- Treat sickness and vomiting, control our nightmares or sleeplessness, act as a natural painkiller…
- We seem to be talking about CBD, but in fact, we’re not: tetrahydrocannabinol has a great therapeutic value, too. Its benefits have been studied for some decades now, and there’s even medicine with synthetic THC.
- You shouldn’t be afraid of its psychoactive effects, though: it’s as good for your health as other cannabinoids, you just have to use it in a responsible way.
CBD is the cannabinoid most people think of when it comes to the therapeutic effects of marijuana. Many sick people are looking for cannabidiol-rich strains or derived products, e. g. oil, in order to seize its full potential. However, we often seem to forget that THC, mainly associated with the marijuana's psychoactive effects, is also very efficient at easing many diseases' symptoms. That's why today we've decided to present you some applications that might stop you from relating this substance to a psychoactive high only.
Sleeplessness and sleep disorder
Researchers have been treating sleep problems with THC since the '70s at least. A study published in 1973 proved that little oral THC doses help both people suffering from sleeplessness and healthy people to sleep. And what's more, sleep hasn't stopped to be at the centre of the THC research: A study by the University of Illinois, in Chicago, concluded in 2013 that THC could improve nocturnal respiration and reduce sleep interruptions in sleep apnoea patients.
Again, back in the '70s, – and though it may seem ironic – scientists demonstrated that cannabis smoke could act as a bronchodilator and help asthmatic patients as long as it doesn't come from a cigarette, which can cause irritation and make the lungs get worse. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, but the efforts to produce an inhaler weren't successful due to the technology of the time. Now that we've entered the 21st century, new generation vaporizers – as small as discreet – might be the solution.
Treatment of pain
Many people take medical marijuana to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms caused by cancer or joints or back problems. Although they mainly use CBD options, THC can help ease pain, too. Some studies have demonstrated that tetrahydrocannabinol alters the central nervous system and blocks the pain signals sent by the brain.
Sickness and vomiting
Cancer patient with chemotherapy can get rid of sickness and vomiting with cannabis. Back in the '80s, the U.S. approved Dronabinol, a generic drug with synthetic THC which was (and is, for it still exists) used to treat such discomfort and which is also known as Marinol in the U.S. By the end of the decade, there was also some research about whether it could help aids patients to gain weight, but the results weren't very significant.
In fact, Dronabinol also proved to be a great help against other diseases and a good substitute that achieves the same effects as smoked marijuana. According to a study published in the journal Neuropsycopharmacology in 2013, this drug acts on pain even longer than cannabis consumed by combustion.
People who get sick when lunch time approaches can also consume strains with high THC-levels. This cannabinoid stimulates our desire to eat, both in sick and healthy people. Many cancer or anorexia patients could therefore find their appetite improved. In the latter case, you can actually see the substance's benefits in their weight gain.
The THC's effects on our body have also been studied in Spain. The Revista Española de Esclerosis Múltiple published a study about how the THC's interaction with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system could be used to treat multiple sclerosis. When the THC joins the receptors, it prevents the destruction of neural connections that would lead to the M.S.' progression to an advanced stage and to the neurones' death. That way, the disease is slowed down. These conclusions were drawn from experiments on animals with ischemia and brain trauma that got better after taking THC.
Furthermore, cannabis helps these people to ease their pain, which, of course, also increases as the disease progresses. In fact, some recommend to take marijuana when it's diagnosed or in its initial phase in order to combat what painkillers might not do later on.
When talking about Multiple sclerosis and THC, it's impossible not to mention Sativex, one of the best-known cannabis medicaments. Although it contains CBD as well, its active substance is tetrahydrocannabinol. It's recommended for muscular spasticity, which causes difficulties of movement, and for sleeping. Once again, there's zero possibility of a loud buzz, so you can combine it with your everyday activities or take it before going to bed without any risk.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder, the potential psychoactive effect produced by THC is even an advantage, as it helps to mitigate very painful memories, one of the typical features of PTSD patients, according to researchers of Langone Medical Center, New York University.
Meanwhile, in 2014, a three-week study conducted by Israeli scientists concluded that oral THC doses could help treat some of this syndrome's symptoms, such as nightmares, haunting memories and nervousness.
Tics, speech difficulties, spasms… are just some symptoms of Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder. In a study published in the journal Pharmacopsychiatry in 2003, German scientists treated 12 adult patients with Delta (9)-THC. Over time, they noticed improvement in both the vocal and the motor tics and in the obsessive-compulsive behaviour. There were no adverse reactions. In 1989, the journal Life Sciences had already stated that CBD, THC and nicotine could supplement antipsychotic medication prescribed for diseases such as Tourette's.
Tourette syndrome is chronic, but not degenerative. Although there's no cure, THC can help to reduce its symptoms and to improve the patients' quality of life. However, the tests showing its efficiency are still limited (remember that the German study involved 12 people only). Even the German Academy of Sciences declared there were still few studies some months ago. Therefore, research has to be continued.
Research published in 2014 in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease concluded THC could reduce the levels of a protein that makes the disease progress. Still, this had only been tested on mice and rats. Last year, a study of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California showed that THC helped to eliminate toxic plaques of the brain and to block the inflammation that kills the neurons. But, once again, more tests with humans are necessary.
Finally, according to a study published in 2013 in Biochem Pharmacol, very low doses of THC help protect the heart. The cannabinoid actually activates the heart's CB1 and CB2 receptors, thereby reducing ischaemic myocardial damage, in other words, the damage caused when the heart muscle isn't supplied with enough blood and oxygen.
Either at an experimental stage or with proven results depending on the area, there's no doubt THC has got lots to offer in therapeutic areas. Scientists have been aware of it for some decades already and keep demonstrating its potential. Now we just have to overcome our fear of its psychoactive effects and appreciate it as much as CBD, because only the combination of both cannabinoids and the rest of the plant's components will allow us to make the most of it.