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2023 Study: Cannabinoids for Brain Cancer

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Cannabinoids for Brain Cancer Study

A 2023 study entitled "Therapeutic and Supportive Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with Brain Tumors (CBD Oil and Cannabis)" that was published in the journal Current Treatment Options in Oncology had the goal of providing "a broad view of the current landscape of brain tumor treatment, the role of cannabis in the brain tumor context, and how the patients' quality of life and therapeutic efficacy may be improved by the use of cannabis."

A schematic of a human brain.
Does cannabis help brain tumors?

The study explained that more than 150 types of brain tumors exist, but that astrocytoma composes about 60 percent of all primary brain tumor diagnoses. However, among the most fatal types of brain tumors are high-grade or malignant central nervous system (CNS) tumors.


"In 2021, 84,000 people were diagnosed with a primary brain tumor in the United States."

In 2021, 84,000 people were diagnosed with a primary brain tumor in the United States. Globally, 330,000 new cases of brain tumors were reported in 2016. Conventional therapy includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy (typically temozoloide).


The study's authors discussed several ways in which cannabis may help those with cancerous brain tumors, including with the common symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, appetite stimulation, seizure control, and pain management.

A model of a human brain.
84,000 Americans diagnosed in 2021.

Brain Tumor Symptom Treatment

Cannabinoids for Brain Cancer. The study reported that symptom management is a major challenge for those suffering brain tumors and their caregivers. It explained that the issue is complex and doctors are often challenged in determining if a symptom is the result of the brain tumor itself or one of the treatment therapies employed to prevent its growth.


"Symptom severity varies widely, depending on the size and location of the tumor."

"Additionally, symptom severity varies widely, depending on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the past medical history of any given patient," reported the scientists. They explained that frequent symptoms include headaches, vision and hearing impairment, speech difficulty, and challenges with maintaining balance."


Other potential symptoms include fatigue, depression, a decline in mental function or memory, personality changes, seizures, and muscle paralysis.

A woman rolls a cannabis joint.
Marijuana helps nausea from chemotherapy.

Cannabinoids for Brain Cancer Study Conclusions

Cannabinoids for Brain Cancer. The scientists made the following conclusions based on their data and analysis.


"In recent years, the medicinal properties of the Cannabis genus have received increased attention around the world. This attention combined with the lack of therapeutic choices and side effect management from such therapies has greatly increased the interest of cannabis in brain tumor patients due to its safety profile.


"Medicinal cannabis may inhibit chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, stimulate appetite, reduce pain, and decrease inflammation and cancer cell proliferation."

"Current evidence suggests medicinal cannabis may inhibit chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, stimulate appetite, reduce pain, and decrease inflammation and cancer cell proliferation and survival. In this context, cannabinoids have not only shown to possess properties that may help minimize the polypharmacy effect that chemotherapeutic agents entail but to be a potential co-adjuvant to these therapies.

A mature cannabis plant cola.
Cannabinoid therapies may be useful.

"Cannabinoid therapies including marijuana and CBD products may be a useful adjunct to steroids and palliative therapies to improve symptom management.


"The increasing need for evidence-based arguments about potential harms and benefits of cannabis use paralleled a surge in empirical studies investigating the health impact of cannabis use, the majority of which are observational and focused upon negative health effects and addiction.


"More rigorous studies [about] cannabis and cannabinoids in patients with brain tumors...are urgently needed."

"Although there have been some interventional studies to try to understand the impact of cannabinoids in gliomas the use by the public in general has greatly surpassed the scientific knowledge derived from clinical trials. As such, more rigorous studies aimed to understand the overall clinical impact of cannabis and cannabinoids in patients with brain tumors and the interactions of these compounds with standard of care treatments are urgently needed."


View the original study.

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