This piece first appeared in Cannabis Now.
Over the past few years, more and more studies have emerged that have proven the benefits of cannabis. From helping with overactive bladders, healing bone fractures and reducing seizures, this wonder plant has been making major waves in the medical world and now a new study reveals that THC may delay organ rejection in transplant patients.
A team of researchers from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine used two groups of genetically incompatible mice for their experiment. One group received the cannabis medication and the other group received a placebo after a skin transplant. Those using the placebo rejected the organs almost immediately, while the group using cannabis experienced a notable delayed rejection. The study revealed that THC treatment significantly reduced T cell proliferation and activation in draining lymph nodes of the recipient mice and decreased early stage rejection indicators.
“We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient,” said Mitzi Nagarkatti, co-author of the study. “This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases.”
Of course, transplant patients should not use cannabis as a therapy without the consent of their physician and should only do so in compliance with applicable laws. But, studies like this contribute to the growing research surrounding the efficacy of marijuana that helps elected leaders and the general public to realize the useful and beneficial aspects surrounding medical cannabis.
While this experiment shows great promise to humans, most states will not allow medical cannabis users to receive transplants. In fact, California is just the seventh state to pass a law protecting cannabis users from being removed from organ transplant lists. With the number of people added to these lists is increasing, protecting organ failure after transplantation has never been more important.
Because THC has only been studied in mice, there may be a lengthy wait before doctors accept medical cannabis as a partner medication to more heavily researched and widely prescribed drugs. Over the years, researchers have faced many obstacles just trying to obtain cannabis samples to conduct experiments to show how the plant can help humans. Hopefully, more medical professionals will begin to accept medical cannabis as the potent and flexible medicine that it is and will continue forward with advancements in treatment.
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