Imagine a system that has the potential to control impact memory, appetite, metabolism, stress response, immune system, nervous system, and sleep function. Further, imagine that this system is a relative newcomer to scientific research, meaning that its full potential is likely not unlocked. You don’t have to imagine; this is the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Cannabis sativa products, known as hemp products, like cannabidiol acid (CBDA) and cannabidiol (CBD), have been reported throughout history for medicinal uses dating back to 2900 BC. Despite the rich history of medicinal use, the scientific literature surrounding the endocannabinoid system is relatively new. Our understanding continues to grow as key components of the ECS, and their biological mechanisms are identified. There are promising indications that CBD has an impact on canine cancer cell elimination.
Innovative studies to understand and build the evidence-based veterinary literature for cannabinoid efficacy are ongoing. Below, I will describe a study involving the effects of CBDA & CBD on canine cancer.
What’s The Difference Between CBD and CBDA?
First, before describing the study, here is the difference between CBD and CBDA and the definition of terpenes.
CBDA, or cannabidiol acid, is a compound that occurs in live hemp plants. Basically, it is the unheated form of cannabidiol (CBD). The plant makes the acid form (CBDA), which is decarboxylated by heat to form CBD. Neither CBD nor CBDA have an intoxicating effect on the brain and will not get you (or your pet) “high.”
Decarboxylation activates certain properties that are dormant in CBDA but also destroys some terpenes. Terpenes are bioactive aromatic compounds found in hemp plants that may offer health benefits. Research on CBDA is limited. However, there is evidence to suggest that CBDA can actually enhance the potency of CBD to improve a number of health conditions.
What is Known About CBD and Cancer?
In the past, cannabinoids have been studied for the treatment of side effects related to cancer therapies. However, more recent studies have explored CBD as a therapy alone or in conjunction with standard cancer therapies. Studies have demonstrated a reduction in the cell viability of glioma cell cultures treated with CBD. The use of hemp extracts in controlling cancer cell growth is complex and seems to be influenced by a confluence of terpenes and cannabinoids. These studies have primarily been in human cancer cell lines, and the study investigates canine cancer cell lines.
What Was the Goal of the Study?
The objective of the study was three-fold:
- To better understand the cancer cell death response associated with CBD
- To understand cancer drug interactions in combination with CBD
- To understand cell signaling pathways involved in cancer cell growth
Five canine cancer cell cultures, carcinoma, lymphoma, and three osteosarcoma lines, were treated with a blend of CBDA + CBD. Here are the results for each of the objectives:
- The results showed that CBD significantly reduced canine cancer cell proliferation uniformly. At the same time, CBDA had little to no effect at the concentrations used except for a mild effect on the lymphoma cell line at the highest concentrations. researchers found that CBD in the presence of CBDA and/or terpenes had the “entourage effect,” whereby the mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes interact to produce an augmented effect.
- CBD combined with the cancer drug vincristine consistently demonstrated a decrease in cell viability compared with either treatment alone. Researchers also found that depending on the concentrations of each compound used, CBD and another cancer drug, doxorubicin, had an additive response to the decrease of canine cancer cell viability.
- Cellular signaling pathways are a series of chemical reactions where molecules in a cell work together to control some functions. MAPK pathways are crucial for normal cellular responses and are essential in regulating gene expression, cellular growth, and survival. Abnormalities in MAPK signaling are linked to cancers. It was found that CBD treatment is related to the activation of the MAPK pathway and cancer cell elimination
What Does This Mean?
The results of this study are in accordance with other cannabinoid-based research and offer insights into this field for veterinary medicine. More research is needed before CBD is utilized as a therapy for canine cancer patients, as scientists must further study drug-drug interactions with current cancer therapies.
Overall, this study presents promising and innovative scientific, evidence-based research into CBD as a potential canine cancer therapeutic. The endocannabinoid system, and the ongoing research identifying its key components, is an exciting area as studies continue to develop our understanding of ECS functioning and promising treatment options for various ailments, including cancer.
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