Tuesday, March 19, 2013

THC- Tetrahydrocannabinol

In a previous post, Cannabinoids, I briefly talked about the various cannabinoids that are in cannabis.

Now, I will discuss each of these cannabinoids in separate posts, starting with THC.

Some may say that THC is all that matters. 
THC molecule

Not so, especially for medical patients who gain more benefit from a combination of different cannabinoids, or a higher ratio of cannabinoids like cannabidiol and that is not even taking into account the other ingredients in cannabis, like terpenes.

Still, THC is important and has important medical benefits.

There are 2 types of THC- Delta 9 and Delta 8.
THC is lipophilic, which means it dissolves in fats, oils, lipids and non-polar solvents.

It has a high UV-B absorption which may be to protect the plant itself from harmful UV radiation, while the effects of THC may be used by the plant as a way to protect itself from herbivores.

Hebrew University
THC was first isolated in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam, Yechiel Gaoni and other colleagues at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Since then, research and studies have been undertaken and are currently underway to discover all of the medical applications that THC could be used for.

It has been known for some time that THC does relieve pain, can prevent nausea and vomiting, causes relaxation, alters visual, auditory and olfactory senses, reduces aggression and can stimulate appetite.

The claims of brain damage from use of THC are not supported by current research, which actually shows that THC can activate the cannabinoid receptor CB1, which in turn helps neurogenesis.

Neurogenesis is where neurons are created from the neural stem and progenitor cells, causing the brain to be populated with neurons.

These neurons help improve cognition, memory capacity, relieve stress in adults, provide neuroprotection and can help to prevent the neural degradation that occurs with neurodegenerative diseases like MS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

This research has found a correlation between cannabis use and increased cognitive function, especially in people who have schizophrenia.

For patients with MS, THC can also relieve their neuropathic pain and muscle spasticity.

Many people with cancer or AIDS use THC to increase their appetite and decrease nausea, besides reducing their pain and recent studies are showing that THC can reduce the size of tumors.

Alzheimer's could one day be prevented with THC. Evidence is suggesting that THC could prevent inflammation caused by microgliacells and inhibits amyloid plaque, which are important factors with Alzheimer's.
THC is found to be more effective at this than Donapezil or Tacrinetuo, two of the leading Alzheimer's drugs.

For people with Tourette's Syndrome, THC could help significantly reduce the nervous tics and urges that are common with this disease.
Patients with glaucoma can use THC to reduce the pressure on their eyes.
Other studies are showing that it could reduce the progression of atherosclerosis, a condition where the artery wall thickens with an accumulation of fats such as cholesterol and triglyceride.

Other claims of THC causing psychosis are incorrect as well. THC may accelerate symptoms in people who are already predisposed to psychosis, but it does not cause psychosis in healthy people.

Clinical trials were begun in August of 2009, to see what effect THC would have on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, by the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Dr. Mechoulam, one of the first to isolate THC, is participating in these studies and in studies with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

So far the studies into THC treatment for PTSD are showing that it can provide symptom relief by activating the cannabinoid receptors. This symptom relief comes from memory extinction, which is the process of removing the tie between stimuli(such as loud noises or stress itself) and the actual experience which has created such trauma to the person.

It is felt that with more research and studies, this activation of cannabinoid receptors by THC, other cannabinoids or by another means, can be used to cure PTSD, not just treat the symptoms. There is also hope that other anxiety or depression disorders could be cured this way as well.

I will post again soon about Cannabidiol, another cannabinoid that is found in cannabis, which also has many medical applications.

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