Sunday, September 20, 2015

Study: THC/Marijuana May Protect Against Heart Attacks

THC/Marijuana could offer protection against heart attacks, according to a recent study conducted on mice.

The findings, published in the June edition of Biochemical Pharmacology, showed that a single dose of THC was able to reduce both the severity of a heart attack as well as the cardiovascular damage from suffering one.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the primary constituents of the cannabis plant and is known to act on both types of cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2. Both receptor types have been identified in the heart. 

To test its protective effects, researchers administered a 0.002 mg/kg dose of THC – approximately 1,000 to 10,000 times lower than the THC content of an average marijuana joint. The authors noted that, at such trace levels, THC does not induce psychoactive effects.

While a number of previous studies have already linked various cannabinoids – including CBD (cannabidiol) – with cardiovascular protection, the new study was able to identify a much wider window of therapeutic opportunity.

Protective effects were observed when THC was given either 2 hours or 48 hours before a heart attack, which led the authors to believe that THC could activate “long lasting protective mechanisms” in the heart.

Furthermore, the study showed a lack of desensitization from repetitive THC intake, as continuous THC treatment over a 3-week period seemed to offer the same level of benefit. In light of this, the researchers suggested that THC “may even prove beneficial as a chronic treatment for individuals who are at high risk of myocardial infarction [heart attack] or other cardiac diseases.”

The research was led by Prof. Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine, who has also investigated the ability of THC to protect against brain damage. 

In a previous study, Sarne’s team found that low doses of THC could protect mice from long-term brain damage stemming from a number of sources, including epileptic seizures and a lack of oxygen.

Prof. Sarne plans to conduct further investigations on the cardioprotective effects of THC.

The study was conducted at the Rabin Medical Center’s Cardiac Research Laboratory (Israel) and supported by a Mauerberger Fellowship and The Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases and Shmuel Shalit Fund Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

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