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Is THC medicinal? It’s not uncommon to hear talk of the many medical benefits of nonpsychoactive cannabis. But, what about THC? THC is the cannabis compound that causes a high. While the psychoactive effects of the herb may be offputting to some, there are several ailments that THC can help. Here are seven proven medical uses of psychoactive THC.

1. Asthma

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Smoking is not considered healthy for your lungs. But, some interesting human studies from the 1970s discovered that both smoked and edible cannabis worked as a prompt bronchodilator during asthma attacks.

One small human study found that in asthma brought on by physical activity, inhaled cannabis “caused an immediate reversal of exercise-induced asthma and hyperinflation”.

The researchers also treated some patients with a drug (methacholine) that triggered spasms and contractions. Cannabis treatment provided prompt relief from bronchospasms and hyperinflation.

Now, a medical research company, Cannabis Sciences Inc., is conducting a human trial of cannabis-based medicines for asthma and COPD.

Though many conditions treated with cannabis seem too good to be true, the research on cannabis for asthma is pretty darn promising.

2. PTSD

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Patients with post-traumatic stress have few effective treatment options to choose from. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and mood stabilizers are among the top choices for those with the condition.

Unfortunately, all of these drugs come with their fair share of side effects.

It’s not uncommon for PTSD patients to turn to cannabis for relief. Now, recent research offers some explanation for why that might be the case.

Pre-clinical evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system helps people delete negative memories. THC, the primary psychoactive in cannabis, directly engages the endocannabinoid system and impacts memory.

This may be beneficial for those haunted by the traumatic memories and nightmares associated with PTSD.

In a small human trial, 10 patients were treated with 5 mg of THC administered twice daily.

Three of the patients experienced adverse effects, but none were so severe that they discontinued the study. The results found that,

The intervention caused a statistically significant improvement in global symptom severity, sleep quality, frequency of nightmares, and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms.

Though the study is small and unblinded, these results suggest that even small doses of THC can have a big impact on the quality of life of PTSD patients.

For more information on cannabis and PTSD, read the article here.

3. Sleep aid

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The 1970s was a good era for cannabis research. One 1973 human study found that THC caused healthy insomniacs to fall asleep faster and wake up less during the first half of the night.

The downside? Many participants reported a “hangover” effect, the feeling of being high the next day.

They also reported an altered sense of time and changes in mood. Both of these side effects increased as the dosage went up. Basically, it seems like the psychoactive effects of the plant may be an unwanted side effect for some people.

2008 research has found that cannabis extends the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. Deep sleep is when the body repairs itself and releases growth hormone.

The same study also found that cannabis facilities falling asleep.  For best sleep results, opt for a heavy indica cannabis strain. Indicas provide a sleepy, sedative experience.

Some helpful strains include:

4. Nausea and vomiting

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A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials found that cannabis medicines have therapeutic potential in controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

The analysis looked at studies that tested the effect of various synthetic cannabis drugs against placebo and other anti-nausea medications. 

Cannabinoid medicines overall offered significantly better nausea relief than placebo and other anti-emetic drugs.

Researchers also analyzed studies that looked at the patients’ preference for nausea management. Cannabis-based therapies were more likely to be the treatment of choice for cancer patients.

In fact, the number needed to treat (NNT) for cannabis medicines was a mere 1.8. That means that 2 people need to be treated with cannabis drugs for every one person helped by the substance.

The number needed to treat is much higher in other common drugs, such as 10 for some chemotherapy treatments.

Today, there are a few cannabis-based anti-nausea drugs available to patients. Nabilone and dronabinol are two choices currently on the market for cancer patients and those with HIV and AIDS.

5. Pain management

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Pain is one of the most common reasons patients seek out a medical cannabis authorization. Not only does the herb promote a positive sense of wellbeing, but it can stop nerve pain and inflammation in their tracks.

A 2013 randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study found that low-dose vaporized cannabis can drastically help nerve related (neuropathic) pain.

Neuropathic pain can be a side effect of various medical conditions, such as diabetes. It can also occur and linger months after a surgery.

For neuropathic pain, the number needed to treat versus placebo was 3.2 for low-dose cannabis and 2.9 for medium-dosed cannabis. A low dose included cannabis with a mere 1.92% THC. Medium-dose cannabis contained 3.53% THC.

Even in very low doses, this study suggests that vaporized cannabis can effectively treat pain.

For more information on cannabis and pain, check out the article here.

6. Appetite stimulation

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Most cannabis enthusiasts are familiar with the munchies. It’s true, THC makes you hungry. As it turns out, the compound triggers the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, stimulating appetite.

The herb also triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that allows you to feel pleasure and reward. So, cannabis not only makes you hungry, but it makes food more pleasurable to eat.

Already, the synthetic THC drug dronabinol successfully treats anorexia in HIV/AIDS patients. Dronabinol is a man-made drug modeled after THC, as the plant product is still illegal in countries around the world.

However, the success of this drug is a good indication that other cannabis-based alternatives may help ease stomach pain and encourage appetite as well.

For more information on cannabis and eating, check out the article here.

7. Glaucoma

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Glaucoma can very easily lead to blindness of left untreated. Cannabis is a potent vasodilator, relaxing and opening blood vessels around the eye.

This is one reason the herb causes red-eye as one of its primary side effects. However, this same characteristic may be extremely helpful for glaucoma patients.

Research from the 1990s found that psychoactive cannabis relieved symptoms of glaucoma in human patients. In fact, 60 to 65% of those treated with THC experienced a decrease in ocular pressure.

Still, the effects of smoked THC only last for a few hours. This means that relief can be fleeting and temporary.

Though there is no high-quality literature that compares different cannabis consumption methods, the effects of edible cannabis last significantly longer than smoked cannabis.

So, for relief that lasts a little longer, eating a cannabis-infused food may be a good option.

Unfortunately, high-quality human studies on THC and cannabis medicines are still lacking for many conditions.

These seven medicinal uses for THC all include human and laboratory research. In the coming years, patients are likely to see more human research on THC in cancer treatment, autoimmune disease, and neurological disorders.

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