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Research

Research finds cannabis compound ‘worsens IOP’

11/02/2019
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A study has produced conflicting results related to the use of cannabis for treating intraocular pressure amongst glaucoma patients.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the drug’s primary psychoactive ingredient, was found to effectively reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) in the short term, particularly amongst males. However, when used in conjunction with medical cannabis’ non-psychoactive component, cannabidiol (CBD), IOP increased on average by almost 20%.

Previous research has found THC has a short-term impact in lowering IOP, but the effects of CBD have been largely unknown.

The Indiana University (IU) study revealed male mice experienced a near 30% decrease in IOP eight hours after exposure to standalone TCH treatment. A 22% reduction was also observed after four hours.

However, the effect was weaker in female mice, which experienced a 17% decrease in IOP after four hours, while no difference was measured after eight hours.

IU researchers also analysed the impact medical cannabis containing both THC and CBD had on mice. They found CBD had a blocking affect on THC, preventing it from lowering IOP, and instead increased it by 18%.

“This difference between males and females – and the fact that CBD seems to worsen eye pressure, the primary risk factor for glaucoma – are both important aspects of this study,” IU’s Dr Alex Straiker said.

“It’s also notable that CBD appears to actively oppose the beneficial effects of THC. This study raises important questions about the relationship between the primary ingredients in cannabis and their effect on the eye".

Previous research has found THC reduced IOP for up to four hours in some patients. However, this is considered a major drawback as glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day, making constant ingestion of THC untenable.

In other findings, Straiker’s team made a breakthrough by discovering two specific neurorepecptors involved in cannabis-related glaucoma therapy.

“There were studies over 45 years ago that found evidence that THC lowers pressure inside the eye, but no one’s ever identified the specific neuroreceptors involved in the process until this study,” Straiker said.

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