CBD and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment which uses medication to try and kill cancer cells, and to stop them reproducing. These medications can vary, and each one has a different impact on the body. Chemotherapy medication can be taken in the form of oral tablets or directly through a vein as well as directly to the skin or to actual cancer. These treatments are either used to cure cancer, reduce the risk of cancer returning, or to prolong lifespan.

The side effects of chemotherapy are often unpleasant and painful and can affect the quality of life whilst treatment is ongoing. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, and lethargy. For many people on end of life treatment, they often choose not to prolong their life with chemotherapy as the side effects give them very little quality of life.


CBD and Chemotherapy side effects


Pain is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. This can include headaches, muscle spasms and tension aches. This is often a result of nerve damage caused by chemotherapy. The pain strength can vary from person to person and can be either chronic or acute. Chronic pain is a pain that lasts for more than 6 months.

CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, through CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors help to control the body’s functions, including pain. CBD topicals are absorbed through the skin, and work directly with receptors in the skin. CBD topicals could be beneficial for those who want to target a specific area.


There are many reasons why cancer and chemotherapy can affect appetite. This can vary from nausea and vomiting, anxiety and stress, changes to smell or even trouble chewing. Loss of appetite can result in drastic weight loss but should return to normal when chemotherapy is finished. It is important for those going through cancer treatment to try and maintain a balanced diet to ensure that the body has all the nutrients it needs to help the body to fight off the disease.

The endocannabinoid system in the body can regulate the body’s metabolism, which as a result can help to control food intake, appetite and other metabolic functions such as nutrient transport, energy storage and modulating insulin. Improved appetite may help chemotherapy patients have more energy to still try and maintain a good quality of life whilst going through treatment, and also ensuring that the body has energy and nutrients to fight of potential infections.

Depression and Anxiety

Cancer can be a stressful, upsetting experience not only for the sufferer but for the loved ones around them. Many people going through chemotherapy often fall into periods of depression and anxiety. Whilst some people find themselves anxious about treatment, their future and even their appearance following chemotherapy, others may fall into a deep depression. This can be due to sudden loss of independence, fear and even a dramatic change to one’s quality of life.

CBD is thought to affect the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a very important role in mental health. Low levels of serotonin are often associated with anxiety and depression. If levels of serotonin are regulated, this could result in reduced chances of depress and anxiety.

Overall, it is crucial for anybody undergoing chemotherapy or treatment to consult their doctor before taking CBD. CBD can potentially interact with other medications, similarly to the grapefruit test.