Cancer, Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System: October 2022

This review study discusses the role of the Endocannabinoid System in the human body and its effect on the generation of cancerous tumors (carcinogenesis). It also examines the use of cannabis extracts and their components for primary and secondary care of cancer. It was published in October 2022 in the journal Cancers.

The authors give a nice scientific overview of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), and is a good reference if you want to keep one handy (full text link at end of this summary).

Cannabinoids and terpenes have also been shown to affect most of the other systems in the human body such as the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.

We don't spend a lot of time covering the human biological systems because we focus mostly on which active ingredient combinations work best for different goals. Understanding the operational details of these systems isn't really necessary for that, the same way you don't need that knowledge to know if aspirin works well for your headaches. A medical or wellness product either works or it doesn't, and doctors usually don't bother explaining HOW it works when they prescribe a medication.

But it is important to know that the ECS exists inside each of us (and our pets, too), and there are benefits that we don't directly "feel" when we take cannabinoids. This study is fairly comprehensive in its analysis of the ECS and current research on cannabis' effectiveness for cancer treatment.

A very basic summary of the ECS in the human body:

  • Cannabinoids created inside our bodies and cannabinoids created by plants interact with the ECS that operates in our body to maintain homeostasis.
  • The ECS promotes healthy development of tissues and regulates many of our biological processes ,and when it is unbalanced may lead to disease, including cancer.

Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the two most bioactive endocannabinoids created by our bodies, and they trigger activation of the CB receptors in our endocannabinoid system. THC and CBD are only two of many phytocannabinoids that also interact with CB receptors.

Some key quotes from the authors:

The ECS is dysregulated in numerous diseases, including cancer.

A large body of evidence has indicated that the overexpression of CB1R or CB2R [CB receptors] is correlated with reduced survival, increased risk of metastasis and recurrence, and poor prognosis and clinical outcomes

Various in vitro and in vivo experiments have shown that cannabinoids can target almost every hallmark of cancer. They inhibit proliferation, reduce inflammation, stimulate apoptosis, and inhibit tumor invasiveness, angiogenesis, and metastasis.

One of the most important effects of cannabinoids, besides their antitumor ability, is that they are less likely to affect non-transformed normal cells surrounding tumors, and they may even have protective effects.

Studies on animals show the protective effects of cannabinoids against certain types of tumors

There were multiple reports showing the inhibitory effects of cannabinoids on cancer cell migration, invasion, and metastasis


This review also summarizes research on cannabinoids used for these non-cancer conditions:

  • Pain
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Palliative Care (reducing symptoms and improving Quality of Life)
  • Increasing Appetite
  • Anxiety & Sleep


In conclusion, the authors said:

"Cannabis and cannabinoids hold big promise for cancer therapy."

The full text article is here at