Very low doses of delta 8-THC increase food consumption and alter neurotransmitter levels following weight loss

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Apr;77(4):675-84. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2004.01.015.


We have investigated the effect of 0.001 mg/kg delta(8)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on food consumption, cognitive function, and neurotransmitters in mice. Sabra mice were treated with vehicle, THC, or THC+CB1 antagonist (SR141716A). The mice were fed for 2.5 h a day for 9 or 50 days. In the 9-day schedule, THC-treated mice showed a 16% increase in food intake compared with controls (P<.001). This effect was reversed by the antagonist (P<.01). In the long-term schedule a 22% increase in intake (P<.05) was recorded. During the course of the 9- and 50-day experimental protocol, all mice lost about 20% and 10% of their original weight, respectively, to reach approximately the same weights, which were not significantly different between the different treatment groups. In addition, THC caused an increase in activity (P<.05). Cognitive function showed a tendency to improve (P<.06) in the THC-treated mice, which was reversed by the antagonist for Days 4 and 5 of the maze (P<.01, and P<.05, respectively). Significant decreases in dopamine and serotonin (5-HT) levels were found both in the hypothalamus (P<.01) and the hippocampus (P<.01, P<.05), respectively, while norepinephrine (NE) levels showed tendency to increase in both the hypothalamus and hippocampus. Delta(8)-THC increased food intake significantly more (P<.05) than did delta(9)-THC, while performance and activity were similar. Thus, delta(8)-THC (0.001 mg/kg) caused increased food consumption and tendency to improve cognitive function, without cannabimimetic side effects. Hence, a low dose of THC might be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of weight disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dronabinol / administration & dosage*
  • Dronabinol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Female
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mice
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Rimonabant
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*
  • Weight Loss / physiology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • delta(6)-tetrahydrocannabinol-7-oic acid
  • Dronabinol
  • Rimonabant