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Botanicals, Cannabinoids & Cancer

by Caileen Vermilyea |

Botanicals, Cannabinoids
  & Cancer


Common uses in palliative care:

pain, nausea relief (associated with chemo & radiation), appetite stimulation (7)

Therapeutic potential: 

Anti-tumor effects seen in various cancer types- dependent upon cancer type and drug dose/concentration (vitro & vivo studies)(5,6,7)

Roles of endocannabinoids: CB1 receptors are primarily in Central Nervous System, CB2 receptors primarily expressed on the surface of immune cells.

  1. Most studies suggest that CB receptors and their endogenous ligands are upregulated in tumor tissue and that the overexpression of ECS components correlates with tumor aggressiveness (5,6). 
  2. A tumor suppressive role of the Endocannabinoid System is also seen. (5) 
  3.  Experimental studies show anti-tumorigenic properties: inhibits tumor cell proliferation, induces apoptosis (Cell death) in vitro, block angiogenesis (new blood flow) and prevents tumor invasion/metastasis in vivo. (7, 8, 5,9). 
  4.  CBD has been shown to preferentially inhibit survival of breast cancer cells by inducing apoptosis and autophagy (12)

Other Compounds Active in Cannabis relevant to Cancer: 

cited by NDNR CEUs

Terpenes & Cancer:


  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) via increases in serotonin and dopamine 
  • Normalizes CD4/8 ratio (white blood cell markers), often altered in cancer 
  • Produces apoptosis (cell death) of breast cancer cells


  • Most common monoterpene in cannabis 
  • Decreases pain and tension, spasms, insomnia, and nausea  

Lignans & cancer 

Cannabisin (A-F)

Found in cannabis seeds and roots - free radical scavenging and anti-cancer activity 

Cannabisin B 

Purified from hemp seed hull, shown to have anti-cancer properties 

Cannabisin F 

Has shown to have cytotoxic properties and may fight against some cancers 

 Omegas 3/6- EPA/DHA

Rich in hemp. In vitro studies show EPA/DHA can form endocannabinoids that promote autophagy and apoptosis, augment chemotherapeutic actions (increase effects of therapeutic agents), and induce cell cycle arrest (prevents growth of cancer cells) . 

Certain Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats newly identified in cannabis act similarly to endocannabinoids in the body.

Cannabinoid Effectiveness in Relevant Non-Cancer specific symptoms:

Treats conditions associated with low levels of endocannabinoids; Replenishing the Endocannabinoid system improves pain threshold, sleep patterns, mood/affect, and digestion.

Revitalising for the HPA Axis (intimately involved with stress response and energy)

Anti anxiety, Anti-depressant effects , antipsychotic, neuroprotective properties (13)

Vast majority of studies showed that antioxidant supplementation during chemotherapy significantly reduced toxicity of drugs.

Cancer Care & HE Products:

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Liquid error: product form must be given a product

balances & Supports

Enhances connection, Promotes longevity, Restore foundations

Nurture body & soul, Improve adaptation, Physical, mental, emotional stability

Bolsters the regulation of most major organ systems and bodily processes


Products for Pain

Hemp Oil Extracts

Traditional Hemp Extract, Potent Hemp Extract

Soothe’ Herbal tincture with full spectrum hemp extract 

White Willow, Devils claw, california poppy, Wild Yam, Feverfew, AlbiziaTargets the sensory components of pain, decreases overall inflammation, promotes repair of abnormalities in neural pain pathways, and supports the nervous system’s response to painful stimuli.  

soothe elixir -
potent oil -
traditional oil -

Products for Insomnia/Anxiety/mental-emotional realm 


Calm Tincture 

 Skullcap, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, chamomile, lavender, licorice, hemp.  Designed to repair the nervous system, addressing common concerns such as anxiety, restless thoughts, depression, stress, tension, headaches and pain.

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Sleep Herbal Hemp tea 

Chamomile, passionflower, hops, damiana, holy basil, skull cap, oat tops, lavender.   Designed to address the components of sleep from many angles, including restoration of the nervous system function and mood improvement. Helps normalize hormones that are responsible for wakefulness and restfulness.

sleep hemp tea -

Cancer Care References

  1. The Use of Medical Marijuana in Cancer. Birdsall SM, Birdsall TC, Tims LA Curr Oncol Rep. 2016 Jul; 18(7):40.
  2. The Synthetic Cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 Elicits Death in Human Cancer Cell Lines. Müller L, Radtke A, Decker J, Koch M, Belge G. Anticancer Res. 2017 Nov; 37(11):6341-6345. 
  3. Cannabinoid pharmacology in cancer research: A new hope for cancer patients? Javid FA, Phillips RM, Afshinjavid S, Verde R, Ligresti A Eur J Pharmacol. 2016 Mar 15; 775():1-14. 
  4. Cannabinoid receptors: nomenclature and pharmacological principles. Console-Bram L, Marcu J, Abood ME Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul 2; 38(1):4-15. 
  5. Endocannabinoids and Cancer. Velasco G, Sánchez C, Guzmán M Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2015; 231():449-72. 
  6. Update on the endocannabinoid system as an anticancer target. Malfitano AM, Ciaglia E, Gangemi G, Gazzerro P, Laezza C, Bifulco M Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2011 Mar; 15(3):297-308. 
  7. Cannabinoids for cancer treatment: progress and promise. Sarfaraz S, Adhami VM, Syed DN, Afaq F, Mukhtar H Cancer Res. 2008 Jan 15; 68(2):339-42. 
  8. Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in cancer: current status and future implications.Chakravarti B, Ravi J, Ganju RK Oncotarget. 2014 Aug 15; 5(15):5852-72. 
  9. Cannabinoids: potential anticancer agents. Guzmán M Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Oct; 3(10):745-55. 
  10. Cannabinoid signalling. Demuth DG, Molleman A Life Sci. 2006 Jan 2; 78(6):549-63. 
  11. Cannabinoids: a new hope for breast cancer therapy? Caffarel MM, Andradas C, Pérez-Gómez E, Guzmán M, Sánchez C Cancer Treat Rev. 2012 Nov; 38(7):911-8. 
  12. Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy.Shrivastava A, Kuzontkoski PM, Groopman JE, Prasad A Mol Cancer Ther. 2011 Jul; 10(7):1161-72. 
  13. Crippa, José A et al. “Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age.” Frontiers in immunology vol. 9 2009. 21 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009 
  14. Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Wilken R, Veena MS, Wang MB, Srivatsan ES 
  15. Curcumin as an anti-cancer agent: review of the gap between basic and clinical applications. Bar-Sela G, Epelbaum R, Schaffer M Curr Med Chem. 2010; 17(3):190-7. 
  16. The chemopreventive agent curcumin is a potent radiosensitizer of human cervical tumor cells via increased reactive oxygen species production and overactivation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Javvadi P, Segan AT, Tuttle SW, Koumenis C Mol Pharmacol. 2008 May; 73(5):1491-501. 
  17. Curcumin sensitizes human colorectal cancer xenografts in nude mice to gamma-radiation by targeting nuclear factor-kappaB-regulated gene products. Kunnumakkara AB, Diagaradjane P, Guha S, Deorukhkar A, Shentu S, Aggarwal BB, Krishnan S Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Apr 1; 14(7):2128-36. 
  18. Wright, Laura E et al. “Bioactivity of turmeric-derived curcuminoids and related metabolites in breast cancer.” Current pharmaceutical design vol. 19,34 (2013): 6218-25. doi:10.2174/1381612811319340013 
  19. Crichton, Megan, et al. "Efficacy of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in Ameliorating Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting and Chemotherapy-Related Outcomes: A Systematic Review Update and Meta-Analysis." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2019). 
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  25. Zhao, Lian-Mei, et al. "Prevention effects of Schisandra polysaccharide on radiation-induced immune system dysfunction." International journal of biological macromolecules 76 (2015): 63-69. 
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