CBD Oil (The Legal Kind) and Skin Cancer
The state where I live, Indiana, isn’t known for being particularly progressive. CBD oil was a hot topic in legislation for a long time before our governor signed a bill in March 2018 making it legal to possess CBD oil, as long as it contained 0.3 percent THC or less. For some people, this law was extremely overdue to be passed.
CBD oil for skin cancer
Why the interest in getting a law passed making it legal to possess CBD oil? CBD oil has been claimed as being beneficial in helping with chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety and depression, schizophrenia, and skin cancer. Yes, skin cancer!
CBD oil studies have shown that it can encourage abnormal cell death. It can also slow the growth and spread of cancer. Would it help me? I’ve had skin cancer for over 20 years. I know the apprehension of discovering a new, suspicious area on my skin. I know the frustration of yet another skin check at the dermatologist’s office where I have an area that has to be biopsied. So when it became legal to have non-THC CBD oil, I thought I would give it a try.
Experimenting with CBD oil
The first thing I learned is that there is a difference in CBD oils. My first purchase was from a healthy foods store. The store worker told me what she would recommend for me, and suggested that I should take it once a day. The label on the bottle indicated it was flavorless, but I have to tell you that I really struggled with ingesting that CBD oil. It wasn’t exactly flavorless; it tasted like I was drinking dirt. And it was thick.
After four weeks of once-daily ingestion, I couldn’t really tell a difference in how I felt from before I took it, but I noticed that my skin was looking clearer. However, trying to take the CBD oil was still causing difficulties, and I was ready to give up. It was that disgusting. I decided to instead put it directly on a couple of small areas of actinic keratosis on my face. I applied it at night before bed and covered with a bandage. Four nights later, I noticed that the areas were shrinking! This was encouraging.
Finding better quality CBD
Around that time, a CBD oil store opened near my home. I stopped by one day after work and asked if all CBD oils were as icky as the one I was taking. The salesperson told me what they sold was completely different. It was available in flavors, and I chose peppermint.
When I got home and tried it, I was amazed at the difference. What I purchased in the CBD oil store was completely clear, slightly flavored with peppermint (although no flavoring was necessary for me to be able to take it without gagging), and it didn’t have the consistency of motor oil. (You can see the difference in the photo below.) Lesson learned – buy good quality CBD oil, which makes it much easier to take.
Skin check time!
When it was time for my next dermatologist’s appointment for a skin check, I had been taking CBD oil for a little over two months. I told my dermatologist that I was taking it, and she said that it is an anti-inflammatory so it definitely couldn’t hurt to take it. And for the first time in many appointments, I had nothing that needed biopsied or was causing concern.
Coincidence? Possibly. CBD oil use? Possibly. It’s still early on, and even some of the information I read stated that more studies are needed on the use of CBD oil for skin cancer treatment, but so far it sounds promising!
Daily use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil may be linked to lung cancer regression
It may be worth exploring further the use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil as a potential lung cancer treatment, suggest doctors in BMJ Case Reports after dealing with a daily user whose lung tumour shrank without the aid of conventional treatment.
The body’s own endocannabinoids are involved in various processes, including nerve function, emotion, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation, sleep and immune function.
Chemically similar to these endocannabinoids, cannabinoids can interact with signalling pathways in cells, including cancer cells. They have been studied for use as a primary cancer treatment, but the results have been inconsistent.
Lung cancer remains the second most common cancer in the UK. Despite treatment advances, survival rates remain low at around 15% five years after diagnosis. And average survival without treatment is around 7 months.
The report authors describe the case of a woman in her 80s, diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. She also had mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure, for which she was taking various drugs.
She was a smoker, getting through around a pack plus of cigarettes every week (68 packs/year).
Her tumour was 41 mm in size at diagnosis, with no evidence of local or further spread, so was suitable for conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. But the woman refused treatment, so was placed under ‘watch and wait’ monitoring, which included regular CT scans every 3-6 months.
These showed that the tumour was progressively shrinking, reducing in size from 41 mm in June 2018 to 10 mm by February 2021, equal to an overall 76% reduction in maximum diameter, averaging 2.4% a month, say the report authors.
When contacted in 2019 to discuss her progress, the woman revealed that she had been taking CBD oil as an alternative self-treatment for her lung cancer since August 2018, shortly after her original diagnosis.
She had done so on the advice of a relative, after witnessing her husband struggle with the side effects of radiotherapy. She said she consistently took 0.5 ml of the oil, usually three times a day, but sometimes twice.
The supplier had advised that the main active ingredients were Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 19.5%, cannabidiol at around 20%, and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) at around 24%.
The supplier also advised that hot food or drinks should be avoided when taking the oil as she might otherwise feel stoned. The woman said she had reduced appetite since taking the oil but had no other obvious ‘side effects’. There were no other changes to her prescribed meds, diet, or lifestyle. And she continued to smoke throughout.
This is just one case report, with only one other similar case reported, caution the authors. And it’s not clear which of the CBD oil ingredients might have been helpful.
“We are unable to confirm the full ingredients of the CBD oil that the patient was taking or to provide information on which of the ingredient(s) may be contributing to the observed tumour regression,” they point out.
And they emphasise: “Although there appears to be a relationship between the intake of CBD oil and the observed tumour regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumour regression is due to the patient taking CBD oil.”
Cannabis has a long ‘medicinal’ history in modern medicine, having been first introduced in 1842 for its analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant effects. And it is widely believed that cannabinoids can help people with chronic pain, anxiety and sleep disorders; cannabinoids are also used in palliative care, the authors add.
“More research is needed to identify the actual mechanism of action, administration pathways, safe dosages, its effects on different types of cancer and any potential adverse side effects when using cannabinoids,” they conclude.
Notes for editors
Please note: out of respect for patient confidentiality we don’t have the names or contact details of the cases reported in this journal.
Funding: None declared
Link to Academy of Medical Sciences labelling system
Externally peer reviewed? Yes
Evidence type: Single case report