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
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 hypoalgesic effects.