Of 6 Cannabinoids Studied, Each Demonstrated Anti-Cancer Properties As Effective As Those Seen In THC
While the anti-cancer properties of THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, are becoming well known, research on the other cannabinoids hasn’t been as well developed. Now, new research has shown that the non-psychoactive components of cannabis could also act effectively as anti-cancer agents.
The study, which looked at two forms of cannabidiol (CBD), two kinds of cannabigeral (CBG) and two forms of cannabigevarin (CBGV), was done by a team at St George’s, University of London, reports Science Daily. It was published in the October issue of the scientific journal Anticancer Research under the title “Enhancing the Activity of Cannabidiol and Other Cannabinoids In Vitro Through Modifications to Drug Combinations and Treatment Schedules.”
Laboratory investigations using a number of cannabinoids, alone and in combination with each other, were undertaken to measure their anti-cancer actions in relation to leukemia. CBD, CBG and CBGV are the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant other than THC, according to the researchers.
Of six cannabinoids studied by the team, led by Dr. Wai Liu, each demonstrated anti-cancer properties as effective as those seen in THC. Importantly, they had an increased synergistic effect on cancer cells when combined with each other — which is probably at least part of the explanation for why Marinol, Dronabinol, and other pharmaceutical preparations of pure THC, for example, don’t work as well as herbal cannabis.
“This study is a critical step in unpicking the mysteries of cannabis as a source of medicine,” Dr. Liu said. “The cannabinoids examined have minimal, if any, hallucinogenic side effects, and their properties as anti-cancer agents are promising.
“These agents are able to interfere with the development of cancerous cells, stopping them in their tracks and preventing them from growing,” Dr. Liu said. “In some cases, by using specific dosage patterns, they can destroy cancer cells on their own.
“Used in combination with existing treatment, we could discover some highly effective strategies for tackling cancer,” Dr. Liu said. “Significantly, these compounds are inexpensive to produce and making better use of their unique properties could result in much more cost effective anti-cancer drugs in the future.”
The research team at St George’s is conducting a portfolio of studies into the medicinal properties of cannabis; this latest research is part of that. The next step will be to look at these cannabinoids in combination with existing anti-cancer treatments, and studying treatment schedules to identify ways to maximize their effectiveness.