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Should you be Taking CBD During Chemotherapy?

Taking CBD during chemotherapy is the way thousands of people in the US and around the world choose to tackle the often unpleasant side-effects which come along with cancer medication and treatment.

Are you considering using CBD while on chemo?

Your doctor is the person to ask. But this article should give you a grounding in the basics:

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids are organic compounds which, when taken into your body, interact with your endocannabinoid system to produce a range of effects.

Cannabidiol has been the subject of numerous tests because it appears to be beneficial for most people in a number of different ways. Current investigations relate to using CBD as a treatment for epilepsy, anxiety and chronic pain conditions.


Currently, there is no hard and fast evidence linking CBD to being an actual cancer treatment. But it is often suggested as a complementary therapy to manage the unpleasant symptoms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.

This is at least partly because CBD has no psychoactive effect. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid compound responsible for creating those effects. CBD is non-addictive and will not get you “high”.

Can I use CBD with chemotherapy?

Cannabis – and CBD products refined from cannabis – are gaining widespread use in tackling the side-effects of chemotherapy. These might include:

1) Loss of appetite

Losing your appetite is a common side-effect of cancer treatment. CBD is not thought to stimulate the appetite much on its own. But it is known to do so in combination with THC and other cannabinoids.

This might mean that creating a CBD chemotherapy regimen which also features THC might be beneficial for you if appetite is something you struggle with.

2) Nausea

Taking CBD oil for nausea from chemo is something which people around the world choose to do. While cannabidiol does seem to have some anti-emetic properties, it is mainly the THC in cannabis which appears to work best against nausea.

However, with THC also leading to usually unwanted psychoactive effects, many people prefer to try CBD first. Others swear by their CBD medication.

3) Pain relief and anti-inflammation

Cancer treatment, as well as cancer itself, can be sources of major pain. This is often caused by cancer creating pressure on the internal organs and nerves as well as inflammation.

Opioids – as well as potentially leading to later addiction troubles – are often less effective than normal when providing pain relief for cancer patients.

Considering taking CBD oil during chemotherapy lets you benefit from cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory properties as well as its ability to provide pain relief via the CB2 receptors of your endocannabinoid system.

The CB1 receptors (which THC acts on) are posited as being useful if the pain is the result of nerve damage.

Should I take indica or sativa for nausea?

The two main strains of cannabis are known for producing different effects and containing different balances of CBD. This leads many people to question whether they should take indica or sativa for nausea.

But, in truth, there isn’t really a simple answer to that question. A sativa might generally be seen as more energizing and an indica more relaxing. Yet every plant can be different. Not just every individual strain – like Afghan Kush or Jack Herer – but every individual plant within the same strain.

It depends on how the plant was grown, where it was grown, how it was harvested, the environment it was raised in, stored in and may other factors. For example, K.I.N.D. Concentrates are all made from cannabis which is grown in American soil using organic, natural techniques.

Whatever and wherever you are purchasing medical marijuana or CBD products, you should always check the label or ask the grower to find out about the quality you are getting.

That said, there are general characteristics associated with different strains:

1) Sativa

Sativa strains tend to have higher THC levels and lower CBD levels.

Often recommended for battling anxiety or for people who are planning creative pursuits because of this, rarely will taking a sativa lead to you feeling sleepy or lethargic.

This also makes sativa strains more popular with people who need to take their daily dose of medical marijuana during the day.

2) Indica

Conversely, indica strains tend to have lower THC levels and higher CBD levels.

Because of the powerful relaxation effects indica is known for, it is often suggested as being something you might want to take in the evening.

These effects lend themselves well to use for pain relief, nausea reduction and for boosting appetite (all linked to the higher CBD levels and presence of some THC).

3) Hybrid

Hybrid strains are created by growers for all kinds of purposes. Sometimes to achieve a specific flavor or to increase THC levels, for instance.

While there is usually a design purpose in mind (creating a hybrid which retains the toughness while growing of one strain but the fast-growth of another, for example), the end results of any hybrid growing process can vary immensely.

Many may be suitable for use in ameliorating the effects of chemotherapy and other cancer medication. But it is always worth discussing this with your grower.

4) Ruderalis (hemp)

More commonly known as hemp, cannabis ruderalis has almost no THC content but typically high CBD levels.

Hemp is more commonly used for producing material and other industrial purposes. It is also rarely – if ever – smoked for recreational purposes as any other strain might be.

However, those high CBD levels have led to hemp having a strong role in the creation of CBD products of all kinds. This is especially important given the current strange legal gray area which cannabis occupies in the US. It being:

  • Illegal on the federal level to the same degree as heroin, to the point where scientific researchers need a license to study it
  • Yet legal for medical purposes in (currently) 33 states
    Products made from hemp with less than 0.3% THC content should be legal everywhere.

What is the correct CBD oil dosage for nausea?

There is no one correct CBD dosage for nausea. The dosage which will be right for you will depend upon things like:

  • Your height and weight
  • How well your body tolerates CBD
  • How severe your symptoms are

It is often best to purchase products which contain set, stated quantities of CBD so you can tightly control your dose.

The importance of discussing everything with your doctor

Questions relating to whether you can take CBD oil while on chemo, or whether you personally should, are always best addressed to your doctor or health care team.

They are in the best position to know. So if you are considering taking CBD during chemotherapy, they are the place to start.