Stories about marijuana being used medicinally are ubiquitous these days. News about hemp is less prevalent. Two graduate students from Sullivan University School of Pharmacy hope to change that. Sara Biela and Chase Turner studied the possible therapeutic potential of hemp to attack ovarian cancer. They will be presenting the findings from a new study at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
There were two studies conducted. Both utilized a hemp-based extract. Hemp is the biological cousin to what is commonly referred to as marijuana. The important distinction is in the concentration of THC, the intoxicating compound responsible getting people high. Hemp, by definition, has only 0.3 percent of THC or lower, keeping any psychoactive activity too low to be noticed. While low in THC, hemp can be rich in CBD, cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive compound also linked to many health benefits.
In the first study, the extract was added in different amounts to ovarian cancer cells in a lab culture. The outcome was very apparent. The extract caused significant slow down of the growth of the cancer cells.
In a second study, the researchers studied the extract’s ability to protect against ovarian cancer. When it was introduced to ovarian cultured cancer cells it helped to slow the secretion of a substance known as interleukin IL-1 beta, which produces inflammation in association with the spread of cancer.
This is not the first time that CBD and other compounds found in both hemp and cannabis have been linked to tumor reduction. This effect has been explored by scientists around the world including California, Ohio, India and Israel to name just a few.
The active ingredient used in these studies is KY-hemp, a Kentucky produced hemp extract that creators claim is special because of strain variety, cultivation and extraction techniques. The fact that it is one particular hemp strain and extract is likely of less importance than those who produce it would have you think.
Charlotte’s Web strain gained national prominence about five years ago. It was marketed by growers in Colorado who had helped a little girl named Charlotte Figi reduce her seizures from Dravet’s Syndrome from over 300 a week to less than a dozen. The strain was most likely special not because of brilliant growers but because of its high CBD content. Other strains with similar THC to CBD ratios have shown similar outcomes.
Has Kentucky found the one hemp strain extract that can produce these anti-ovarian cancer outcomes? Probably not, but it has identified one with a profile that others will want to seek out and do more research on.
Related Story: Harnessing The Body’s Endocannabinoid System To Fight Cancer
While we must be careful to not let a marketing message interfere with science, the published results of these two studies don’t mince words: hemp helped inhibit the growth of these particular cancer cells. Though it may take years for research to be completed on large sample sizes of human subjects, there is hope. And while the world of science figures this out, this news is likely to urge more cancer patients to seek to know more about both hemp and cannabis and speak to their doctors about it. That is progress.