By Dr. Igor Bussel
In just 2018, there were 1,735,350 new cancer diagnoses in the United States. Each year, more than 600,000 people die from this disease. During their lifetime, around 38 percent of adults will develop some form of cancer.
Because so many people develop cancer at some point in their lifetime, cancer research is an extremely well-funded branch of science. Scientists are constantly working toward new treatment options and ways to manage symptoms. Unfortunately, the cost of treating and managing cancer is extremely expensive.
Seniors have a high chance of developing cancer as they age. In addition to using some of the latest treatments, it is also possible to use cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a complementary option to traditional medications. Among its other benefits, CBD is extremely useful for reducing pain and anxiety. Because of this, it is a good alternative to using pain pills. Other than its ability to relieve pain, scientists are also looking at ways compounds in cannabis can treat cancer.
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Living With Cancer
More than 65 percent of new cancer cases occur in someone who is age 65 or older. The most common cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and rectum cancer. Skin melanomas and bladder cancer are also surprisingly common. Right now, there are 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. By 2026, the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million.
Unfortunately, an estimated 70 percent of cancer-related deaths happen in patients who are age 65 and older. Once someone has a diagnosis, it is normal to feel anxious, stressed out, angry and depressed. In addition to alleviating pain and physical symptoms, CBD can also help patients with mental symptoms like anxiety and stress.
A Guide to the Endocannabinoid System
CBD is actually just one of 113 different cannabinoids that are found within the cannabis plant. Other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is one of the most abundant compounds in the entire plant. Unlike other compounds, CBD will not get you high or cause a sense of euphoria. Since many people want CBD for medical reasons, there are strains of cannabis that are exclusively bred to have high levels of CBD.
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system consisting of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters (signaling molecules) and receptors that are found in humans and other vertebrates. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoid molecules that the human body creates and uses for signaling and regulation. Whenever someone uses cannabis, they are activating their endocannabinoid system via exogenous cannabinoids.
Originally, researchers believed that signals were only sent in one direction. In 2001, they discovered that the endocannabinoid system actually uses retrograde signaling. Rather than making neurotransmitters in a presynaptic neuron and then transmitting them to the postsynaptic neurons, these endocannabinoids were actually signaling to the postsynaptic neurons to make chemicals.
This process allows the endocannabinoid system to create a feedback loop for communication. Currently, cannabis researchers believe that this feedback loop helps the body to heal itself. The body produces endocannabinoids naturally, but scientists are able to introduce cannabinoids from marijuana that stimulate the same effect and potentially have a therapeutic effect.
CBD and other cannabinoids have been discovered to do a variety of different things in the human body. These cannabinoids affect appetite, immunity, mood, energy levels, pain and learning. In addition, the signaling pathways within this system have a direct impact on cellular death, survival and growth.
This impact on cellular growth and survival may play a role in eliminating cancer cells. In some animal studies, cannabinoids have been shown to have anti-tumor properties.
Full Spectrum versus Broad Spectrum versus Isolate
CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD are the most common options you can find in a store or online. The option that works for you depends on what you are looking for. If you are worried about being drug tested, you will probably want to use CBD isolate. A whole plant extract is a better option if you are unconcerned about drug tests and want to take advantage of the entourage effect.
Full-spectrum CBD is designed to have a full profile of terpenes and cannabinoids. This means that there will be some THC left in the extract, but there will not be enough of it present in order to get you high.
Many people use the terms whole-plant extract and full-spectrum CBD interchangeably, but this is not entirely accurate. These products are similar, but they are not the same thing. Whole-plant CBD is less refined, so it still contains waxes, fats and fibrous materials.
Broad-spectrum CBD is designed to be more refined than full-spectrum CBD. It basically starts out as a full-spectrum oil before it goes through another layer of processing. The entire goal of this processing step is to remove any THC compounds. At the end of the process, the oil still contains a range of terpenes and cannabinoids. The main difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD is that full-spectrum CBD still has a minor amount of THC present.
If you do not want any THC in your final product, CBD isolate is the best option. This concentrate goes through a winterization process that removes all of the hemp’s cannabinoids, waxes and terpenes. The only thing that is left at the end of the process is CBD, so the final product is 99 percent pure. If you are concerned about a drug test, CBD isolate is the best option to use.
Which CBD Product Should You Choose?
If you are concerned about a drug test, CBD isolate is the best option for you. Otherwise, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD are excellent options. Many people choose full-spectrum CBD because they want to take advantage of the entourage effect.
The entourage effect is the idea that different cannabinoids play off of each other to achieve different effects. Scientists already know that some of these cannabinoids can heighten each other’s effects and reduce side effects when they are taken together. This synergistic quality is known as the entourage effect, and this effect could potentially heighten the benefits you get from your CBD.
CBD and Cancer Treatment
Research studies show that CBD possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Many patients experience pain because of chemotherapy drugs, and CBD can help to reduce this pain. Recently, researchers have looked at how CBD could affect chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.
In some cases, patients stop chemotherapy treatment because of this form of nerve damage and resulting neuropathic pain, so preventing or minimizing nerve damage is important. During the study, researchers demonstrated that CBD was protective against neurotoxicity and chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.
When people undergo cancer treatment, it often causes emotional and psychological trauma. In research studies, CBD has been shown to reduce psychological trauma and distress. During intense traumas, people create a memory of the traumatic incident. In most cases, this memory is re-consolidated over time so that it does not bother the individual as much. Unfortunately, this does not happen in every case.
If someone continues to suffer from upsetting memories, CBD can help. By taking CBD right before or after a difficult experience, the patient can prevent their brain from storing the memory as a traumatic experience. Because of this, CBD is extremely useful for cancer patients who are nervous about surgeries or chemotherapy.
CBD can also help patients in another way. Unfortunately, many cancer medications lead to nausea. Patients need food in order to maintain their weight and get enough nutrients. If they cannot eat, it can impact their health. CBD can help boost the patient’s appetite and reduce their nausea. As a result, patients can eat more and maintain their health.
CBD is also known to have anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic properties. Its anti-proliferative qualities mean that it can prevent cancer cells from reproducing. Meanwhile, anti-angiogenic ability means it can starve tumors from the blood supply they need to grow.
Some research studies also indicate that CBD has anti-metastatic qualities. Metastasis is a process where malignant cells break away from the main tumor and travel using the bloodstream or lymphatic system. This means cancer cells can travel to new locations and create new tumors. An anti-metastatic drug can prevent cells from spreading throughout the body so that new tumors cannot develop in other locations.
CBD is also known to be apoptotic. If a healthy cell undergoes apoptosis, it means that it experiences programmed cell death. Cancer cells are less likely to go through this process, which is why many cancer treatments focus on encouraging apoptosis to happen.
Finally, CBD can help actually increase the effectiveness of traditional cancer medications. It activates the TRPV2 receptor, which can improve the way cancer cells respond to medications. This receptor also encourages glioma cell death and better absorption of cancer drugs.
How Should You Take CBD?
There are a number of administration methods you can use to take CBD.
- Vaporizers and smoking CBD are methods that help you to absorb CBD quickly, but there are potential respiratory risks.
- Capsules and pills are a convenient way to take a standardized dose each day.
- Edibles are a delicious option and an easy way to use CBD oil.
- Oils and tinctures can be applied under your tongue for rapid absorption.
- Salves, oils, creams, and lotions can be applied topically on the skin.
The right administration method depends on what kind of condition you are treating and what you want the CBD to do. Because of the risks of smoking any kind of drug, it is generally not a good idea to use smoking or vaping to absorb CBD. Instead, consider using pills, edibles, oils or lotions instead.
The amount you take depends on your condition and what you are trying to treat. You should always talk to your doctor before you take any type of drug. In addition, you should continue taking your current medications unless your doctor tells you to stop. CBD can potentially interact with different medications, so it is important to discuss your current medications with your doctor and review potential drug interactions before you start using CBD.