cannabis plant 298.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A synthetic form of a psychoactive compound in cannabis that was discovered by a
Hebrew University professor decades ago is being used on Canadian veterans of
the war in Iraq who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The compound
helps veterans forget their experiences and sleep well.
The compound was
found to increase forgetfulness in mice, according to Prof. Raphael Meshoulam,
discoverer in 1964 of trans-delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from
Meshoulam spoke to 500 participants from 37 countries at the
Jerusalem International Conference on Integrative Medicine on
While forgetting “would ordinarily be a bad thing,” he
explained, in victims of PTSD, it enabled traumatized veterans who hadn’t slept
well since being discharged to do so.
Mice bred without natural
cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and a group with a cannabinoid system, were
both exposed to music and given a mild electric shock. In a Pavlovian
experiment, the mice without the cannabinoid receptors soon forgot the link,
while those with the system froze in fear because they had been conditioned to
associate a shock with the music. Those without the receptors forgot their
The Canadian Army Health Services Center used this
discovery to develop synthetic cannabinoid to treat the nightmares of soldiers
with PTSD. Fully 72 percent were able to sleep for the first time in
Mechoulam predicted that cannabis – which has been known for its
beneficial properties for over 4,000 years – and its active ingredients may also
prove effective at treating a number of other conditions, including
insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis – both autoimmune
diseases in which the body’s own immune system regards healthy tissue as a
“stranger” and attacks it. The compound may also be effective in conditions of
inflammation, and reduce osteoporosis by promoting bone development.
medical marijuana is used widely among licensed patients to reduce
“We have collaborations with research centers from Aberdeen
[Scotland] to Siberia [Russia],” noted Mechoulam.
He said he hopes that
the Health Ministry, which supervises the supply of medical marijuana, will
encourage the growing of varieties with the specific cannabinoids that have
these additional medical benefits.A Health Page feature on the Jerusalem
conference will be published on Sunday, October 31.