EducationCan CBD oil reduce the nausea related to chemotherapy?

Can CBD oil reduce the nausea related to chemotherapy?

7 min read

Sam North

Can CBD oil reduce the nausea related to chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) are distressing side effects commonly experienced by individuals undergoing chemotherapy. These symptoms can significantly impact the quality of life, overall health, and treatment outcomes for cancer patients. In recent years, there has been growing interest in exploring alternative and complementary therapies to manage CINV effectively. One such potential option is medical cannabis, and in particular, CBD oil. This is a rich source of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant.


Understanding CBD and its properties

CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound derived from the cannabis plant. It is distinct from THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis that causes the ‘high’ sensation. CBD has captured considerable interest due to its potential therapeutic properties and its interaction with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), all while being totally non-intoxicating.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an extensive system of receptors and neurotransmitters that plays a crucial role in regulating diverse physiological processes such as pain perception, mood regulation, immune response and even nausea. CBD interacts with the ECS, influencing its activity and potentially promoting equilibrium within the body.

CBD oil has emerged as a popular choice for individuals seeking relief from different health conditions, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Its potential anti-nausea and anti-emetic properties have attracted attention in both preclinical and clinical research. Although the precise mechanisms are still being investigated, it’s believed that CBD interacts with serotonin receptors and other neurotransmitters associated with the regulation of nausea.

CBD products available in the UK are predominantly derived from hemp plants, which naturally contain high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. The CBD is extracted from the plant material and then combined with a carrier oil, most often MCT oil, to create CBD oil. This formulation makes it easier for patients to administer and allows for precise dosing.

In the United Kingdom, CBD oil and other CBD products are legally available for purchase. They can be found in various forms, including oils, capsules, edibles, topicals and more. It’s important to note that CBD products should be obtained from reputable sources to ensure their quality, purity, and adherence to legal regulations.

The medicinal cannabis sector is subject to far more stringent regulatory oversight than the ‘over the counter’ market, and so products are rigorously tested in order to ensure they meet safety and quality standards.

Current research on CBD oil for nausea from chemotherapy

Current research on CBD oil's potential for managing CINV has shown promising results. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that CBD exhibits anti-nausea and anti-emetic effects, suggesting its potential as an effective therapeutic agent. CBD is believed to interact with serotonin receptors, specifically the 5-HT1A receptor, which plays a crucial role in nausea regulation.

Unfortunately, many of the clinical studies on the potential therapeutic properties of cannabinoids on CINV have looked at the use of THC and CBD in combination. In the UK, products containing more than 0.2% THC are controlled substances. They are only available on prescription, whereas CBD products with at most 0.2% THC are legal for general sale.

There is, however, one study that looked purely at the potential of CBD to alleviate CINV. Titled Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids, this study involved a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy were administered oral CBD in combination with their standard antiemetic medication. The study found that CBD significantly improved the control of nausea and vomiting compared to the placebo group.

How does CBD potentially reduce the symptoms of CINV?

The potential mechanisms of action by which CBD may help in managing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) are still being explored. CBD interacts with various biological pathways and receptors in the body, including the endocannabinoid system (ECS), serotonin receptors and other neurotransmitter systems. Here are some potential mechanisms of action:

Anti-inflammatory effects: Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can contribute to the development of nausea and vomiting. CBD has been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory properties by interacting with immune cells and reducing the release of pro-inflammatory molecules. By reducing inflammation, CBD may help alleviate CINV symptoms.

Serotonin receptor modulation: CBD has been found to interact with serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-HT1A receptor. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating nausea and vomiting. CBD's interaction with these receptors may modulate serotonin signalling, thereby reducing CINV symptoms.

GABAergic modulation: CBD has been found to affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which are involved in regulating anxiety and nausea. By enhancing GABAergic neurotransmission, CBD may have an anti-anxiety effect and potentially reduce CINV symptoms associated with anxiety.

TRPV1 receptor activation: CBD has been shown to activate transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptors, which are involved in pain perception and regulation of body temperature. Activation of these receptors may influence the release of neurotransmitters involved in nausea and vomiting, potentially reducing CINV symptoms.

Neurotransmitter modulation: CBD may interact with various neurotransmitter systems, including dopamine, glutamate and opioid receptors, which are involved in the regulation of nausea and vomiting. Modulation of these neurotransmitters by CBD may contribute to its antiemetic effects.

Benefits and risks of CBD oil for CINV

CBD oil has shown potential benefits in managing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). By targeting multiple mechanisms involved in CINV, such as anti-inflammatory, antiemetic and anxiolytic effects, CBD oil may provide symptom relief and improve the overall quality of life for individuals undergoing chemotherapy.

When considering the addition of CBD oil for managing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), it is crucial to take into account several factors, including dosage, route of administration and timing. The appropriate dosage of CBD oil can vary depending on individual characteristics, such as body weight, the intensity of symptoms and personal response to the treatment

The standard routes of applying CBD oil are through, inhalation, sublingual application, edibles, or directly onto the skin. All of these forms may be of use to people suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy, and by engaging with a doctor that is experienced in prescribing medicinal cannabis products, the most beneficial route and dosage can be determined. 

You also need to be aware that, while CBD oil is generally well-tolerated, it does have potential risks and side effects. These include dry mouth, drowsiness and potential interactions with other medications. Consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial to ensure CBD oil is used safely and effectively as part of the overall management of CINV.

Other considerations

When considering the use of CBD oil for managing CINV during chemotherapy, it’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals. They have a comprehensive understanding of your medical history, current treatment plan, and potential interactions with other medications. Consulting with your healthcare team will help ensure that CBD oil is safe and suitable for your specific situation.

CBD oil use is legal in the United Kingdom, but it must meet specific criteria. It should be derived from hemp plants with THC content not exceeding 0.2%. To ensure quality and compliance with regulations, it is recommended to purchase CBD oil from reputable sources that offer third-party lab testing.

Consulting with healthcare professionals can also provide valuable guidance on the legal and regulatory aspects of using CBD oil for managing CINV in the UK. They can provide clarity on the specific regulations and help individuals navigate the legal considerations associated with CBD oil use.

CBD oil for CINV in brief

As the research is showing, CBD oil has emerged as a potential option for managing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).

Scientific studies suggest that CBD oil may offer antiemetic and symptom-relieving benefits, improving the quality of life for individuals undergoing chemotherapy. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of action and determine optimal dosage and administration methods. It’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating CBD oil into CINV management, considering factors such as dosage, timing, and potential drug interactions.

Additionally, individuals should ensure they are purchasing CBD oil from reputable sources that comply with legal and regulatory requirements. While CBD oil shows promise, further research will continue to shed light on its effectiveness and safety for managing CINV, providing a clearer understanding of its role as a complementary approach to conventional antiemetic therapies.

Releaf understands the importance of medical cannabis in treating various medical conditions. With our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, you can access the treatment you need without worrying about the stigma. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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