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Cancer and CBD: Fighting in Full Spectrum

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many of us have friends and family that have been touched in some way by the scary “C”. We do our part to raise awareness and support cancer research by wearing our pink ribbons and participating in events to raise money to someday find a cure. However, if you or a loved one are fighting for life, then you need better treatment options yesterday.

It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer, and it is not always obvious on how to treat the various types due to the limited bio-markers available. We know, based on the studies to date, that combining conventional chemotherapy with cannabis may be beneficial, as it helps with pain and nausea from chemotherapy. What we want to discuss is the promising data showing the antitumoral effects of whole plant extract with regard to CB2 receptors.

While much of the industry research is focused on cannabidiol (CBD) isolate, whole plant (or full-spectrum) extracts benefit from what is known as the "entourage effect". These extracts maintain, intact, all of the naturally occurring phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in the plant. The interaction of all these elements produces an effect that is greater than the sum of all of its parts.

A 2018 article by Spanish researchers found that phytocannabinoids, the active ingredients in cannabis sativa plants, trigger antitumoral responses in different models of cancer. They determined that full-spectrum cannabis “did not in any case diminish the antitumor efficacy of the standard treatments,” in addition to providing some relief from the adverse side effects of the chemotherapy. According to their article, full-spectrum cannabis combined with chemotherapy may be more effective, and require less toxic doses.

There are 3 types of breast cancer addressed in the study: hormone-sensitive breast cancer (progesterone receptors; estrogen receptors), HER2-positive breast cancer (oncogene), and triple-negative breast cancer. In hormone-sensitive breast cancer, the article showed that whole plant extract was fount to be 15-25% more potent in treating the cancer in live animal studies than THC alone. When combined with tamoxifen in a cell plate, the whole plant increased the result by 20-25%. These results have not yet been replicated in live animal studies. In order to have clinical application, they need the next step of animal trials.

On the other hand, mice trials have been conducted for HER2-positive breast cancer using lapatinib, a standard chemotherapy drug, and whole plant hemp extract. These trials showed that the extract amplified the anticancer effects of the chemotherapy treatment. This may be because HER2 and CB2 receptors are often found in the same exact place on the cells. Finally, a triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis often has the worst prognosis of the three and generally does not respond well to chemotherapy. The Spanish study showed promise in improving the treatment options for some of these aggressive cancers.

Based on data from other research and the results of the Spanish study, whole plant cannabis oil extracts may be beneficial in some multitarget cancer therapies. At this time, our US medical system and its drug development process are not supportive to approvals of botanical preparations for a multitarget treatment option. This is because of the complexity in studying a single-molecule pharmaceutical that is focused on a single primary outcome.

The real issue then becomes - how do we prevent disease before we get it? Our approach, working with the medical community for the past 24 years, is to find protocols that prevent disease states from occurring in the first place. With the safety profile of full-spectrum hemp extract, we recommend using Formula30A in your wellness protocol in supporting the human endocannabinoid system.

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