Updated: October 19, 2018
What’s the Best CBD Oil for Cancer?
There are dozens of CBD brands out there. With so much competition and conflicting information, how do you know which CBD product is most worthy of your time and money?
Here’s the short answer: Although much more research on CBD and cancer is needed, from what we know so far, the best CBD oil for cancer is Fab. With a wide variety of products, best-in-class quality, and affordable prices, Fab is easily our top pick. You may have heard the hype around CBD for cancer — even seen products that claim to be the best CBD for cancer. What can you believe?
A safe, natural, legal hemp extract, cannabidiol seems to be everywhere. People are using it to treat conditions like mental health disorders, inflammation, and pain, as well as the issues associated with diseases like epilepsy and MS. And among its potential benefits, one of the most exciting is the possibility of CBD for cancer treatment. That may sound too good to be true — and it’s undeniable that, while health fads come and go, many don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.
But there’s good reason to hope that CBD will prove to be the exception.
The CBD for Cancer We RAVE About
Best Overall: Fab.
Fab somehow does it all right. Top-quality CBD oil, good product selection — and they even know how to do customer service.Read Full Review
Best Quality: Populum
If you want the best quality and are willing to pay for it, Populum won’t disappoint. They provide premium products, great customer service, and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.Read Full Review
Best Value: cbdMD
Value, they say, comes at a price. But the people at cbdMD are challenging that well-worn truism with very high-quality CBD oil at very reasonable prices.Read Full Review
Research on using CBD for cancer is mostly very recent, but there is already a lot to talk about. Reading scientific studies may not be your cup of tea, but not to worry — we’ll break down some of the research that’s been done.
We can’t possibly cover everything that’s been written on CBD for cancer, but we’ll look at some of its most important benefits for cancer patients, from slowing tumor growth to alleviating the pain of chemotherapy.
We’ll also explore what the best CBD for cancer might look like — and what you should watch out for.
But before we dive into the science, let’s take a look at the top 10 best CBD oils for cancer.
Best CBD Oils for Cancer
Fab is obsessed with your health, and their products show it. They source the best organic Colorado-grown hemp for their CO2-extracted CBD oil. And if you’re familiar with CBD lingo, they use CBD distillate for their formulations, resulting in a clear, residue-free finished product.
Their CBD tinctures range in concentration from a low 150 mg up to 1200 mg per 30 ml. And you can choose from 3 flavors.
They also care a lot about user experience. Their website is bright, clean, and easy to navigate, and their customer service is great — they’re happy to answer all your nitpicky questions about their products (we know from first-hand experience).
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If you’re looking for great value without sacrificing quality, the folks at cbdMD are probably your people. They’ve found a way to provide very high-quality CBD at very good prices — and with a solid return policy to boot.
You’ll probably notice pretty quickly that product design isn’t their forte, but don’t be fooled. Their products check all the boxes when it comes to quality. They only use domestically sourced, organic hemp (grown in Kentucky and Colorado), and you can find lab reports from third-party tests on the website.
Also, if you like to have some choice when it comes to concentration and flavor, cbdMD’s tinctures provide that too.
If you’re willing to spend some money on your CBD, Populum’s a good place to spend it. At 20 cents per milligram of CBD, their products aren’t cheap — but they are very, very good.
Populum sources organic Colorado hemp grown to exacting standards and utilizes a clean CO2 extraction method. The company puts a premium on customer experience — from their beautiful website to a well-designed bottle you need not be ashamed to pull out in polite company.
Even the packaging looks great — and in that packaging, you’ll find a copy of the third-party lab report that was done on your specific batch of CBD oil. So you can feel confident that what’s inside is worth every penny.
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CBDistillery is a Colorado-based company that is committed to providing top-quality CBD oil at affordable prices. They’ve been around since 2016 and have gathered a solid base of customers through their great products and customer service.
No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance CBDistillery has it. They offer tinctures in a wide range of concentrations (as well as capsules, topicals, vapes, and wax). The one drawback is the website. If you know exactly what you want, you’ll probably love their shop — but it can be overwhelming if you’re unsure.
The company proudly claims that their hemp is grown without pesticides, and their third-party lab reports, unlike most others, verify this (you can find those reports on the product pages as you shop).
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Pure Hemp Botanicals
Another Colorado-based company, Pure Hemp Botanicals is a great CBD company with good prices and a strong social conscience. They use sustainable, organically grown hemp for their CBD oils. And they really do mean it when they say “pure hemp” — all products have a minimalist ingredient list.
The company is deeply committed to keeping their processes as environmentally harmless as possible, from using locally grown hemp down to their plant-based packaging.
They are also one of the more transparent companies in the world of CBD: They put batch numbers on their products so that you can find the third-party lab test for your specific batch of CBD oil.
Receptra Naturals makes its home in Colorado, sourcing their organic hemp from local, family-owned farms. They offer great value for their CBD oil, and they do it without compromising on quality.
With 2 product lines for their tinctures, Receptra Naturals wants to offer CBD oils tailored to as wide an array of people as they can. The Health & Wellness CBD line comes in 2 concentrations, while the Active Lifestyle tinctures have 3 options for concentration.
The website provides a wealth of information about their CBD (and CBD in general), and the lab tests are there to verify that you’re getting a top-quality product.
Canna Trading Co.
Established in 2015 with a vape product line, Canna Trading Co.’s offerings have expanded to include some of the best THC-free CBD tinctures you can find. The company is based in California and puts a premium on high-quality products, reasonable prices, and great customer service.
When you’re looking for a THC-free product, you want to be sure that you’re getting what you’re promised. Canna Trading Co. makes this super easy by putting their third-party lab tests on their site — right on the product page.
And if you keep scrolling through the lab results, you’ll see that it includes test results for contaminants like pesticides and residual solvents as well. That’s a laudably high degree of transparency for a CBD company.
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If you’re in the market for a CBD isolate, Medterra is a great place to get it. They are a Kentucky-based business, fully compliant with that state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot program. That means their hemp is grown according to stringent guidelines, and they use a clean CO2 extraction process.
Their product design certainly leaves something to be desired, but Medterra is justly proud of the quality of their products. Each batch of their CBD oil is tested by a third-party lab, and you can find those results easily on their website.
Customer reviews are widely positive for Medterra’s products, and we found customer service to be both prompt and happy to answer our questions.
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One of the newcomers to the CBD market, Hemplucid is working hard to build a loyal base of customers for their line of CBD products. From what we can tell, their strategy for this is twofold: making top-quality products and making a big deal about transparency.
Their prices aren’t exactly low, but that can be forgiven: The company is doing a lot of things right. They source their hemp from certified organic farms in Colorado (more information about that on the company’s website). And all their products are full spectrum, so you can benefit from the full entourage effect.
Hemplucid also has solid customer service — they answer their phones and emails quickly and give good, complete answers to product questions.
A company much beloved and trusted by parents of children with special needs, Palmetto Harmony has its origins in the need for premium CBD oil for the founders’ own daughter, Harmony. To find what they needed, the family took the process into their own hands. The result is a company dedicated to the highest standards in full-spectrum CBD oil.
Based in South Carolina, Palmetto Harmony sources their hemp from domestic farms that utilize organic practices. Third-party lab test results are available upon request, and they show testing for the cannabinoid profile as well as a range of contaminants. This goes well beyond what most CBD companies are willing to have publicly available.
The company has a relatively strict return policy, but customer service is fast and very forthcoming with information.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD — or cannabidiol — works through interactions with the endocannabinoid system. Located throughout your brain and body, the endocannabinoid system is composed of chemicals (cannabinoids) and receptors.
Cannabinoids can be produced by your body (endocannabinoids) or come from plants (phytocannabinoids). Regardless of their origin, they all work by binding with, or stimulating, 2 receptors: CB1 and CB2.
Part of the magic behind phytocannabinoids as medical treatment is that they are so similar to our bodies’ endocannabinoids. This means that our bodies are able to integrate them better than other synthetic drugs.
But it’s actually physiologically impossible for CBD, on its own, to make you high. This is because of the unique way it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Scientists have found that CBD doesn’t actually bind well with either receptor. Rather, CBD stimulates both endocannabinoid receptors (among others), creating a wide range of therapeutic effects. The list of CBD’s potential benefits is long, but there’s mounting evidence for its action in these areas, at a minimum:
- Pain modulation
How the endocannabinoid system as a whole relates to cancer growth is still up for debate. Studies have shown that a higher concentration of endocannabinoids and their respective enzymes is often associated with the aggressiveness of cancer. This fact alone suggests that when the endocannabinoid system is over-activated, or out of balance, it could play a role in the development of cancer. But, confusingly, there are also reports that heightened endocannabinoid signaling can be antitumorigenic, meaning it can prevent the growth of cancerous tumors. A 2008 study showed that elevated levels of endocannabinoids can reduce the development of precancerous lesions in a mouse colon.
Clearly, there’s a long road ahead before we really understand the relationship between the endocannabinoid system and cancer. But we’re farther along when it comes to the effects of specific cannabinoids themselves.
Cannabinoids and Cancer
While research is still in the early phases, scientists are looking closely at the relationship between the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and cancer. So far, studies on CBD have all been at the pre-clinical level, meaning they haven’t involved actual human cancer patients. That is important to note, since results don’t always translate perfectly from a mouse or rat to a human body.
To date, cannabinoids have mostly been used to combat pain and nausea — both officially (or under doctor’s orders) and unofficially. We don’t know exactly how many people use cannabis to treat symptoms, because many people do so without telling their doctors.
Scientists have known for some time of the palliative effects of cannabinoids. But of late, there have been several pre-clinical studies that indicate that cannabinoids have anticancer properties. These benefits go well beyond the relief of cancer-related pain and nausea (though that is also an important and much-needed benefit). To quote the authors of a 2018 review of scientific literature on cannabinoids and cancer: “Many in vitro and in vivo experiments have shown that cannabinoids inhibit proliferation of cancer cells, stimulate autophagy and apoptosis, and have also a potential to inhibit angiogenesis and metastasis.”
That’s not easy reading, but essentially the authors state that there’s good evidence that cannabinoids keep cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, trigger the healthy death of cells, and inhibit the growth and spread of tumors.
(And just for future reference, since these words come up a lot: In vitro refers to an experiment that takes place in a test tube or petri dish. In vivo means an experiment on a living being — usually a mouse or rat in a pre-clinical test, or a human in a clinical trial.)
The authors of a study looking at the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids go further, stating that “the literature is nearly unanimous in suggesting that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids reduce the progression of cancer in both in vivo pre-clinical and in vitro model systems.”
Sounds promising. There is a catch, though. As scientist Paola Masi notes in her 2013 article in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the clinical use of THC and other synthetic cannabinoids is often limited by their unwanted psychoactive side effects. Enter CBD. Non-psychoactive, and with proven benefits in a number of other areas, scientists have begun to focus their attention on the cannabinoid cousin that doesn’t make you high.
Don’t get us wrong. Scientists continue to take THC very seriously both for the relief of pain and nausea and as an anticancer treatment. But there’s a lot of excitement around the potential of CBD, both in conjunction with THC and on its own.
CBD for Cancer Prevention
You’ve probably heard the saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Fighting cancer begins long before a diagnosis. If early studies are any indication, CBD is showing signs that it may be worth its weight in gold.
One promising area related to CBD and cancer prevention has to do with its anti-inflammatory benefits. Scientists have known for a long time that chronic inflammation is related to the development of cancer.
But so far, most research in this area has been related to synthetic drugs that attack inflammation. In 2005, Oncology Reports published a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Researchers concluded that “daily intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), primarily aspirin, produced risk reductions of 63% for colon, 39% for breast, 36% for lung, and 39% for prostate cancer.” Professor Fran Balkwill, at the Barts Cancer Institute in the UK, puts it this way: “If genetic damage is the ‘match that lights the fire’ of cancer, some types of inflammation may provide the ‘fuel that feeds the flames’.”
In fact, in a 2009 study published in Future Medicinal Chemistry, researchers explicitly draw the link between the anti-inflammatory action of cannabinoids and cancer prevention: “Cannabinoids may also be beneficial in certain types of cancers that are triggered by chronic inflammation. In such instances, cannabinoids can either directly inhibit tumor growth or suppress inflammation and tumor angiogenesis.“ Another preventative effect of CBD is related to, but distinct from, its anti-inflammatory benefit — its ability to protect the body from oxidative damage. Scientists know that oxidative damage is another big culprit when it comes to developing cancer, and CBD has been shown to have antioxidant effects.
If you do some research on CBD for cancer prevention, you’ll likely come across this oft-cited 2012 in vivo experiment involving colorectal cancer cell lines and mice. In it, researchers found that CBD exerted a chemopreventive effect (which means that it helps prevent a healthy individual from developing cancer). Specifically, they found that CBD protected mouse DNA from oxidative damage, increased endocannabinoid levels, and reduced cell proliferation.
In the experiment, mice were treated with azoxymethane (a carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemical compound) in order to produce pre-malignant and malignant lesions in the mouse colon. But the researchers found that mice who were given CBD at the same time were protected from developing the lesions.
The conclusion? “Cannabidiol (CBD) exerts chemopreventive effect in vivo and reduces cell proliferation through multiple mechanisms…. Our findings suggest that cannabidiol might be worthy of clinical consideration in colon cancer prevention.” There’s no question that a lot more research is needed in regards to CBD’s ability to prevent cancer. But these early indicators more than justify larger scale studies that will give us clearer answers as to how CBD works and how its benefits can best be exploited.
A Pound of Cure: CBD as Cancer Treatment
What young scientist hasn’t dreamed of discovering that elusive “cure for cancer”? In fact, different cancers demand different treatments, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to find one magical cure. That being said, early studies show that using CBD for cancer may work on multiple levels.
But before we look at the science, it’s important to re-emphasize that all of the research on CBD for cancer so far has taken place at the pre-clinical level. That means that none of these findings have ever been tested on humans. So we are in no way suggesting that a person with cancer should ignore or disregard the advice of a physician in order to give CBD a try.
With that caution in mind, we’ll take a look at some of the research that has been done in regards to using CBD for cancer. There’s no way to cover it all — at least not in a succinct and readable manner. But we’ll try to hit the most important points.
CBD for Cancer: Angiogenesis
One of the most important findings in recent research is that CBD has the ability to inhibit angiogenesis. Angiogenesis (angio = blood vessels, genesis = beginning) simply refers to the formation of new blood vessels, which, under normal circumstances, is a normal part of growth and healing.
But angiogenesis can become a problem when a person has cancer. This is because the blood vessels that are produced through angiogenesis actually provide a tumor with the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow and spread.
So, it makes sense that many anticancer drugs are intended to target the process of angiogenesis, thereby cutting off the supply of nutrients to the tumor. But these drugs, called angiogenesis inhibitors, come with a long list of side effects — including hemorrhage, blood clots, and hypertension, just for starters.
CBD, on the other hand, has a good safety profile and comes with few side effects (the main concern being the possibility of drug-to-drug interactions). This makes it very, very attractive as a potential angiogenesis inhibitor.
Until late 2012, CBD’s antiangiogenic benefits remained a hypothesis. But an extensive study conducted in 2012 brought these claims under the microscope. For the study, researchers performed a series of in vitro experiments involving the effects of CBD on angiogenesis — both in healthy endothelial cells (cells that line the surface of blood vessels) and tumor cells.
The study then culminated in a successful in vivo experiment on mice, leading researchers to state conclusively that: “CBD inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms. Its dual effect on both tumor and endothelial cells supports the hypothesis that CBD has potential as an effective agent in cancer therapy.”
Many more studies will need to confirm these results before CBD is approved as a mainstream angiogenesis inhibitor. In fact, it will take many more studies before mainstream science truly proves the benefits of CBD for cancer at all. But the 2012 study was a big step in the right direction, and it guarantees future research in this area.
CBD for Cancer: Apoptosis and Tumor Control
Put simply, cancer is unchecked cell growth. When a person has cancer, mutations in genes can accelerate cell division — and we’ve looked at how the process of angiogenesis can be used to support that uncontrolled growth.
But cancer works through multiple mechanisms, both creating the conditions for uncontrolled cell growth and then interrupting normal controls that should impede that growth. One of these processes is apoptosis. Apoptosis refers to the programmed death of cells, which, under normal circumstances, keeps the growth of cells under control.
When a person has cancer, apoptosis is interrupted, allowing cells to grow and spread unchecked. The result is the development of tumors.
But multiple studies have shown CBD to induce apoptosis in tumor cells, inhibiting the growth and spread of cancer. If you’ve ever read on CBD for cancer and come across a reference to its anti-proliferative effects, this is what they’re referring to. Here are some studies that have looked specifically at CBD’s ability to create apoptosis:
- This 2013 study of CBD-induced apoptosis of human lung cancer cells
- This 2011 study on breast cancer that investigated the mechanisms through which CBD coordinates “cross-talk” between apoptosis and a related process called autophagy
- This 2006 study, which researched CBD-induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells
Depending on the type of cancer, the process of apoptosis varies. CBD has been shown to work at multiple levels simultaneously, and scientists are still working out the nuances of how CBD operates. But it seems that one of CBD’s effects is increasing ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) production, which induces apoptosis through oxidative stress.
This is ironic, since CBD is usually studied as an antioxidant. But CBD has the ability to induce oxidative stress on targeted cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged.
A drug that specifically targets cancer cells, without damaging healthy ones? This benefit is gold in the world of cancer treatment.
CBD for Cancer: Pain, Nausea, and Other Side Effects
Probably the most common use of cannabinoids, in terms of cancer treatment, is for palliative care. In common parlance, the word “palliative care” is usually associated with a patient who is dying. But the word “palliative” simply refers to a treatment that relieves pain and suffering. And there’s little doubt about cannabinoids in this context.
For millennia (literally), people have used cannabinoids to treat pain, relieve nausea, stimulate appetite, and generally combat all manner of symptoms of various illnesses. In terms of nausea and vomiting, multiple studies now back human experience with hard evidence. To wit, this researcher’s statement: “Pre-clinical research indicates that cannabinoids, including CBD, may be effective clinically for treating both nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy or other therapeutic treatments.” Fewer studies have looked at using CBD for pain related to cancer, but that is beginning to change. In 2009 and 2011, clinical studies looked at the effects of cannabinoids on neuropathic pain — a frequent result of chemotherapy.
Both studies used the FDA-approved drug Sativex (which contains a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC), and the results confirmed that cannabinoids reduced pain scores when compared with placebo. The later study went further, contrasting the CBD plus THC combination against THC alone. And the results were conclusive: Patients did not experience the same pain relief without the CBD present.
A 2014 pre-clinical study also looked at the effects of CBD on mice with chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain, with very promising results. Researchers found that CBD both protected against neurotoxicity and helped relieve neuropathic pain.
While the science is in the early stages, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. It’s hard to dispute the numbers of people that are using CBD — with or without THC — to help with the side effects of both cancer and cancer treatment. But the question of THC leads us squarely into one of the big questions around using CBD for cancer — namely, whether the best CBD for cancer necessarily includes THC.
Does the Best CBD for Cancer Include THC?
There’s still so much to learn about how CBD works, and many questions about what the best CBD for cancer looks like are very much unanswered. The so-called “entourage effect” lands squarely in this category.
You may have noticed that many studies look at CBD in combination with THC. This is partly because one of the drugs approved by the FDA, Sativex, combines the 2 cannabinoids in a 1:1 formulation. These studies somewhat complicate the issue, because it makes it difficult to know which cannabinoid is doing what.
On the other hand, there’s evidence that cannabinoids work best in conjunction with each other rather than in isolation. This phenomenon is what is referred to as the “entourage effect.” We’ve noted the research that suggests that CBD and THC work better together to relieve pain, as opposed to THC alone.
There is also experimental data that suggests that keeping CBD and THC together as a combined treatment may be more effective in reducing cancer cell proliferation — and therefore a better choice for cancer therapy. If it’s true that cannabinoids work together synergistically (and we should note that the idea of the entourage effect has its critics), then it stands to reason that the best CBD for cancer would contain a broad spectrum of cannabinoids — with at least some THC.
But the truth is, we’re moving ahead of the science in even making such a speculation. It will take more research before we really understand how cannabinoids work together.
Cautionary Conclusions: How Can You Find the Best CBD for Cancer?
All of the research on CBD for cancer is in the very early stages. It will take time, research, and many clinical trials before CBD is considered a dependable treatment. And there’s no guarantee at all that clinical trials will see the same results as lab tests. At most, researchers are calling urgently for more in-depth and larger scale studies and clinical trials.
So, realistically, it’s going to be a while before we know what the best CBD for cancer looks like. We don’t really know how effective it is, nor do we know how it should be used in terms of dosing, potency, cannabinoid profile, and method of delivery.
There is also the possibility of interactions with other drugs. And we are neither medical practitioners nor scientists, so we’re not going to make any guesses.
Taking all of this scientific uncertainty into account, any company that claims to be selling The Best CBD for Cancer probably isn’t. The best CBD for cancer will be backed up by science, and it will be properly formulated, regulated, and dosed. We aren’t there yet. But if you’re looking for a good CBD oil (and we cannot stress enough — especially if you have cancer — this should be done under the guidance of a doctor), we can point you in the direction of some solid companies crafting high-quality products. Refer to our list above for the 10 best CBD oils for you to try.
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