CSCI Research Brief

Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer

Pellati F, Borgonetti V, Brighenti V, Biagi M, Benvenuti S, Corsi L. Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. BioMed Research International. 2018;2018:1-15. doi:10.1155/2018/1691428

In the past ten years there has been a lot of interest in the medicinal compounds in the Cannabis sativa L. plant, including cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), are recognized for their therapeutic effects on cancer-related pain and inflammation. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recognizes Cannabis sativa L. as an effective medicinal treatment for several symptoms of cancer, including nausea and vomiting, lack of appetite, anxiety, and pain. One advantage to the use of CBD is that, unlike other molecules in the cannabis plant—namely delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana—CBD is completely non-psychoactive.  

CBD is a Multi-Target Molecule

Several studies have reported CBD as a multi-target molecule. A multi-target substance interacts with a wide range of signaling systems. Multi-target drugs have the potential to treat complex conditions that are not responsive to single-target drugs. The downside of multi-target treatment modalities is that the research and development is very complex, therefore they are more difficult than single-target drugs to get approval for widespread use.   

CBD as an Anticancer Treatment 

CBD has been described as an adaptogen and a modulator; it primarily interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

Several preclinical studies have examined the role of CBD as an anticancer treatment modality. CBD, along with CBD-like molecules found in hemp extract, are potential subjects for future clinical research trials. Several studies have discovered that CBD has antioxidant properties, suggesting a possible role in the prevention of both neurodegenerative disease and cardiovascular disease.

Several cancer types have been shown to be inhibited by CBD in animal models. In addition, the combination of CBD and THC, given along with radiation therapy, has been found to lead to an increase in apoptosis (the death of cells). In different cancer models, CBD exhibits the ability to inhibit cell proliferation and to increase apoptosis.

According to the authors of this study, CBD is considered the most promising component of Cannabis sativa L. in the treatment of inflammation, linked to degenerative disorders, particularly to cancer.  CBD is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Many research studies point to its capability to interfere with cell proliferation apoptosis and cancer growth.  Considering that inflammation and cancer biology share the same common pathways in some biological process stages, CBD is thought to have the potential for a vital treatment modality in controlling the spread and growth of cancer.

The authors of this study conclude, “If we consider that the treatment of most degenerative diseases is still far from achieving full success, the research on hemp and CBD extracts is strongly encouraged.”
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