Scientists continue to look for effective cures for cancer. And it seems they might have found a new solution for treating leukemia in children. Landon Riddle, a little boy who became the youngest medical cannabis patient in Colorado back in 2013, was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two. After a year of conventional treatment, his mother Sierra took a risk and started to replace some of the harshest prescription drugs with medical cannabis oil.
Likely for little Landon, his cancer went into complete remission; both the mother and the son believe that CBD oil is responsible for such an impressive result. Today, the boy is finally cancer-free, and his miraculous healing forced the scientists to start studying the interaction between CBD and leukemia cells closely.
Leukemia is one of the most dangerous and widespread forms of cancer. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's data, in 2017, over 62,000 people across the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia.
Leukemia affects the bone marrow and forces the body to generate more white blood cells than it needs. As a result, the body is suffering from the lack of the red blood cells which are responsible for the oxygen transportation. In addition to that, the disease also affects the immune system.
The traditional treatment for leukemia includes a series of dangerous and painful manipulations: blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation, and even bone marrow transplantation. In the case of Landon Riddle, the doctors developed a four-year treatment plan that included a few series of chemo and radiation as well as the use of some strong medications like morphine and lorazepam.
Unfortunately, along with fighting the disease, all these treatments bring a lot of severe side effects: pain, nausea, appetite loss, and more. While the conventional treatment is usually the best way to go, sometimes it can prove to be ineffective.
Some doctors and patients believe that cannabis has the power to treat different types of cancer, including leukemia. Others, however, give the cannabis plant some credit only for helping cancer patients to deal with the chemotherapy side effects. And there is a number of studies that show that medical marijuana and some of its compounds indeed has the potential to either treat cancer or at least improve the state of cancer patients.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Oncology in May 2017, THC and CBD work best in tandem with chemotherapy, in particular, when they are used after the chemo. However, the study says that cannabinoids can kill cancer cells even when used alone, although in this case, the treatment is less effective than when combined with chemotherapy.
When Landon's cancer went into full remission, researchers started to study the effects of CBD on leukemia cells. Lab studies showed that CBD targets certain pathways in cancer cells and then kills them.
Of course, there is still not enough evidence to state that medical cannabis is safer and more effective than the conventional cancer treatments. However, the experience of hundreds of cancer survivors shows that medical marijuana may be used if not to combat the disease itself then, at least, to reduce the side effects of strong medications and chemotherapy.