About 90% of transplant surgeries are successful. But what happens to the other 10%? These few unfortunates have their bodies attacking the new part. Since transplant surgery was introduced in the 1960s, medicine has been facing the problem of transplant rejection. However, recent studies show that there may be an effective solution—a little THC is able to improve organ transplant success.
Our viscera are uniquely adapted to our bodies. Bacteria, viruses, and toxins all leave their traces in the cell tissue. The marks of these compounds are known as antigens. In case your immune system finds antigens, it prepares for a battle.
There are no two people who are influenced by the same antigens. That is why transplant organs will inevitably bring new antigens to your body. Transplant rejection happens if your body recognizes the new organ as a foreign one and starts to attack it. Although doctors always try to find organs that can be the best match with the antigens already present in the body, there are still a lot of people who cannot withstand the transplant.
THC is the main psychoactive compound of cannabis. THC is an immunosuppressant, thus, one of the main properties of THC is the ability to calm a hyperactive immune system.
A 2013 study found that pretreating graft cells with THC deactivates T-cells, which are the key warriors of the immune system. Scientists from the Temple University School of Medicine tested cannabinoids in the immune cells of mice cultured outside of the body. Then they added THC and discovered that those cells showed significantly decreased immune response. In other words, THC suppressed the immune cells.
The new property of THC adds one more medical benefit of marijuana to the long list. Perhaps, transplant patients will be effectively treated with THC in the near future. Until then, we need to support weed legalization worldwide to make it possible.