CBD Oil for Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common, most treatable, and yet also one of the deadliest types of cancer. It typically presents as a skin lesion that won’t heal and tends to keep growing and ulcerating indefinitely. When caught at an early stage, this cancer can often be cured fairly easily by removing the affected area. Things can get a bit trickier once it has metastasized – which means it has progressed below the surface of the skin and burrowed into vital organs.
In recent years, there has been increasing attention to the use of cannabis and CBD oil for skin cancer 1 .
Anyone who starts exploring the topic of CBD for cancer will eventually come across CBD oil cancer testimonials.
Are these claims realistic? Should patients now consider using CBD oil for skin cancer as part of their treatment? What is the position of the scientific community on this matter? These are just some of the questions that will be clarified in this article.
Different Forms of Skin Cancer
There are three main types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) all of which seem to respond well to the use of CBD oil. One of the most interesting things about using cannabis oil for skin cancer is how it seems to enhance the effect of conventional treatments, which means patients will likely benefit from CBD oil for melanoma, CBD oil for basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Modern research suggests 2 CBD oil can be used for skin cancer with no compromise to conventional treatment plans.
Technically speaking, CBD is the non-psychotropic component in cannabis the highly controversial plant also known as “marijuana” that was for the last few decades outlawed and banned around the world. As CBD is usually derived from industrial hemp (which is also a type of cannabis), nowadays a lot of countries have embraced its use, as long as it does not contain a high concentration of THC. In America, many states openly sell CBD products.
At this point, CBD oil for skin cancer is on the verge of being officially reintroduced to modern medicine. Since political administrations are being understandably slow and cautious in aligning with the scientific advancements, many patients have to find their CBD for skin cancer online, especially in places where cannabis legalization has not fully unfolded yet.
What is medical research saying about CBD oil for skin cancer?
Anyone who wishes to catch up to the medical research around cannabis oil as a possible cancer treatment will find massive amounts of information available online. At this point in history, cannabis has been extensively studied 3 with promising results that already led to the development of the first cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals.
There is now little reason for doubting cannabis and its extracts are real medicine, one that could be quite valuable in the treatment of cancer as well as many other diseases, both physical and mental. To understand how this is possible, a good starting point would be reading about the endocannabinoid system.
Even though it was only discovered in recent decades, this is the largest neurotransmitter system in the human body; it seems to have a key role in regulating the maintenance of physical and mental health from a cellular level, and it’s activated by the unique compounds available in the cannabis plant. These compounds, including CBD, THC and several other cannabinoids effectively seem to mimic substances that our body produces naturally, which are extremely important to the maintenance of good health 4 .
There is plenty of medical research exploring and evaluating the relationship between CBD and cancer in general, which is giving hope to patients suffering specifically form skin cancer. Studies have shown that cannabidiol can promote the apoptotic death of cancer cells 5 acting independently of the cb1 and cb2 receptors. The way this happens remains not fully known, for now, however it is assumed that it is due to the compound’s ability to enhance the production of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells 6 .
How to Use CBD Oil for Skin Cancer
Since pure CBD oil is extremely thick and unwieldy, it’s sometimes diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut oil to make it easier to apply on the skin as well as improve absorption. Some patients also dilute the oil in alcohol (creating a rubbing salve), while others just apply the pure oil directly. It seems that as long as the plant-based cannabinoids remain in contact with the cancerous wound, recovery will begin and the lesion will show signs of healing within days.
It’s worth noting the results seem to be dependent on the dose, and it typically takes a strong concentration of cannabis oil that’s applied regularly and in sufficient quantity to a skin cancer lesion, in order to effectively heal it. As well as applying the CBD oil on the cancerous lesion (if possible), it’s recommended to also consume CBD oil internally to boost the immune system 7 as well as to minimize the side effects and improve the success rate of conventional cancer treatments.
CBD oil for skin cancer: what’s the right dosage?
CBD oil has nearly no toxicity and no major side effects 8 , meaning patients shouldn’t worry about over-dosing. In fact if a patient has positive results using the oil, it can be worth trying to increase the dosage to accelerate the rate of recovery.
CBD dosage for skin cancer
dose of CBD oil for skin cancer will depend on several factors, such as your tollerance for CBD as well as the severity of your condition. We recommend starting low and gradually increasing the dossage until you see an improvement. We draw our recommendation from the book “CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medical Cannabis” by Leonard Leinow and Juliana Birnbaum 9 We describe this approach in detail in our post on CBD dosage.
CBD oil is safe to use both topically as well as internally, and in fact, it should be administered both ways at once to get the best results. Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment should benefit greatly from adding CBD oil to their diet. There are many studies available showing a CBD is very useful to minimize the side effects of conventional cancer treatments, and some evidence suggests its use is associated with improved survival rates 10 .
Using CBD Oil for Skin Cancer in Pets
This may sound a bit surprising, but CBD oil for skin cancer in pets is also a popular topic. Medical cannabis is just as effective in pets 11 as in humans; in fact, it seems to be effective in all vertebrate animals, since it has been established they all have an endocannabinoid system just like humans do.
CBD oil for skin cancer in pets is the exact same oil that is used to treat human patients. It is also used in the same way – ideally by applying the oil directly on the skin lesion, either in its pure form or diluted in a carrier. CBD oil products are safe to use both in humans as well as their pets; similarly to the treatment of human patients, it’s advisable to feed some oil to ailing pets to enhance the topical treatment.
Final Thoughts on CBD for cancer
Hopefully, this information has shed light on the usefulness of CBD for cancer, as well as the clinical potential of cannabinoid compounds available only from the cannabis plant. In the next few years, it’s highly likely cannabis will become increasingly popular in mainstream medicine… but patients who are treating a skin cancer right now don’t have the luxury of waiting – so it could be wise to learn more about the endocannabinoid system and its relevance to cancer treatment.
CBD for Skin Cancer
Just hearing the word “cancer” can be alarming—and receiving a diagnosis even more so. While skin cancer is more easily spotted and treatable than other types of cancer, it’s still just as frightening when one is diagnosed with it. After all, our skin is our first impression to the world.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., and is a broad term describing an abnormal growth of cells that has the ability to spread. The areas of the body most commonly affected are those that are exposed to the sun, but skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body.
How do most people get skin cancer? Sun exposure—more specifically, exposure to UVB radiation. This type of radiation comes from not only the sun but also sunlamps and tanning booths. Avoiding exposure to UVB radiation and using sunscreen when you are outdoors may help prevent some skin cancers from forming.
Most skin cancers—with the exception of melanomas—do not spread very quickly, if at all, and many can be successfully treated with surgical procedure called excision.
Table of Contents
- Types of Skin Cancer
- Animal Studies
- Human Studies
- Additional CBD Resources on Cancer
Types of Skin Cancer
There are different types of skin cancer. These include:
- Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
- Basal cell carcinoma: Basal cells produce new skin cells, and basal cell carcinomas usually occur on sun-exposed skin and may look like a shiny almost translucent or pearly bump on the skin. But they can also be dark brown, black, or a dark bluish color. Sometimes they are a reddish scaly patch of skin. These types of cancers tend not to spread.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cells make up the middle and outer layers of skin. This type of cancer also appears on skin exposed to sunlight, and it can manifest in different appearances on different parts of your body. This type of cancer can be aggressive, but it also isn’t prone to spreading. Squamous cell carcinoma can look like a nodule (often red), a crusty area on the skin, or a reddened area in the mouth, the anus, and around the genital area.
- Rarer types include angiosarcomas, cutaneous lymphomas, and others
- Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It develops in the pigment cells of the skin—the cells that produce melanin.
- Melanoma can also metastasize, or spread, to other areas of the body. It is metastasis that makes this cancer—and all types of cancers—so dangerous.
One of the obstacles in catching skin cancer early is that normal skin blemishes, such as moles, are often overlooked for long periods of time as being nothing to worry about. To help distinguish everyday moles from possible melanomas, use the mnemonic “ABCDE.”
- Asymmetric in shape
- Borders are irregular
- Changes in color
- Diameter over ~¼ inch (6 mm)
- Evolving changes—changes that can include shape, color, size or if a mole begins to bleed or itch
CBD and Skin Cancer
Any cell can be transformed into a cancer cell—and there are many, many ways this can happen depending on the specific cell. This is just one of the reasons there may never be a single “cure” for cancer in general; cancer represents well over 100 different types. Each type of cancer may have different mechanisms contributing to its transformation and each may have different points at which it can be treated.
Underlying all cancers is the regulation of gene expression. For every type of cancer, there is a different gene (or genes) that becomes activated or deactivated causing the cell to become cancerous.
The functions of the endocannabinoid system—the natural biological system that “overlaps” with plant-derived cannabinoids—include inhibiting tumor cell replication and growth, inhibiting the spread of a tumor (metastasis) partly by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels, and inducing a form of cell death known as apoptosis.
Some studies have indicated that poorly functioning endocannabinoid system may set the stage for conditions that allow the cancer cells to proliferate and metastasize. Note the subtle difference between a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system causing the initial transformation of cells into cancer cells and allowing cancer to progress. Think of it as the difference between a water tap where no water flows out at all and a water tap that allows a few drops of water to flow.
In mice, for example, cannabinoids have been shown to reduce the size of breast tumors and lower the frequency of metastasis. Many other studies have indicated that the endocannabinoid system is functional in the skin and may play a role in skin cancers, especially inflammatory skin cancers.
Animal models have revealed some paradoxical findings—in other words, cannabinoids have been found, under different conditions, to be both supporting cancer cells and inhibiting cancer cells. This is true for both melanoma and nonmelanoma, and may be dose dependent.
You probably guessed it—there are very studies on CBD for skin cancer in progress at the moment. For now, though, we have some limited data from studies performed in human cells cultures—but these studies used synthetic cannabinoids and not CBD.
Summary of the Use of CBD for Skin Cancer
Currently, there are only theories why CBD for skin cancer might inhibit cancerous cell growth: In particular, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties (cancer and inflammation go hand-in-hand) and its ability to inhibit the growth of the blood vessels needed to “feed” a tumor. There may also be some more direct effects of cannabinoids on tumor growth and on inducing apoptosis.
All this taken together shows promise that CBD for skin cancer could play part in future treatment protocols, but more clinical trials and more information are still needed.
Most of the common skin cancers like squamous and basal cell carcinomas are relatively noninvasive and, if caught early, can be completely removed by excision. The more invasive melanoma form of skin cancer is harder to detect and requires a more extensive treatment protocol including surgery, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy. Early melanoma has a survival rate of 98 percent—but this falls to 23 percent if the melanoma spreads to other parts of the body.
Early detection is key. This is why if you suspect that a mole on your body has changed, or you have found a new scaly patch on your skin, or you are just not certain if that spot on your skin has always looked like that or not—go see a qualified dermatologist, and follow their treatment advice. If you receive a cancer diagnosis, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about CBD for skin cancer. Ask them if they know about any new research.
CBD’s Impact on Melanoma Cells
Hannah Yohe ’21 has read the news articles and seen the new businesses popping up touting the benefits of medical marijuana and cannabidiol, or CBD. She’s watched as friends and family purchase CBD products that offer promises of helping with joint inflammation or anxiety. While the York College Biology major is a believer in the health benefits of medical marijuana, she knew there was a lot of research ahead.
“I wanted to find the gaps in what still needed to be studied,” she says. “I’m really interested in this topic and thought I had an opportunity to dive into research while it’s still early in the process.”
Yohe found that melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can easily spread to other organs, was an area that had a lot of research gaps. York College had melanoma cells available in the lab, so Yohe just had to work to get access to CBD for her independent research project.
“You can’t just go out and buy CBD, despite what you see on the shelves of health stores or even at the gas station,” she says. “There are often other additives in it, and you need a pure form to be able to conduct research. Sigma-Aldrich biotechnology provided lab quality CBD for Yohe’s research. Finally, she could get to work.
A lot of people still have uncertainty about the health benefits of medical marijuana because they don’t understand it, Yohe says. While there are more than 100 chemicals in cannabis, the two most common are THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD. Both can be found in marijuana and hemp, although marijuana has more THC, which produces the high, and hemp has more CBD, which has other medicinal properties without the high.
The FDA has approved one CBD-based drug. Epidiolex is a treatment for several severe forms of rare childhood epilepsy. The National Institutes of Health clinical trials database shows more than 160 trials involving CBD that are either active or recruiting.
“It’s a subject that has a lot of opportunity for understanding,” Yohe says. “Getting into the research now is a great foundation for the work I could be doing in my career.”
While many people think of medical marijuana as a treatment for symptoms, such as anxiety or inflammation, Yohe found that CBD was actually instrumental in treating the root of melanoma. Other medical research shows CBD reduces the size of brain tumors, decreases growth in colon cancer and pancreatic cancer, and slows down blood vessel formation.
Yohe’s research backed up her theory that CBD could reduce the melanoma, but some of her experiments were cut short because of COVID-19. Despite not getting to all of her proposed experiments, she was able to use lab equipment specific to her research and learn some fascinating things about CBD.
“A lot of things we learn in the classroom can be theoretical, so you don’t see them in real life,” she says. “It’s cool when you can do the experiment yourself and get actual data and see that this stuff is real. We can test our theories and learn by doing.”