“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’,” the report stated.
Cannabinoids are similar to endocannabinoids, which are manufactured by the human body to help in various processes, such as nerve function, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation and immune function, among others.
In this meeting, she revealed that she had been taking CBD oil “as an alternative self-treatment for her lung cancer” since August 2018, which she had sourced from outside of the U.K. She was taking 0.5 ml of the CBD oil, two-three times per day.
The endocannabinoid system in humans, which was only identified in the 1990s, is still a mystery in many ways. Although we know it helps to regulate physiological and cognitive processes and manufactured endocannabinoids that “act as neuromodulators,” just how this system can be tapped into with medication and drugs is a growing research avenue.
But one case report does not prove the treatment works — yet.
She had noticed a reduced appetite since taking the CBD oil, but apart from that, she had no other changes to her prescribed medications, diet or lifestyle — she was even still smoking one pack of cigarettes a week still, despite being advised to quit.
In 2019, the shrinking of the tumour piqued doctors’ interests, and the patient was brought in to discuss her results.
Cannabis and cannabinoids in general do have proven therapeutic uses, such as assisting with chronic pain, anxiety and sleep disorders, but research into whether cannabinoids could be used as a direct cancer treatment has not yet come up with a clear answer.
When she was first diagnosed, even though she was a candidate for treatments aimed at curing her cancer, she declined surgery, radiotherapy and other treatments she was offered.
The patient was contacted to discuss her results. She revealed that she was using CBD oil and that she had started taking it in August 2018. No changes had been made in her prescription medications, diet, and lifestyle, and she continued to smoke a pack of cigarettes every week.
Another expert, Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of complementary medicine, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom, pointed out that in animal models, cannabinoids have reduced the size of prostate cancer tumors. “Previous case reports have yielded encouraging findings also in human cancers,” he noted. He too said that further study is needed.
A case report describes the dramatic shrinkage of a tumor to a quarter of its original size in a patient with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had declined conventional treatment, continued smoking, and who later revealed that she was ingesting cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
“The product used by this patient reportedly contained high levels of THC (the intoxicating component of cannabis) and was sourced from outside the UK,” commented Tom Freeman, PhD, senior lecturer and director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom. “This type of product is very different to most CBD oils, which predominantly contain CBD. Unlike prescribed medicines, CBD wellness products lack assurance of quality, safety, or efficacy and should not be used for medicinal purposes.”
Patient Declined Recommended Treatment
Over the course of 2.5 years, the tumor continued to regress. By February 2021, it had shrunk to 10 mm, which represents an overall reduction of 76% in maximum axial diameter. The average rate of reduction was 2.4% per month throughout the monitoring period.
“I was not very interested in traditional cancer treatments,” the patient said, “as I was worried about the risks of surgery, and I saw my late husband suffer through the side effects of radiotherapy. My relative suggested that I should try ‘cannabidiol (CBD) oil’ to treat my cancer, and I have been taking it regularly ever since. I am ‘over the moon’ with my cancer shrinking, which I believe was caused by the ‘CBD oil’. I am tolerating it very well and I intend to take this treatment indefinitely.”
“We are aware of the limitations of this case report,” write the authors, led by Kah Ling Liew, MD, of Watford General Hospital, Watford, United Kingdom.
The patient then disclosed that she had been ingesting CBD oil, which had been suggested to her by a family member. It was taken orally about two to three times a day.
Details of the case were published on October 14 in BMJ Case Reports.