Cannabis and Multiple Myeloma

Cannabis and Multiple Myeloma

Many people who develop Multiple Myeloma find themselves looking for less invasive 'natural' therapies, here we look at what is known about cannabis and multiple myeloma; we have previously looked at parthenolide and turmeric.

Multiple Myeloma is a malignancy (a cancer) of plasma cells. This originates in the bone marrow and the build up of myeloma cancer cells can put pressure on the surrounding bone and destroy it. Healthy plasma cells play an important role in the immune system, for example producing antibodies; however, an increase in myeloma cells can inhibit your body's ability to fight infections.

The microenvironment of the bone marrow, the particular fat involved in a healthy marrow, and healthy stem cells go hand in hand.  As long ago as 2003, Johns Hopkins Medical School showed that a particular type of stem cell became malignant and this was both the origin off MM and a driver of recurrence (1). Given the difficulties by patients when experiencing highly toxic drugs such as thalidomide and stem cell transplants to provide increased survival rather than cure, many patients look for ways of improving their possible outcomes naturally. 

We have told you elsewhere about other natural compounds that can fight Multiple Myeloma such as parthenolide and turmeric. And of the high homocysteine levels in myeloma cells which are decreased by fish oils and B vitamins, and/or turmeric, and/or berberine.

Cannabis and Multiple Myeloma

It has long been suggested that cannabis could play a part in fighting Multiple Myeloma. Certainly pre-clinical laboratory studies show some benefits with MM cells.  In a 2016 study (2),  scientists from Italy studied the effects of THC alone and in combination with CBD in MM cell lines finding that CBD and THC, mainly in combination, were able to reduce cell viability by inducing autophagic-dependent necrosis. In the second part of the study they found that the CBD-THC combination was able to reduce MM cells migration. Of particular interest was its effect on the proteasomes. This is important. 

'Proteasome inhibitor' drugs, such as Velcade (Bortezomib), have been used for more than a decade with MM. They prevent proteasomes from breaking down proteins. Proteins naturally build up as 'waste products' particularly in cancer cells and proteasomes are the garbage disposal experts. The more the proteins build up, the more likely the MM cell is to die! So, cells use proteasomes to prevent that.  

Cannabis acts as a proteasome inhibitor

So, in the second part of the study, the researchers used the THC-CBD mix with a standard proteasome inhibitor drug, bortezomib, and the cannabis and the drug were synergistic, producing a much better result with more myeloma cells dying. The THC-CBD combination was also found to have an effect on myeloma akin to the proteasome inhibitor drug in its own right. This proteins build up in the myeloma cells causing cancer cell death.

A separate 2019 study reviewed other benefits of cannabis in myeloma and other cancer treatment but these studies were more to do with pain management, anti-nausea and other supportive measures (3).

GW Pharma launched a Clinical Trial of 98% pure THC-CBD, with MM in 2016. We are yet to see the results (4)

Go to: Can Cannabis cure cancer?



  1. Origin of Multiple Myeloma Found in Rare Stem Cell; Dec 3 2003 - 
  2. Cannabinoids synergize with carfilzomib, reducing multiple myeloma cells viability and migration; Massimo Nabissi et al;  Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 22; 7(47): 77543–77557.
  3. Opportunities for cannabis in supportive care in cancer; Amber S. Kleckner et al; Ther Adv Med Oncol. 2019; 11: 1758835919866362.Published online 2019 Aug 1. 
  4. Use of cannabinoids in the treatment of multiple myeloma; GW Pharma -


  Approved by the Medical Board.  Click Here



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