Cannabis has long been associated with “the munchies,” an uncontrollable urge to snack or feast on a large assortment of healthy, or more likely, unhealthy food options. But this urge to consume food is far more important to medical cannabis patients, especially those suffering from HIV, AIDS, and cancer.
It has been known that cannabinoids like THC and CBD have an influence on how we as humans consume food, often playing a role in either weight gain or weight loss. Stimulation of CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the body are known to increase cravings for food increasing weight gain, while “antagonism” of these CB receptors can cause weight loss.
While small doses of THC are known to not promote weight gain, extended and more frequent cannabis consumption is known to increase an individual’s daily caloric intake, likely due to more food intake, or snacks, between meals.
Cannabis-induced weight gain in patients with HIV, AIDS, and cancer
For patients with HIV or AIDS, it is of clinical certainty that cannabis consumption via smoking or oral consumption is effective in increasing food intake. In a University of California study, patients consuming cannabis with Dronabinol, and by smoking, saw a weight gain of 3.5 kg and 3.1 kg respectively. Similar results were seen across other studies.
Cancer patients can also experience weight gain with cannabis therapy. Studies going as far back as 1975 have suggested that cannabis could treat nausea and stimulate appetite. Furthermore, other clinical studies have suggested that cannabis use could increase food intake in those who are underweight, but not increase food intake in those who are either of normal weight, or who are overweight. This could be explained by other factors including the frequency of cannabis use, along with other substances at play within the individual user.
Cannabis as an alternative treatment method
Cannabis offers an alternative treatment to other drugs (like Megestrol) that aim to produce weight gain in HIV, AIDS, and cancer patients. While clinically proven to promote weight gain, cannabis isn’t known to produce more weight gain than existing, traditional treatment options.
Sansone R. A., Sansone L. A. Marijuana and body weight. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 2014;11(7-8):50–54.
Cannabis, a plant that has proven to be complex is still under the microscope by researchers, patients, physicians, and society. But one of the most famous and most widely known phrases associated with the plant will always be THC, or more appropriately, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. But many new patients want an introduction on THC basics, learning how it can play a role in a patient’s well-being and healing.
While cannabis has been used for medical, religious, and recreational purposes for over 5,000 years1, THC, as an isolated cannabinoid derived from the plant was first discovered by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Goani in 19642. This cornerstone research discovery by Mechoulam would lead to the discovery of other cannabinoids including CBD, as well as the endocannabinoid system, our body’s way of utilizing the healing potential of cannabis.3
THC is known to be the major psychoactive component of cannabis, in other words, it’s the part of the cannabis plant that gives the euphoric feeling of being “high”.4 As one of the many cannabinoids present within cannabis, THC interacts with our endocannabinoid system to produce a wide range of effects.5 THC activates CB1 receptors within the central nervous system and our endocannabinoid system, giving THC this unique effect with both therapeutic and recreational uses.6
THC basics: perceptions in today’s society
As a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States, THC and its potential as a medicine has been wrapped up in political red tape, along with many stigmas tied to the plant including potential harms and notions of it leading to other more harmful drugs.7
However, cannabis and THC as a medicine has had a resurgence as of late within North America, attributed partly because of reduced stigma, further normalization, and the growing opioid abuse epidemic.8
Learning the THC basics to utilize its many therapeutic benefits
Cannabis and THC has been historically known to be ingested through smoking of the dried herb, however, as patients of medical cannabis, there are many other consumption methods that are more beneficial to one’s health than inhaling smoke, including vaporization, edible products, and even tinctures.
THC is simply one cannabinoid present within cannabis that interacts with many other cannabinoids present within the plant, including aromatic terpenes which all contribute to what is known as the entourage effect. THC as an extract presents its own unique set of therapeutic effects, but when interacting other other cannabinoids and terpenes, it can lead patients down the road of many different avenues of healing.
As for the specific effects of THC, they can both be short and long term, with both therapeutic and adverse effects, dependent on many things including the individual, dose, potency, and delivery method.
The therapeutic effects of THC
• Muscle Relaxant
• Appetite stimulant
• Potential to lower blood pressure
• Pain reliever9
The adverse effects of THC
• Distortion of time
• Memory impairment
• Panic attacks or anxiety
The debate surrounding THC
The debates and voices surrounding cannabis and THC basics as a medicine continues. Proponents of THC are pushing to support medical cannabis in the treatment of many conditions, especially those that have not responded to traditional treatment methods. Cannabis is considered “relatively safe” with few deaths ever reported, can be “self-titratable,” while being relatively inexpensive in comparison to other pharmaceutical agents.11
The voices against cannabis argue that clinical trials to confirm either the harms are benefits are lacking, need FDA approval, and also lack methods standardization and measurement of potency or quality. However, there are companies, like CB2 Insights, who are leading the charge to provide this type of standardized and regulated data in order to transform cannabis into mainstream healthcare.
1. Pertwee RG. Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2009;147(S1). doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406.
2. Gaoni Y, Mechoulam R. Isolation, Structure, and Partial Synthesis of an Active Constituent of Hashish. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 1964;86(8):1646-1647. doi:10.1021/ja01062a046.
3. Gaoni et al.
4. Bridgeman MB, Abazia DT. Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting. Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2017;42(2):180-188.
5. Bridgeman et al.
6. Bridgeman et al.
7. Bridgeman et al.
8. Bridgeman et al.
9. Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x.
10. Russo et al.
11. Russo et al.
Discover the benefits of marijuana therapy
Marijuana therapy remains a new option for many patients, however cannabis has been clinically proven to address multiple conditions, especially when traditional treatment options have failed. Chronic pain particularly can be addressed by medical marijuana, offering a treatment method that is less addictive, with less potential for overdose than traditional treatment with opioids. Cannabis can also address mood disorders like anxiety and depression and is a popular option for patients wishing to medicate with something other than antidepressants.
Canna Care Docs is proud to have helped over 350,000 patients access marijuana therapy programs and continue on the path of health and wellness for those seeking alternative treatment options. We serve new and existing patients across 28 clinics in 12 different jurisdictions.
Leverage marijuana therapy without impairment
Patients will be happy to learn that they can use cannabis as a medicine to medicate without impairment. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an active cannabinoid within the plant that offers the therapeutic values of cannabis without impairment, as it is non-psychoactive. For medical patients, this is a great option for those looking to medicate throughout the day, without the “high” that is associated with the plant, and THC. Patients looking to explore the benefits of medical cannabis are encouraged to contact a Canna Care Docs clinic in their community and have all their questions answered by our knowledgeable staff. Experience the Canna Care Docs difference and learn how marijuana therapy can aid in your condition.