It only takes a simple google search or a news article to find many pieces of information relating to the use of CBD oil or Medical Cannabis for cancer treatment. What you will find are articles or blogs written that say “studies show” or “studies find” and “Scientists say” which we read in mass produced biased marketing content or objective research articles. I am pointing this out because it is hard to get a transparent perspective from a cancer patient, whether it’s because they don't have a platform to share their information or they unfortunately are no longer here to tell the tale.
As I write this article, I am very much alive and able to give you my perspective on the effectiveness of using cannabis through my cancer treatment and I want to share my experience with you.
First I want to touch on a little education so this blog makes a little more sense if you are new to CBD or Medical Cannabis.
Is CBD oil and Medical Cannabis the same thing?
Yes and No! CBD oil or (cannabidiol) are a single or group of compounds found in the hemp plant known as Cannabinoids, these are non psychoactive compounds that hold the therapeutic value of the hemp plant and will not get you high. CBD is renowned for its possible benefits for pain, inflammation, anxiety, and epilepsy to name a few.
The term Medical Cannabis is referring to the use of the cannabis plant that also has cannabinoids, but most notably THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This compound is psychoactive and will alter your state of mind, for lack of a better term “get you high”. THC is prescribed for many chronic conditions including pain, insomnia, and chemotherapy induced nausea.
As a group, the hemp plant or medical cannabis are one and the same; they are both strains in the Cannabis genus and can all be referred to cannabis as a medical product or otherwise.
What did I use during my treatment?
Please keep in mind that I am not a medical or legal professional and anything I say is just an explanation of my usage and perspective of cannabis products and can not be taken as advice.
I used CBD oil for my daily general well being. I felt that CBD is great for stress and anxiety, and it generally helped my daily thought process. It reduced the amount of time that I focused on my aches and pains associated with general inflammation that chemotherapy offers and also offered an overall reduction of my stress and a general calming of my nervous system. It wasn’t just physical stress but also mental stress about the fact that I had cancer and I was getting cancer treatment. The situation is surreal to get your head around, and often your mind and body need a break for a minute or an hour. This is where I found CBD the most effective for me.
If you are unfortunate enough to have experienced chemo or have a close friend or family member who has, you will know a major issue or risk to the patient is weight loss and anemia. I was 81kg when I started my chemotherapy in February 2019. By the end of march I was approaching 61kg after my first 2 rounds. Medical Cannabis with THC played a vital role in helping me maintain my appetite enough to get some type of food in my body. I would mostly use THC in the evenings to help me eat a decent meal before I would try and sleep, as most of my day was spent trying to stomach water and resting as much as I could.
What impressed me most through the treatment process was my body's ability to heal, after the onslaught of chemicals it had to take on and bounce back seven days later was incredible. The most important aspect of the healing process though is good sleep. The mixture of feeling ill and side effects from the satchel full prescription drugs I had to take that affected my hormones/thyroid massively, and sleeping well was a struggle and at times was bordering on insomnia. Using THC in the evenings was key to me getting a decent meal and a good night sleep, which can be hard to achieve during the treatment. I believe these small things can ultimately contribute to better outcomes during cancer treatments.
Would I recommend CBD oil for cancer treatment?
As the blog headlines, using CBD oil for cancer treatment. Would I recommend only CBD for cancer treatment? The answer is no! If I only had access to one or the other, what would I use? I would use the oil high in THC as I found it more beneficial to the more critical aspects of my cancer treatment and recovery as science will probably confirm. If I had access to both I would definitely recommend CBD to help calm my nervous system and generally remove my daily physical and emotional stress through the treatment without having to be high all day… But let's be honest as a consumer of cannabis cancer is not a bad excuse to sit around all day and get high, what so you have to lose right?
Can anyone use CBD and did I get side effects?
Like most things on this planet CBD oil is not for everyone, some people I have met say that it makes them feel sick or gives them a headache, and in some cases increases their anxiety. There are also many different strengths and types of CBD like full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolates. The best piece of advice I can offer is to try a few types and see if you get any results from using it.
Personally I have not experienced any side effects from using CBD, but that does not mean that there aren't any. CBD oil can suppress your appetite as well as add to a fatigued feeling and drowsiness. When undergoing cancer treatment oftentimes you may feel you don't want to add to that fatigued feeling or be drowsier than you already feel. This is something you should evaluate yourself to see if CBD is working for you.
Does CBD oil have any drug interactions?
One of the biggest red flags for CBD oil use during chemotherapy is that it can affect your liver enzymes. These enzymes can either slow down or speed up the metabolism of certain drugs through your liver. In the case of chemotherapy if some drugs are sped up in their metabolism this may reduce their effectiveness, for others lingering around in your liver longer than they need to may be dangerous and increase the likelihood of liver toxicity. Keeping in mind that most cancer patients are generally on 2-3 other prescription medications to prevent other infections, these all add stress to your liver.
Want a real world example? When I began to use CBD oil during my treatment there would be a direct correlation between my liver function declining a week after chemotherapy and increasing my fatigue levels massively, I tested in blindly on myself, and went on and off the CBD depending on the cycle and would wait for oncologist to tell me what blood work was worrying, which would always come back to my liver enzymes. The solution I created for this was asking my oncologist what the maximum half-life of my chemo drugs were in my system for. In my case 2-3 Days, but I doubled the timeframe to be safe, and as a general rule of thumb I would not take any CBD oil for 7 days after treatment. In my case I never had any liver enzyme issues for the remainder of my treatment other than a couple of stints I spent in ICU, but that's a story for another day.
Using CBD oil post cancer treatment?
I am now using more CBD oil than I was during cancer treatment, and I have reduced the amount of THC that I consume as I return to my normal life in Remission and back to running a business. Recovery in all aspects whether it be from cancer treatment or athletic output is where CBD comes into its own I feel. The anti-inflammatory properties assist majorly with my bodies recovery as well as it being a great neuroprotectant and helping reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with being a cancer survivor. Something only my cancer buddies will understand! CBD can also assist in returning the body to homeostasis (restoring balance to all systems in the body) which is massively impacted or almost eradicated through the chemotherapy process and I personally feel like CBD has massively assisted my healing process. As some consumers may know using CBD regularly, especially a prescription or even high quality black market product can be quite costly. After my treatment was complete I also supplemented between doses with Terpenes, as they have a very similar therapeutic effect and really help to reduce the overall cost by not using so much CBD, and sometimes I would go for days without using CBD at all using this method.
Would I recommend CBD during cancer treatment?
Although I think that Medical Cannabis with THC has more value to a cancer patient, I feel that CBD oil also has its place when used correctly and responsibly for general inflammation and mental stressors. The major point I feel is of most importance is remembering that you live in your body and you need to listen to what it has to say. What it likes and doesn't like regardless of what others recommend. You also have every right to ask as many questions about your blood work and how your body is functioning including things like the half-life of your treatment drugs, so that you can have a clear concise set of information to make informed decisions on and whether using CBD oil is right for you.
There are many finer details and tips and tricks that I used throughout my treatment, and if you haven’t yet please subscribe to our mailing list as we have many more consumer facing information on using cannabis to assist with cancer treatment in future articles. Please keep in mind I am a hypervigilant individual that really takes a drivers seat in my health and the fucntion of my body. In reality many people take lots of different drugs and drink alcohol through cancer treatment and make it through the otherside. I personally wanted to make every effort I could to give my body the best chance of healing and making a full recovery.