THC as a Potential Candidate for Cancer Treatment
Depending on who you ask, the reported benefits of cannabis with regard to cancer treatment will range from providing mere symptomatic alleviation to acting like a complete panacea, but in any case, they cannot be overlooked. The American Cancer Society lists several such benefits. Amongst them are chemotherapy side effect mitigation, pain relief, and even the hindrance and destruction of cancer cells. The National Cancer Institute lists many more.
Now, a group of researchers from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel may have uncovered another piece of the puzzle. They found that positive emotions, echoed by increased levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain’s reward centers can help combat cancer. This was reflected by reduced tumor mass through the sympathetic nervous system. According to the researchers, following 14 days of reward system stimulation in cancer-afflicted mice, a 50% reduction in tumor mass was achieved.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls reward and pleasure centers in the brain. Additionally, dopamine is involved in movement and emotional response regulation. Dopamine enables us also to take action toward the reward. Low Dopamine activity in humans is associated with Parkinson disease and people with low dopamine activity are more likely to develop an addiction.
The Connection Between THC and Dopamine
The relationship between THC and dopamine is actually quite complex, and different studies on different species have so far yielded conflicting evidence. What is certain though, is that at least in the short term, THC does in fact stimulate the brain’s reward system by inducing increased dopaminergic neuron activity.
Unlike most neurotransmitters, the body’s endocannabinoids work in reverse, in the sense that they travel from the postsynaptic neuron to the presynaptic one and not the other way around. This property makes them very useful in regulating brain signals, as it enables feedback. Picture a traffic jam where drivers who get stuck report the situation, alerting others in the vicinity. Consequently, the notified drivers pick an alternative route, and the day is saved.
The way this works with THC is, it binds to cannabinoid receptors, mostly CB-2, all over the brain and body which are otherwise reserved for endocannabinoids, thereby interfering with neural communication. One effect of this process is an increased level of dopaminergic activity in the brain’s reward pathway. This results in an elevated mood, which in turn generates positive thoughts.
Could this be the missing link between cannabis and cancer treatment, or maybe even the holy grail of the medical marijuana industry? Does Rick-Simpson oil – a high THC concentrate commonly used by cancer patients, have a real healing potential? Only time will tell. But for the time being, it certainly opens up the opportunity for additional research in the many areas of the novel and promising field of medical cannabis treatment.
About Cannabis GxP consultancy
Cannabis GXP is proud to stand at the forefront of the Cannabis industry in Israel and worldwide thanks to many years of experience in these areas.
Our team is compelled to spread the message of the importance of cannabis science, regulation and standardization as the world enters a new era of cannabis legislation.
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