1. Brain cancer
Early studies in both rodents and human cell cultures have found that cannabis compounds halt the growth, spread, and migration of glioma cells. Glioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that begins in the brain and spinal cord.
Surprisingly, small human studies have shown signs of success with cannabis treatments. In a phase 2 clinical trial of 21 treatment-resistant glioblastoma patients, researchers treated participants with a pharmaceutical drug containing isolated cannabis extracts.
The drug in question contained both the primary psychoactive in the herb, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a cannabis chemical which does not cause a psychotropic “high”. The patients were also given temozolomide, which is an oral chemotherapy drug.
In the trial, 83 percent of those treated with cannabis had a one-year survival rate. The survival rate was only 53 percent for those given a placebo. Another 2006 pilot study in glioblastoma found that THC delivered directly into the brain seemed marginally successful at prolonging life, though the study was far from conclusive.
2. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
In a 2013 study published in PLoS One, researchers suggest that cannabinoid medicines may be useful in Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The study found that cancer cells associated with the disease were covered in a particular kind of cell receptor that is responsive to THC. That receptor is the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), and it is the primary binding location for the psychoactive.
While this finding is early and researchers have not yet put cannabis to high-quality tests in Hodgkin’s Disease, this research indicates that there is reason to further explore cannabis medicines as potential anti-cancer agents in lymphoma. Additional animal and human research is sorely needed.
Early in 2017, a study conducted at St. George’s University in London discovered that administering cannabis compounds after chemotherapy increased the death of leukemia cells cultured in the laboratory.
The team found that both THC and CBD had anticancer effects, but this potential showed the greatest benefit if the compounds were given after chemotherapy rather than before. Previous preclinical research has discovered that a synthetic THC effectively halts the growth of leukemia cells.