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 receptorCB2is 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:

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.   


Cao, C., Li, Y, Liu, H., Bai, G., Mayl, J., Lin, X., Sutherland, K., Nabar, N., and Cai, J. (2014). The potential therapeutic effects of THC on Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 42(3), 973-84. Retrieved from

Bilsland, L.G., Dick, J.R., Pryce, G., Petrosino, S., Di Marzo, V., Baker, D., and Greensmith, L. (2006). Increasing cannabinoid levels by pharmacological and genetic manipulation delay disease progression in SOD1 mice. The FASEB Journal, 20(7), 1003-1005. Retrieved from

Amtmann, D., Weydt, P., Johnson, KL., Jensen, MP. And Carter, GT. (2004). Survey of cannabis use in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, 21(2), 94-104. Retrieved from

Andries, A., Frystyk, J., Flyvbjerg, A. and Stoving, R.K. (2014, January). Dronabinol in severe, enduring anorexia nervosa: a randomized controlled trial. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, (47)1, 18-23. Retrieved from

Cota, D., Marsicano, G., Lutz, B., Vicennati, V., Stalla, G.K., Pasquali, R. and Pagotto, U. (2013, March). Endogenous cannabinoid system as a modulator of food intake. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 27(3), 289-301. Retrieved from

Burston, J.J., Sagar, D.R., Shao, P., Bai, M., King, E., Brailsford, L., Turner, J.M., Hathway, G.J., Bennett, A.J., Walsh, D.A., Kendall, D.A., Lichtman, A., and Chapman, V. (2013, November 25). Cannabinoid CB2 receptors regulate central sensitization and pain responses associated with osteoarthritis of the knee joint. PLoS One, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080440. Retrieved from

Gui, H., Liu, X., Wang, Z.W., He, D.Y., Su, D.F., and Dai, S.M. (2014). Expression of cannabinoid receptor 2 and its inhibitory effects on synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology, doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket447. Retrieved from

Kurz, R. and Blass, K. (2010). Use of dronabinol (delta-9-THC) in autism: A prospective single-case-study with an early infantile autistic child. Cannabinoids, 5(4), 4-6. Retrieved from

Foldy, C., Malenka, RC. and Sudhof, TC. (2013, May 8). Autism-associated neuroligin-3 mutations commonly disrupt tonic endocannabinoid signaling. Neuron, 78(3), 498-509. Retrieved from

Bab, I., Zimmer, A. and Melamed, E. (2009). Cannabinoids and the skeleton: from marijuana to reversal of bone loss. Annals of Medicine. 41(8), 560-7. Retrieved from

Salazar, M., Carracedo, A., Salanueva, Í. J., Hernández-Tiedra, S., Lorente, M., Egia, A., … Velasco, G. (2009). Cannabinoid action induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 119(5), 1359–1372. Retrieved from

Limebeer, C.L., and Parker, L.A. (1999, December 16). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol interferes with the establishment and the expression of conditioned rejection reactions produced by cyclophosphamide: a rat model of nausea. Neuroreport, 10(19), 3769-72. Retrieved from

Jatoi, A., Windschitl, H.E., Loprinzi, C.L., Sloan, J.A., Dakhil, S.R., Mailliard, J.A., Pundaleeka, S., Kardinal, C.G., Fitch, T.R., Krook, J.E., Novotny, P.J. and Christensen, B. (2002). Dronabinol versus megestrol acetate versus combination therapy for cancer-associated anorexia: a North Central Cancer Treatment Group study. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 20(2), 567-73. Retrieved from

Nauck, F., Klaschik,E. (2004, June). Cannabinoids in the treatment of the cachexia-anorexia syndrome in palliative care patients. Schmerz, 18(3), 197-202. Retrieved from

Naftali, T., Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Dotan, I., Lansky, EP., Sklerovsky Benjaminov, F. and Konikoff, FM. (2013, October). Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 11(10), 1276-1280. Retrieved from

Ravikoff Allegretti, J., Courtwright, A., Lucci, M., Korzenik, JR. and Levine, J. (2013, December). Marijuana use patterns among patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases,19(13), 2809-14. Retrieved from

Rajavashisth, T.B., Shaheen, M., Norris, K.C., Pan, D., Sinha, S.K., Oretega, J., Friedman, T.C. (2012). Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III. BMJ Open, 2, e000494. Retrieved from

Zeissler, M.L., Eastwood, J., McCorry, K., Hanemann, C.O., Zajicek, J.P., and Carroll, C. B. (2016). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol protects against MPP+ toxicity in SH-SY5Y cells by restoring proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. Oncotarget, 7(29), 46603–46614. Retrieved from

Lotan, I., Treves, T.A., Roditi, Y., and Djaldetti, R. (2014, March-April). Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: an open-label observational study. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 37(2), 41-4.Retrieved from


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published