Researchers from St. George's University of London have discovered cannabinoids contribute to the death of leukemia cells. The study, which was led by Dr. Wai Liu and published in the International Journal of Oncology, revealed that while the cannabinoids effectively destroyed cancerous tumors alone, they were more effective when administered along with chemotherapy. In fact, even when used with lower doses of chemotherapy, they seemed to produce the same level of effect, suggesting cannabinoids could help patients to reduce the required chemotherapy dosage, and therefore reduce the side effects that accompany it. They also determined that the sequence of administration was instrumental in whether or not the cannabinoid and chemotherapy combination was effective. Cannabinoids administered before chemotherapy reduced the death of cancer cells, while cannabinoids administered after chemotherapy increased the induction of apoptosis.
The team of researchers tested different combinations of cannabinoids on leukemia cells in a laboratory and found that both CBD and THC demonstrated anti-cancer properties. It was determined that CBD and THC worked better as a pair than they did in isolation. Although these cannabinoids were administered in extremely pure and high concentrations, which could not be extracted from the natural, smokable plant, Liu said, “cannabinoids are a very exciting prospect in oncology, and studies such as ours serve to establish the best ways that they should be used to maximize a therapeutic effect." Additionally, Liu explains the importance of his study, saying, "We have shown for the first time that the order in which cannabinoids and chemotherapy are used is crucial in determining the overall effectiveness of this treatment."