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CBD is a Promising Cancer Drug

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Welcome to Cannabis Conclusions, a unique educational series from Higher Learning LV that is targeted at hemp and cannabis industry professionals. This series provides readers with the conclusion section from important modern peer-reviewed research studies.

An October 2020 study entitled "A Cannabidiol (CBD) as a Promising Anti-Cancer Drug" that was published in the journal Cancers explored the potential efficacy gained from CBD for cancer patients.


The study reported that cannabinoids such as CBD and delta-9 (Δ9) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) "have been the subject of intensive research and heavy scrutiny." It noted that cannabinoids "encompass a wide array of organic molecules, including those that are physiologically produced in humans, synthesized in laboratories, and extracted primarily from the Cannabis sativa plant."


The major focus of the study was "the mechanism of action of CBD and its potential applications in cancer therapy."

The research reported that cannabinoids "share similarities in their chemical structures, as well as in their protein binding profiles." However, the study's authors noted that "pronounced differences exist in their mechanisms of action and clinical applications, which will be briefly compared and contrasted in this review. The major focus of the study was "the mechanism of action of CBD and its potential applications in cancer therapy."


Study Conclusions

"As evidenced by the large volume of literature reviewed above, CBD has demonstrated robust anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on a wide variety of cancer types both in cultured cancer cell lines and in mouse tumor models. In comparison, CBD generally has milder effects on normal cells from the same tissue/organ. The anti-tumor mechanisms vary based on tumor types, ranging from cell cycle arrest to autophagy, to cell death, or in combination.

CBD molecular structure


"In addition, CBD can also inhibit tumor migration, invasion, and neo-vascularization, suggesting that CBD not only acts on tumor cells, but can also affect the tumor microenvironment (for example, by modulating infiltrating mesenchymal cells and immune cells). The dependency of CBD on the endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, or the TRPV family of calcium channels, also varies, suggesting that CBD may have multiple cellular targets and/or different cellular targets in different tumors.


"CBD treatment disrupts cellular homeostasis in both tumor cells as well as infiltrating cells, leading to cancer cell death and inhibition of tumor migration, invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis."

"Mechanistically, CBD seems to disrupt the cellular redox homeostasis and induce a drastic increase of ROS and ER stress, which could then exert the cell cycle arrest, autophagy, and cell death effects.


"For future studies, it is crucial to elucidate the interplays among different signaling transduction pathways, such as ROS, ER stress, and inflammation in order to better understand how CBD treatment disrupts cellular homeostasis in both tumor cells as well as infiltrating cells, leading to cancer cell death and inhibition of tumor migration, invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis. The final step of developing CBD as an oncology drug is through extensive and well-designed clinical trials, which are urgently needed."


View the original study.


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