Known as the chemical in marijuana that gets you high, THC is much more than an inebriating compound. While it does contain psychoactive properties and is closely associated with weed, THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is one of over 400 different active substances in marijuana. There are over 60 different cannabinoid molecules within the plant as well making it incredibly diverse.
Understanding the versatile nature and the possibilities of THC turns it from simply being a psychoactive component to one with limitless potential for medications and bettering human life.
How THC Works
In our body, the endocannabinoid system interacts with any phytocannabinoids that come into our system. Cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of our brains that are connected to thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and even how we perceive time. THC is able to attach to these receptors and interact with the brain, activating to affect memory, concentration, coordination, and sensory perception.
The reason THC affects these areas more than other active cannabinoids, like CBD, is due to its specific molecular structure. THC binds to neurotransmitters – the spaces that carry communication between your neurons.
THC actually mimics the natural chemical anandamide’s structure. Anandamide is produced in our brains and helps with communication. THC alters that communication replacing anandamide and attaching itself to the neurons.
Once THC is firmly attached to the neurons, it begins to act as a replacement for anandamide, taking on its role. It stimulates the brain cells to release more dopamine creating a sense of peace and happiness in the body. It can cause a variety of effects including euphoria, alertness, calmness, light-headedness, and other sensory effects in the body.
While THC can create a wonder of side effects that produce positive results for users, it can also result in negative physical side effects. It can cause dizziness, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. It has also been known to slow down motor movements, leave a dry mouth, and can increase your appetite.
When was THC Discovered?
In the 1960s, a Bulgarian-born chemist called Rafael Mechoulam discovered the component THC in the Cannabis sativa plant. Now considered the godfather of cannabinoid research, he undertook serious research into the plant which led to some groundbreaking biochemical cannabis research.
Gifted five kilograms of hash by the Israeli police, Mechoulam was able to successfully separate the THC compound - the first scientist to ever do this. He pioneered the identification of the compound’s chemical structure, the synthesis of THC, and its psychophysiological effects.
Mechoulam was deeply interested in natural and holistic medicine, and hoped his findings could be used to advance marijuana as a treatment and medication, and not just something people did recreationally.
Using THC and its Legality
Used medically as well as recreationally, THC can be consumed for many reasons in a myriad of ways. THC can be found in edibles, oils via tinctures, drops, in medicines, syrups, and even used in topical applications to treat inflammation.
Marinol or Dronabinol is a medication approved by the FDA and used as an appetite stimulant, antiemetic, and sleep apnoea reliever. It contains synthetic THC. While THC isn’t legal everywhere, it can be used in 29 states in America as long as it is for medical purposes. Only 9 states permit recreational use.
THC and CBD: Are They The Same?
Sometimes used interchangeably, THC and CBD are often confused for one another. While they are genetically similar and their chemical makeup is almost the same, THC and CBD act entirely differently from the other.
CBD has no psychoactive properties and can be used to increase energy. THC can give you the feeling of being ‘high’ and induces drowsiness. CBD is also used to treat anxiety and stress.
Growing in popularity, the market is saturated with CBD products and some of them can contain trace amounts of THC. This is around 0.3% to 0.9% and solely depends on how the product is formulated.
Issues with THC
While research is still ongoing, there is still considerable evidence around THC that associates it with causing psychosis in adolescents. This is also linked to increased anxiety, learning impairment, and decreased memory formation.
However, CBD has been found to counter those effects by reducing anxiety, improving learning ability, and working as an antipsychotic. While most of this research has been done on animals, it does offer a promising starting point to its effects in humans. It has also been found to reduce to the side effects of THC when taken together
The Benefits of THC
THC is thought to have an array of positives when released into the body. It can be used to treat pain relief, nausea, it can be used as a muscle relaxant, mood enhancer, and an appetite stimulator.
It has been used to treat disorders like insomnia, asthma, Tourette’s, and PTSD. Again, it has to be noted that CBD-rich strains cut down the effects of possible paranoia, anxiety and memory impairment that sneak in with anything that is rich in THC. This has sparked more studies into the symbiotic benefits of combining the right ratio of THC and CBD together, and using their fusion as a possible treatment method.
How Strong is THC?
While some may think the strength of THC is uniform, it truly depends on the marijuana strain that you have chosen to ingest. Some varieties of marijuana are more potent with THC than others, with some strains having over 20% THC within them.
For THC’s psychoactive properties to be activated, it also has to go through the process of decarboxylation. This is a fancy way of saying heat must be applied to it. When this happens, the carbon groups that prevent the THC molecule from binding with receptors that create the ‘high’ experience from ingesting it.
Learning About THC
THC is a fascinating component of any marijuana strain and clearly there is a lot of research still to be done on its benefits and issues. Regardless of what is thought of it, it is certainly an interesting discussion topic as people delve into alternative therapies for treating conditions, particularly those that are chronic.
Want to learn more about CBD and how it can be used to help you? Get in touch with CBD Farmacy to see how our products can help you. We have an array of topicals, pastes, oils, and capsules to try. Try CBD to see how it can help you.