Cannabidiol (CBD) — a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant — is gaining traction in medical circles and the public eye as increasing amounts of scientific literature confirm its medicinal qualities. These include CBD’s ability to stave off inflammation, curb anxiety, depression, PTSD, psychosis, and seizures.
More astonishingly, and perhaps more urgently, CBD is proving to be a powerful anticancer agent (as recently acknowledged by the U.S. government’s National Cancer Institute). A paper published by the American Association for Cancer Research found that CBD inflicts programmed cell death (PCD) in breast cancer cells.
A team of researchers from Italy and Canada previously determined that cannabidiol (CBD) effectively limits human glioma cell growth. Nonetheless, their findings left more to be explained. “Studies exploring the putative anti-invasive properties of CBD in glioma cells are still limited and the molecular mechanisms underlying its effect are poorly understood,” they wrote.
In turn, the same research team conducted a cell-culture study to characterize how cannabidiol (CBD) is able to inhibit the growth of two different glioma cell lines (U87-MG & T98G). Additionally, they investigated the compound’s influence on a number of proteins tied to the spreading of tumors.
“Cannabidiol (CBD) affects multiple tumoral features and molecular pathways.”– Daniela Parolaro
The investigators used cannabidiol (CBD), which was provided by GW Pharmaceuticals, to treat glioma cells in vitro. According to their results, CBD was able to significantly decrease the invasiveness of each cell model. They also found that cannabidiol (CBD) may induce cancerous cell death, depending on its dosage concentration.
Furthermore, the researchers determined that cannabidiol (CBD) caused a decreased expression of various proteins involved in the spread of glioma. Yet again, this result was dependent on the dosage administered. CBD seemed to down-regulate pro-survival signaling pathways in each of the glioma cell models as well.
People take cannabidiol by mouth for anxiety, bipolar disorder, a muscle disorder called dystonia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.
People inhale cannabidiol to help quit smoking.
How does it work?
Cannabidiol has antipsychotic effects. The exact cause for these effects is not clear. But cannabidiol seems to prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that affects pain, mood, and mental function. Preventing the breakdown of this chemical and increasing its levels in the blood seems to reduce psychotic symptoms associated with conditions such as schizophrenia. Cannabidiol might also block some of the psychoactive effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Also, cannabidiol seems to reduce pain and anxiety.
Some reported side effects of cannabidiol include dry mouth, low blood pressure, light headedness, and drowsiness.
Cannabidiol is a safe, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive cannabis compound with significant therapeutic attributes, but CBD-drug interactions may be problematic in some cases.
CBD and other plant cannabinoids can potentially interact with many pharmaceuticals by inhibiting the activity of cytochrome P450, a family of liver enzymes. This key enzyme group metabolizes most of the drugs we consume, including more than 60 percent of marketed meds.
At sufficient dosages, CBD will temporarily deactivate cytochrome P450 enzymes, thereby altering how we metabolize a wide range of compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the high that cannabis is famous for.
In cancer treatment, the precise dosing of chemotherapy is extremely important; doctors often struggle to find the maximum dose that will not be catastrophically toxic. Many chemotherapy agents are oxidized by CYPs before their inactivation or excretion. This means that for patients using CBD, the same dose of chemotherapy may produce higher blood concentrations. If CBD inhibits the cytochrome-mediated metabolism of the chemotherapy and dosage adjustments aren’t made, the chemotherapy agent could accumulate within the body to highly toxic levels.
By and large, however, there have been few reported adverse cannabinoid-drug interactions among the many cancer patients who use cannabis to cope with the wrenching side effects of chemotherapy. It is possible that whole plant cannabis, with its rich compensatory synergies, interacts differently than the isolated CBD that is administered in most research settings. As well, the cytoprotective effects of the cannabinoids may mitigate some of the chemotherapeutic toxicity.