Is THC Actually Therapeutic?
What is THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), otherwise known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Like the cannabis plant, THC gained a bad rap before the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the preventative and therapeutic benefits of phytocannabinoids could be discovered and understood.
The first endocannabinoid (anandamide), a naturally occurring cannabinoid in humans, was only discovered as recently as 1992, after which the ECS was discovered. Most people will not have heard of the endocannabinoid system and its importance in regulating the body’s internal environment. This is not surprising considering its discovery and scientific explanation came long after the prohibition of marijuana and the implementation of reefer madness propaganda.
The cannabis plant is rich in phytocannabinoids (plant-derived cannabinoids), of which THC is the most plentiful and offers a wealth of therapeutic benefits. It has a high affinity for and activates both CB receptors of the endocannabinoid system. The psychoactive effect of THC is promoted by its CB1 receptor. The other receptor—CB2—is present in the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system. These receptors stimulate therapeutic benefits when activated.
Therapeutic Effects of THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol has a wide range of therapeutic uses. Studies have shown that THC has positive effects on symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, sleep, loss of appetite, and pain. It is also proven to have positive impacts on a number of health conditions and disorders.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Research has shown that THC effectively reduces the concentration of amyloid-beta peptide. This peptide is the major contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s. It also enhances the functioning of the mitochondria, indicating that it could be an effective therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Studies carried out on animals have demonstrated that THC can delay the progression of ALS. It can also lengthen the lifespan of neurons and inhibit the progression of the disease. Additionally, the compound helps reduce the loss of appetite, depression, pain, and other symptoms linked to the disease.
- Anorexia: With THC, anorexia could be a thing of the past. The compound stimulates hunger and maximizes the pleasure derived from eating. Studies have shown that THC also helps in weight gain compared to a placebo.
- Arthritis: The anti-inflammatory effects of THC are effective in combating joint inflammation. THC also helps in the management of pain from joint diseases.
- Lupus: This is an autoimmune disease characterized by symptoms such as kidney dysfunction, pain, hair loss, and skin lesions. It is believed that THC can help with the condition. Research into the use of THC for the treatment of lupus is supported by The Lupus Foundation of America. Research has shown that THC can reduce over-activity in the immune system caused by Lupus. This may relieve inflammation of the joints and the pain associated with this disease.
- Autism: The characteristics of an autistic child include lethargy, hyperactivity, irritability, inappropriate speech, and stereotypy. THC causes a significant improvement in these symptoms. As a CB2 agonist, THC may help in the restoration of communication between nerves and proper functioning of the cell.
- Improvement in bone health is another function of THC. CB2 receptor activation stimulates the formation of bones and prevents their breakdown.
- Cancer: THC is imbued with anti-cancer properties. It also helps to reduce the size of tumors. Additionally, nausea caused by chemotherapy can be reduced by THC. Patients suffering from cachexia can regain their appetite and take their treatments more comfortably with the aid of THC.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: The anti-inflammatory properties of THC help to combat Crohns’ Disease effectively. Research shows that individuals have attained remission with the aid of THC. In addition, THC helps to minimize stomach/abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea associated with IBS.
- Diabetes: THC helps improve glucose tolerance and also decreases insulin insensitivity in obese mice, the implication being that it reduces the risk of diabetes. In studies involving humans, the use of cannabis has been linked to a reduction in diabetes cases.
- Parkinson’s disease: THC helps in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease by preventing free radical-induced damage and enhancement of mitochondria formation. Studies by Lotan et al. (2014) have shown that intake of cannabis by Parkinson’s patients significantly improves tremors, rigidity, pain, and sleep, plus motor impairments.
Other health conditions that benefit from the therapeutic effects of THC include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sickle cell anemia
- Spinal cord disease
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
It is obvious that THC has an important role to play for the relief and therapeutic benefit of patients suffering from the above diseases and conditions. With more research and education for the public and healthcare professionals, THC and other cannabinoids could be the most expedient, safe, natural therapy for the millions of patients who suffer from devastating diseases.
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