Cannabis stimulates appetite and food intake. This property has been exploited to benefit AIDS and cancer patients suffering from wasting disease, by administering the whole plant or its major active ingredient ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Endogenous cannabinoids (“endocannabinoids”) are found in maternal milk. We have recently shown that endocannabinoids are critical for milk ingestion and survival of newborns because blocking CB1 receptors resulted in death from malnutrition.
Lack of appetite resulting in malnutrition is a contributing factor to mortality in many Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients. It is proposed here for the first time, to administer THC to CF patients. It is hoped that the cannabinoid will alleviate malnutrition and thus help prevent wasting in CF patients.
Recent findings suggest that a lipid imbalance (high arachidonic acid/low DHA) is a primary factor in the etiology of CF and that defective CFTR (CF transmembrane conductor regulator) that characterizes the CF condition is responsible for the dysregulation. Endocannabinoids are all fatty acid derivatives. Therefore, it is further proposed here that the CFTR gene product also modulates endocannabinoid synthesis, through regulation of fatty acid biosynthesis. According to this hypothesis, CF patients display decreased levels of endocannabinoids and by elevating these levels, symptoms may improve. Indeed, a number of physiological mechanisms of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids coincide with the pathology of CF. Thus it is suggested that potential benefits from THC treatment, in addition to appetite stimulation, will include antiemetic, bronchodilating, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal and hypo-algesic effects.