Certain chemotherapy drugs, like cisplatin, are so effective at targeting cancer cells that they’re used against several different types of cancer, including carcinomas, germ cell tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas (2). However, due to numerous side effects like drug resistance and severe kidney damage, this chemotherapeutic is often used in combination with other anticancer drugs to reduce toxicity and the likelihood of drug resistance (2). While this approach is more effective at targeting drug-resistant cancers, patients who receive a mix of chemotherapy drugs often experience more severe and prolonged side effects than individuals who receive a single drug, further exacerbating this problem and potentially worsening a patient’s quality of life (3). The challenge facing clinicians and researchers is therefore to identify and apply effective anticancer therapies while simultaneously limiting the severity and prevalence of side effects.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many active ingredients in cannabis, with potential therapeutic applications including treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain (4). In addition, CBD has also shown potential as an antitumorigenic agent capable of attenuating the severity of certain adverse side effects of chemotherapy. Two recent studies have sought to determine the effects of CBD in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy; specifically how CBD can help treat cisplatin-resistant non-small cell lung cancer, and also how it may reduce kidney damage from cisplatin treatment (5,6). In this blog, we discuss the antitumorigenic and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, and also discuss additional considerations and limitations of CBD use for patients receiving chemotherapy.