decisions about the most suitable approach for each individual’s needs.

Key Takeaways

  • THC and CBD have been extensively studied for their potential use in managing cancer-related symptoms such as pain, nausea, and loss of appetite.
  • Preclinical studies suggest that both cannabinoids may also have anti-tumour properties and could potentially inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells.
  • While medical cannabis is generally considered safe, it’s essential to consult with a specialist doctor before starting treatment, especially if undergoing conventional cancer therapies.
  • Factors such as the type and stage of cancer, overall health, and individual tolerance must be considered when determining the appropriate cannabinoid therapy.
  • Both THC and CBD are currently prescribed for supportive cancer care in the UK, but more research is needed to fully understand their potential in cancer treatment.
  • Cannabis Access Clinics offers a platform for patients to leave honest reviews about their experiences with medical cannabis. If you have something to share, please consider leaving a review!

THC and CBD for cancer treatment

Understanding THC and CBD

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is notable for its psychoactive, euphoria-inducing effects. These can include a joyful ‘high’ and changes in perception. THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system by binding to cannabinoid receptors, influencing a range of physiological processes. 

In the context of cancer treatment, THC is administered to alleviate symptoms like pain, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

CBD or cannabidiol does not induce psychoactive effects. Its interaction with the endocannabinoid system differs from THC’s, as it affects both cannabinoid receptors and other non-cannabinoid receptors. CBD is recognised for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-relieving), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and neuroprotective properties. 

In the realm of cancer treatment, CBD has demonstrated potential in managing pain, mitigating inflammation, and alleviating anxiety.

Choosing between THC and CBD for cancer treatment

Despite their divergent psychoactive effects, THC and CBD do share some characteristics. Both cannabinoids engage with the endocannabinoid system, and both possess anti-inflammatory properties. They have the capacity to influence pain perception and impact immune responses. Moreover, THC and CBD have shown promise in impeding the proliferation and metastasis of cancer cells through multiple mechanisms, including the induction of apoptosis and the inhibition of angiogenesis.

In simpler terms, both CBD and THC may slow the progression of cancer, but more research is needed before we can make any concrete claims. Keep reading to see what the currently available research is saying.

How do THC and CBD actually work for cancer patients?

THC and CBD engage with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which features a complex network of receptors and naturally occurring endocannabinoids spread across the body. These cannabinoids principally interact with two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are crucial in overseeing a variety of physiological functions, including cell proliferation, inflammation, and immune responses.

THC’s mechanism of action

THC’s main mechanism of action in cancer treatment is through its interaction with CB1 receptors, which are abundant in the central nervous system. By binding to these receptors, THC can modulate pain perception, induce relaxation, and help to reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatments. 

THC has also been shown to possess potential anti-tumour properties, including inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and promoting cancer cell death through apoptosis. It can also impede angiogenesis, thus limiting the blood supply to tumours and hindering their growth.

CBD’s mechanism of action

CBD exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can help alleviate inflammation associated with cancer and its treatments. Its ability to modulate the immune response may also contribute to its potential anti-tumour effects.

Additionally, CBD has anxiolytic properties, which can help alleviate anxiety and improve the overall well-being of cancer patients. By interacting with serotonin receptors, CBD may regulate mood and reduce anxiety levels. This aspect of CBD’s effects can be particularly beneficial for cancer patients who often experience emotional distress and anxiety related to their diagnosis and treatment.

THC and CBD for cancer treatment

Current research on THC and CBD in cancer treatment

Clinical studies on THC and CBD have primarily focused on their role in managing cancer-related symptoms. THC has been extensively studied for its ability to alleviate pain, reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and stimulate appetite in cancer patients. Its efficacy in these areas has been well-documented, leading to the development of THC-based pharmaceuticals for supportive cancer care.

Preclinical studies have demonstrated that both THC and CBD offer possible anti-tumour properties and can inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells in laboratory settings. These cannabinoids have been investigated in several types of cancer, including breast, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. 

Findings suggest that THC and CBD can cause apoptosis in cancer cells, inhibit cell proliferation, and disrupt the formation of new blood vessels that nourish tumours. These mechanisms offer potential avenues for suppressing tumour growth and metastasis.

They have both also shown promise in managing pain, inflammation and anxiety in cancer patients. Clinical trials have investigated its potential as an adjunct therapy to conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. While the results are preliminary, they suggest that CBD may enhance the therapeutic effects of standard treatments and improve overall well-being.

Are there any risks when taking medical cannabis for cancer treatment?

Yes, just like all other medication options, there are some side effects and risks to be aware of before starting treatment with THC or CBD. Some common side effects reported by cancer patients using these cannabinoids include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, and changes in appetite.

Can CBD or THC interact negatively with cancer medication?

Both cannabinoids can inhibit the activity of enzymes responsible for metabolising chemotherapy drugs, potentially leading to higher levels of these drugs in the body and increasing their side effects.

Overall, both cannabinoids have been shown to have a very favourable safety profile, with few serious adverse effects reported. That said, it is essential to consult a specialist doctor before starting any new treatment, especially if you are currently undergoing conventional cancer treatments.

THC and CBD for cancer treatment

What factors need to be considered when looking at medical cannabis for cancer?

When considering THC or CBD for cancer treatment, several factors need to be taken into account. The type and stage of cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health and medical history, play crucial roles in determining the appropriate cannabinoid therapy. Different cancers may respond differently to THC and CBD, and individual variations in tolerance and sensitivity must be considered.

It’s also crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before using any form of cannabis-based medicine. They can provide guidance based on the latest research and evidence, helping patients make informed decisions about incorporating THC or CBD into their treatment plan.

Final thoughts

THC and CBD both show promise in cancer treatment, but further research is needed to understand their mechanisms of action and therapeutic potential fully. THC can provide symptom relief, has demonstrated anti-cancer effects, and is already prescribed for supportive cancer care here in the UK. CBD has also shown potential for managing symptoms and may enhance the effects of traditional cancer treatments.

Thankfully, as medical cannabis is now a fully legal treatment option in the UK, you don’t need to look far for information and support. Although your local GP more than likely cannot offer prescriptions, and the NHS is pretty unwilling to do so, many private clinics and specialist doctors can get you started on your journey.

Whether it’s for symptom management or as a complementary therapy, medical cannabis may be a great option for you or a loved one.

Here at Cannabis Access Clinics, we aim to offer an unbiased platform for patients to leave honest reviews about their experiences with medical cannabis. If you have something to share, please head over to the clinic page and leave a review!