In the debate over medical marijuana, advocates have long pointed to the effectiveness of cannabis in treating pain, epilepsy, and the devastating effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients. Can cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil and other cannabinoid products actually fight cancer, though? Recent research on the benefits of hemp oil seems to say “yes.”
Leukemia: The Silent Killer
To fully understand the benefits of CBD hemp oil on leukemia, it’s important to recognize what the condition is and how it affects people. The dangerous aspect of leukemia is that it causes a person’s body to produce excess white blood cells1. These leukemic cells are abnormal and don’t have the infection-fighting properties of regular white blood cells.
Bone marrow is responsible for the production of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets for clotting. Increased white blood cell production in the bone marrow crowds out other vital cellular activity, resulting in fewer cells that carry out essential functions such as blood clotting and supplying oxygen to the body.
Unfortunately, leukemia doesn’t always make itself apparent, and this has led to its nickname as “the silent killer.” A person may experience no other symptoms than shortness of breath or bruising at first. Individuals with chronic leukemia may also retain normal cell functioning2 for years before the disease starts causing obvious problems.
Leukemia ultimately reduces the body’s ability to fight off dangerous infections. In fact, the five-year survival rate for adults is only 57 percent3. Fortunately, scientists are now discovering the health benefits of CBD hemp oil and how it could improve this prognosis.
Cannabis Use in Leukemia Treatment
There are a variety of treatments for leukemia, and the chosen course will depend on the type of leukemia a person has. For acute leukemia, which may seem to come out of nowhere and cause immediate problems, chemotherapy is the standard treatment. Chronic leukemia, on the other hand, may be treated with surgery, chemo, stem cell transplant, and other types of therapy.
New research shows that cannabis has substantial benefits for leukemia patients undergoing chemotherapy. Research published in the International Journal of Oncology found that two cannabinoids, CBD and THC, proved to have anti-cancer effects4 when taken on their own.
However, when researchers paired these two cannabinoids with conventional chemotherapy drugs, that’s when the real benefits of CBD and THC became apparent. Patients who were administered these compounds after undergoing chemotherapy had their cancerous cells killed off more efficiently. These findings have several implications for those suffering from leukemia.
What Cannabis Research Means for Leukemia
People unfamiliar with leukemia may wonder why cannabis would be needed. After all, doesn’t chemotherapy kill off these cancerous cells on its own? While this is sometimes true, the simple fact is that chemotherapy can cause side effects that can make a person more miserable than the cancer itself.
Common side effects of chemotherapy are severe pain, vomiting, nerve damage, sexual disorders, and damage to vital organs. Sadly, these are only a small portion of the potential side effects. The benefit of CBD hemp oil is that it can reduce the amount of chemotherapy needed to achieve the same effects as higher chemo doses.
Taking CBD hemp oil in conjunction with chemotherapy means lower doses of chemo are required, and less chemotherapy means fewer severe side effects. Although, when looking at these results, it’s important to remember a few things. This combination therapy was proven to be effective when CBD or THC was taken after the administration of chemotherapy.
Additionally, the research showed that simply smoking marijuana wouldn’t achieve the same results. Highly concentrated forms of the substances were required, and that’s why leukemia patients would benefit more from CBD hemp oil and other concentrated doses rather than traditional marijuana use.
Other Benefits of CBD Hemp Oil
This new research linked to leukemia is only the latest in a growing body of scientific literature that shows the health benefits of cannabinoids. In addition to its benefits for leukemia patients, CBD can hinder other types of cancer by preventing the spread and growth of tumors5. This effect has been proven in research going back nearly 20 years.
Beyond its cancer-fighting abilities, cannabinoids have also proven effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Many patients currently fighting serious diseases already smoke marijuana to reduce pain, but research has shown that CBD hemp oil and other cannabinoid products can accomplish the same thing without generating the psychoactive effects commonly associated with marijuana.
CBD oil products have also been successfully used to treat epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even mental health issues such as anxiety and schizophrenia. So, it’s clear the benefits of hemp oil go much further than leukemia treatment.
Is CBD the Next Leukemia Treatment?
While research is certainly promising, the effects of CBD on leukemia are thus far restricted to animal and cellular research. This doesn’t mean, however, that leukemia patients can’t benefit from hemp oil. There’s a strong possibility that the substance would kill off cancerous cells, and it’s already been proven that cannabinoids will reduce side effects of chemotherapy6 such as pain and nausea.
In the end, there’s very little reason for leukemia patients not to take advantage of these CBD health benefits.
1 Christian Nordqvist,
Medical News Today, Leukemia: Causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What is Leukemia?
3 National Cancer Institute,
Cancer Stat Facts: Leukemia.
4 Katherine Scott, et al., International Journal of Oncology,
Anticancer effects of phytocannabinoids used with chemotherapy in leukaemia cells can be improved by altering the sequence of their administration.
5 Guillermo Velasco, et al.,
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, The use of cannabinoids as anticancer agents.
6 National Cancer Institute,
Cannabis and cannabinoids (PDQ) – Health professional version.