IS THC USEFUL?
Due to psychoactive properties, many people want to devalue the medicinal benefits of THC. This would be a huge disservice, as THC offers benefits and results where other cannabinoids fall short, specifically in the assistance of pain relief, nausea, and vomiting, appetite stimulation, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and sleep deprivation.
THC activates pathways in the central nervous system by binding with the CB1 receptors in the brain, which effects intracellular signal transduction pathways to reduce the influx of calcium ions into the presynaptic neuron. Simply put, THC acts to block pain signals from being sent to the brain. This signal action makes THC highly effective in the reduction of neuropathic pain or nerve-related pain. Although CBD has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory, it does not bind to the CB1 receptors, and therefore does not participate in this pathway. This makes THC the best choice for nerve-related pain. Pain is the number one reason patients use medical marijuana.
Nausea and Vomiting
THC has long been known to be highly effective as an antiemetic. This is the reducing or eliminating of nausea and vomiting. In 1986, the FDA approved a drug called Dronabinol, which is a synthetic form of Delta-9-THC. Nabilone, another synthetic derivative of Delta-9-THC, was first approved in Canada in 1982, and is now available in the United States. Both drugs are approved for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond to conventional antiemetic therapy. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines recommend cannabinoids as breakthrough treatment for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.
THC has been proven to work as an effective appetite stimulant in both healthy and sick individuals. Two THC-based drugs called Marinol and Cesamet are regularly prescribed to boost appetite in patients with cancer and HIV. A number of studies conducted with the drug Marinol suggest that THC can also stimulate weight gain in individuals suffering from anorexia.
THC has the potential to relieve eye pressure in patients with glaucoma. Likewise, after studies in the 1970’s showed that smoking marijuana could reduce symptoms in individuals suffering from glaucoma, scientists tried (and again failed) to develop a way to administer THC through eye drops.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
THC has been proved to impair memory recall. This impaired memory is often therapeutic for those who struggle to forget painful memories, such as patients who suffer from PTSD. Recent studies confirm that oral doses from THC can help relieve a variety of PTSD-related symptoms, including flashbacks, agitation and nightmares. According to research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, administering synthetic cannabinoids to rats after a traumatic event can prevent behavioral and physiological symptoms of PTSD by triggering changes in brain centers associated with the formation and holding of traumatic memories.
Anxiety and Sleep
- Patients often experience mood elevation after exposure to Cannabis, depending on their prior experience. In a case series of inhaled marijuana that examined the analgesic effects of THC, it was reported that patients administered THC had improved mood, improved sense of well-being, and less anxiety.
- Many are aware of the sleep-inducing effect of marijuana, and research shows that THC is largely responsible. In fact, trials conducted in the 1970s found that oral doses of THC helped both healthy individuals and insomniacs fall asleep faster. A small placebo-controlled study of Dronabinol in cancer patients with altered chemosensory perception also noted increased quality of sleep and relaxation in sleep interruptions in those who suffer from a common disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep scientists at the University of Chicago have spent years studying Dronabinol, an FDA-approved pill containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as a particular treatment for sleep apnea.
- In 2013, these scientists showed that the use of cannabis could significantly reduce the occurrence of apneas, or pauses in breathing, in a small group of patients – and without causing other sleep disruptions. Research associate Michael Calik, PhD., explained that the challenge has been finding a drug that can treat sleep apnea without creating new problems.