By now, it is a well-known fact that THC has a medicinal value. What may surprise some readers is that, in certain cases, it may even be rendered more effective than its closest and most famous “relative”, CBD, when treating some disease symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting. At least this is what is contended by the study titled “The Effectiveness of Common Cannabis Products for Treatment of Nausea”, a recent research conducted by a team of researchers at the University of New Mexico and published in April 2021 in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.
The study, funded by private investors through the Medical Cannabis Research Fund at the University of New Mexico, uses data collected by the Releaf app from 886 anonymous cannabis users, between June 2016 and July 2019, who completed over 2,000 sessions of cannabis self-administration intended to treat nausea problems. The analysis of the results showed that cannabis provides relief within a relative short duration of time, while the effects and efficacy is determined by the different characteristics of cannabis product consumed: flowers and concentrates seem to be more effective if compared to pipes or vaporizers; also, products with a high THC and low CBD ratio were associated with greater symptom relief and faster effect, within five minutes.
“Perhaps our most surprising result was that THC, typically associated with recreational use, seemed to improve treatment among consumers of cannabis flowers, while our CBD, more commonly associated with medical use, actually seemed to be associated with less symptom relief,”explained Jacob Vigil, Associate Professor of Health Psychology at the University of New Mexico and co-author of this research study.
More specifically, according to the abstract of the above-mentioned study, 96.4% of the 886 cannabis users with nausea problems claimed to have experienced improvement by one hour after consumption. The relief was already significant only five minutes later and increased with time. Better results were obtained using cannabis flowers and concentrates and also with products derived from Cannabis sativa or hybrid compared to those derived from Cannabis indica. In addition, joints are associated with greater symptom relief than pipes or vaporizers, as well as in sessions using flowers with a higher concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a lower concentration of Cannabidiol (CBD), patients showed relief over a shorter period of time.
“The mechanisms behind cannabis’ ability to rapidly reduce feelings of nausea are not fully clear, but like involve the plant's ability to activate CB1 receptor responses to other stimuli in the central nervous system, such as the insular cortex, which is involved in interoception, conscious awareness of internal bodily states, and an example of a brain region that is naturally modulated in part by endocannabinoids that naturally develop in the human body,” explains Vigil on the University of New Mexico news website.
"Therefore, it is unsurprising that phytocannabinoids that develop in the Cannabis plant are also effective in stimulating similar brain regions," says Vigil.
"Our results show that cannabis is used to treat nausea with a high rate of effectiveness," explained Sarah See Stuth, who co-led this study, to Forbes magazine. Cannabinoids were already identified as agents to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, an efficacy already recognized by prestigious institutions such as the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine (NASEM).