cbd oil for children cancer

Study looks at cannabis ingredient's ability to help children's tumours

British scientists are investigating whether a compound found in cannabis could be used to shrink brain tumours in children.

The study of the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was prompted by a growing number of parents giving it to children with a brain tumour after buying it online. The lead researcher, Prof Richard Grundy of Nottingham University’s children’s brain tumour centre, said in the last six months there had been a surge in parents administering it without medical advice in the belief it might help.

While no research has been done into how CBD can help children’s brain tumours, some work has been done looking at how cannabis-based molecules can help adult cancer patients. Products containing cannabidiol can be bought online, although recent changes mean companies now require a licence to sell them.

“New ways to treat childhood brain tumours are urgently needed to extend and improve the quality of life in malignant brain tumour patients, so we are excited at the prospect of testing the effect of cannabidiol on brain tumour cells,” said Grundy.

Brain tumours kill more children in the UK than any other type of cancer. Around 1,750 under-18s each year are diagnosed with cancer, of which about 400 are cancers of the brain and spinal cord.

The study, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, will seek to establish whether CBD reduces tumours. The researchers will grow cells from different brain tumours in lab conditions, some with the addition of cannabidiol molecules and others without. They will then compare how the presence of tumour cells differs in both samples through a technique called cell staining. This will help them see how many of the cells are dividing and whether any are dying.

Grundy said: “We expect the cells – brain tumour and normal brain – grown in our standard conditions to be healthy and actively dividing. We expect that normal brain cells grown in cannabidiol will remain healthy. However, we expect the brain tumour cells grown in cannabidiol to stop growing and die.”

Katie Sheen, of the Astro Brain Tumour Fund, which is co-funding the study, said if it proved to be successful CBD could be a gentler, less toxic way of treating cancer than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Dr Wai Liu, a research fellow at St George’s University of London, said: “We have performed experiments using CBD in leukaemia and it can deactivate signalling pathways, making cells more responsive to chemotherapy.”

He said some drug companies combined CBD with psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with positive responses, especially when combined with chemotherapy.

Liu added: “All cells need to communicate and these communications get jammed up, and CBD tries to correct this by restoring them. This ultimately results in these cells being able to undergo cell death.”

“People think that children’s cells are more flexible so there is a possibility that CBD may have a slightly different effect. We will only be able to understand the precise mechanism and value of this treatment when studies like this are done.”

Among those supporting the project are the parents of William Frost, a four-year-old who was diagnosed with a ependymoma brain tumour in 2014 and is being treated at the Nottingham centre. William’s father, Steve, said: “We were told halfway through 2016 that nothing more could be done for William. We couldn’t bear to accept the news and decided to look into alternative treatments.

“We started William on a low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet and cannabidiol. Six months later William’s tumour had shrunk by two-thirds. He is slowly improving and attending school part-time.”

Does medical marijuana help or harm kids with cancer?

(HealthDay)—Parents are increasingly interested in whether medical marijuana can help their children with problems like cancer-related pain and nausea—but there’s concern about interactions with their medications and a general lack of research.

That’s one of the main takeaways from a new report in Pediatrics detailing one hospital’s approach to medical marijuana.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado do not prescribe medical marijuana. But when kids are admitted, some are already using some form of it. In other cases, parents want to know if it might help with persistent problems like nausea or pain.

Several years ago, the hospital decided it needed a formal policy on the matter. It wasn’t just about deciding whether kids could use the products in the hospital, according to Dr. David Brumbaugh, associate chief medical officer.

It was also about giving parents accurate information and “having an open conversation,” he said.

“We don’t want to just say, ‘No, you can’t do this in the hospital,’ because that’s not right,” Brumbaugh said. “But also, families might continue to use it without telling us.”

And, he said, it’s important for doctors to be aware of all medications or supplements a child takes. A major reason is the potential for those substances to interact—possibly creating side effects or lowering the effectiveness of a vital medication.

As part of its policy, the hospital created a consultation service to give families information. It was also needed to support hospital staff, who could not be expected to have all the answers on medical marijuana.

In the August issue of Pediatrics, Brumbaugh’s team describes the hospital’s experience with the first 50 children seen by the service.

A full 80% had cancer, and their parents had either already started them on medical marijuana or wanted information about it. (In Colorado, kids under 18 can use it if two separate physicians certify to a medical need, and parents give consent.)

Most often, parents were seeking help for their child’s nausea and vomiting, appetite loss or pain.

“That speaks to a real need out there,” Brumbaugh said. “We still don’t have enough treatments for improving quality of life.”

But whether medical marijuana fits the bill is unknown.

“There really is an absence of data in kids and adults, too,” Brumbaugh said. It’s hard to study, because federal law deems marijuana a schedule 1 drug—meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Complicating matters, the cannabis plant is not one thing; marijuana is a variety, as is hemp. And they contain many compounds, of which THC—famous for the marijuana “high”—is only one.

Another compound, cannabidiol (CBD), has become wildly popular—showing up in commercially available oils, capsules and edibles. It does not produce a high.

A majority of the 50 children in this report were taking CBD-only products. Brumbaugh said there’s some reassurance in that, but it doesn’t mean the products are safe, either.

In fact, of the 50 kids, consultations deemed medical marijuana potentially unsafe for 64%. It was almost always because of possible interactions with their medications, Brumbaugh said.

Often, parents were advised to change the timing of the medical marijuana, to make interactions less likely. In one-quarter of cases, the advice was to avoid the products altogether.

The scenario sounded familiar to Dr. Anup Patel, a pediatric neurologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“Drug interactions are one of my major concerns,” Patel said.

Like many medications, cannabis chemicals—including THC and CBD—are metabolized by the liver, he explained. When cannabis and other medications are metabolized by the same liver enzymes, they are essentially competing: So medication levels in the blood could either be too high (causing side effects) or too low (compromising effectiveness).

Aside from safety, there is the question of effectiveness. There are approved medications containing human-made THC used for nausea related to cancer therapy. And one drug—a purified form of CBD called Epidiolex—is approved for treating certain forms of epilepsy.

But other health claims for CBD remain unproven, Patel said. Plus, he added, the many products on the market are largely unregulated, and consumers can’t be sure of what they’re getting.

Like Brumbaugh, Patel encouraged parents to talk with their child’s doctor before using any cannabis product.

“If your child needs help with symptom relief,” he said, “have a conversation with your doctor. We need to have an open dialogue.”

Sophie’s Story

Sophie Isabella Ryan was born October 3, 2012, perfectly healthy weighing in at 8 pounds, 7.4 ounces. Her birth had zero complications and I had the perfect pregnancy, doing everything right by way of diet and constant checkups with my OB. On June 20, 2013, Sophie had her first MRI scan after nystagmus, shaking of the eyeball, presented in her left eye. On June 23rd, at 8 ½ months old, Sophie was diagnosed with a low-grade, Optic Pathway Glioma brain tumor. My husband, Josh, and I were originally told that her only option would be a 13-month protocol of chemo in hopes to stop the development of the tumor. Since it is a slow-growing tumor, chemo was never meant to get rid of the tumor, and doctors told us if they saw even minimal shrinkage it would be considered a huge success.

At this point, after succumbing to an emotionally devastating situation, we decided to dust ourselves off and look for other ways to save our daughter outside of just Western medicine alone! After creating a Facebook page called “Prayers for Sophie,” a friend on Facebook put us in touch with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, who was filming a documentary about how cannabis oils kill cancer in pediatric patients. I was originally inspired to try for a natural birth after watching their first documentary, The Business of Being Born, so I knew if these ladies were now focused on a film about cannabis, there had to be something to it! These women worked hard to surround us with the top oil makers and experts in California, and so our journey to healing our daughter began!

Sophie has been on high-concentrated THC and CBD cannabis oil since she started chemo in October of 2013. The only side effects she ever had was a little sleepiness that completely went away as she acclimated to the oils. Now her only side effect is hunger, which is amazing since the chemo can affect her appetite. Despite several rounds of chemo, Sophie continued to gain weight and has a great quality of life despite having chemo once a week with short breaks from time to time. Her hair has grown back, she is advancing developmentally, and despite the nine blood transfusions she has required she is otherwise very happy and healthy.

After 13 months of chemo and high doses of cannabis oil, Sophie’s brain tumor was about 85 to 90 percent gone, and a massive cyst that had formed was about 90 percent gone! We were told that chemo would also not get rid of the cyst. We were told that Sophie would go blind in her left eye and her right eye would likely be compromised. Because of the shrinkage we have seen, we have been able to save much of her vision!

But Sophie’s story didn’t end there. Her tumor having an 85%+ recurrence rate has recurred several times. But despite these recurrences, we have continued to shrink a very difficult tumor protocol after protocol.

When Sophie began using a clinical trial drug that requires her to stop all additional medications, supplements, and vitamins, her oncology team at CHLA where she is now treated recommended we keep her on cannabis. They have watched her thrive over the years on protocols that can be very toxic. Protocols that Sophie has breezed through, often times with zero side effects at all. She is now in school with normal children her age and truly excelling. We are so proud of her every day and what she has inspired.

Because of the success, we have seen in our daughter’s 5- year battle, we have partnered with Cure Pharmaceutical here in California to fund the next 4 years of cannabis and cancer research at the Technion Institute in Israel. It’s not enough that we believe this is working, we need to KNOW that is it working and the only route to that answer is research.

Sophie finally stopped treatment after 6 long years, and was deemed a medical miracle more times than anyone can count due to her use of cannabinoid therapy alongside cancer treatments. Sophie is now part of ongoing NK Cell research led by renowned cancer research scientist Dr. Anahid Jewett at one of Southern California’s top universities. Their groundbreaking discoveries have spawned even more research on 17 cancer patients who represent all ages, many different types of cancer and are in varying stages of their treatments. The goal is to find better, less toxic treatments for patients suffering from cancer. We look forward to what the science tells us!