Outcomes from some of the first studies to inspect hemp’s ability to fight cancer show that it might one day be valuable as plant-based treatment for ovarian cancer. Hemp is part of the same cannabis family as cannabis but doesn’t have any psychoactive properties or cause addiction.

Hemp, like cannabis, contains therapeutically valuable components such as cannabidiol, cannabinol, and tetrahydrocannabinol. However, unlike cannabis, hemp’s therapeutic ability has not been studied in detail.

Two new studies examined the therapeutic potential of an extract known as KY-hemp. The plant strain, growing conditions and processing methods were all enhanced to produce an extract containing substances with potential therapeutic advantage and to eliminate any residue that could contaminate the product.

In one study, the scientists found that adding various doses of KY-hemp extract to cultured ovarian cells led to significant dose-dependent slowing of cell migration. This finding indicated that the extract might be useful for stopping or slowing down metastasis — the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body.

In a second study, the researchers explored the biology of KY-hemp’s protective effects against ovarian cancer, which they had observed in previous studies. Experiments with cultured ovarian cancer cells showed that KY-hemp slowed the secretion of the interleukin IL-1 beta. Interleukins produce swelling that can be damaging and has been linked to cancer development. The hemp-induced slowing of IL-1 β secretion represents a possible biological instrument responsible for KY-hemp’s anti-cancer effects.

The scientists plan to test the extract in mice after they comprehensive additional studies in cultured cancer cells to learn more about how it leads to cancer cell death.