You have probably heard about the psychoactive compound in cannabis, but what is THC exactly? The most common thing that people know about THC is that it is an element in weed that gets people high. All the same, the compound which is among the more than 400 marijuana compounds is much more complex than just that. With that in mind, what is THC, and how does it work? Whether you are an experienced consumer or just curious, we will tell you all that you need to understand about this natural chemical.
What Is THC?
THC, also known as delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main intoxicant that is found in cannabis plants. This molecule causes the ‘high’ that is often associated with marijuana. The compound is commonly inhaled by vaporizing or inhaling cannabis. All the same, you can ingest THC in drinks and foods, not forgetting that you can apply it topically on your skin.
THC is a natural chemical that belongs to a group of compounds known as cannabinoids. In general, cannabis plants can produce not less than 113 of these chemical compounds. Potent chemicals are very vital in the survival of the plant. These are the chemicals that help fend off viruses, parasites, bacteria, and other natural predators. In a similar manner, the chemicals also help to protect the plant from sun radiation.
In humans, THC produces noticeable and profound changes in your cognition. For that reason, those cannabis plants that give off THC are highly regulated than those plants that don’t. All cannabis plants that have more than 0.3% THC are classified as marijuana, while those with a lower percentage than 0.3 are regarded as hemp. According to this legal federation, only marijuana plants give a substantial amount of THC.
How Does THC Works?
Of all the cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plants, only one of these cannabinoids has intoxicating effects. Why is this the case? The shape describes it all. THC has the correct molecular structure that fits in special landing sites on the cells all over the body called cannabinoid receptors. THC generally works by attaching to the cannabinoid receptors in the body. These receptors are located all over the brain and the nervous system alike. THC will change the chemical activity of the cells and give a series of physiological changes, including the psychoactive ‘high’. These receptors are part of the larger system known as the endocannabinoid system.
THC vs. CBD: What’s The Difference?
You already know that THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. With that in mind, CBD is the second most popular cannabinoid in the same plant. However, unlike THC, this cannabinoid is not psychoactive. In fact, it reduces the intoxicating effects that THC brings along.
You have also learned that THC directly engages with cannabinoid receptors in the body. CBD will not bind to these receptors. As opposed to that, it works its way by inhibiting the FAAH enzyme. This is the enzyme responsible for destroying anandamide in your body. This will therefore increase the natural endocannabinoids in your endocannabinoid system. Since the FAAH enzyme will never destroy them, your endocannabinoids remain more abundant.
Different Ways To Consume THC
In most cases, THC is smoked as marijuana, but there are other ways of using THC. You can consume THC by:
Inhalation- This is the quickest method of delivery that produces the fastest psychoactive effects. You can either smoke or vape, in this case.
Oral Ingestion- You can take THC by your mouth in the form of edibles, oils, capsules, or tinctures. The effects of this method last longer, but they take a long time to kick in.
Topical Application- THC could also be included in lotions, oils, balms, salves, and bath salts and applied on the skin. There are no psychoactive effects in this case, and it is helpful in eliminating pain and inflammation.
Sublingual Consumption- You can also consume THC as sprays, dissolvable strips, or lozenges that are placed under the tongue.
Potential Benefits Of THC
Chronic pain relief is one of the reasons why people are seeking medical marijuana. Even though clinical trials support the use of cannabis in managing chronic pain, researchers have agreed that more studies are needed to validate that information.
Reducing Nausea From Chemo
A study has shown that chemo patients who use THC-containing drugs along with the standard treatment have stronger protection against nausea. This is in comparison with patients who used the standard treatment alone.
Sleep disturbances are common among people with health issues like nausea and MS. Studies have revealed that THC products could improve short-term sleep issues, shorten the time you take to fall asleep, and reduce sleep disturbances.
Reducing Muscles Spasms
According to studies, THC products can reduce muscle spasms, a common symptom among MS and paraplegia patients. Further studies show that when THC is used in combination with extra cannabinoids improves muscle spasms.
Side Effects Of THC
Scientists are in the process of researching the long-term side effects that THC could bring. Here is a summary of the findings so far:
THC Affects The Memory
A study has shown that heavy cannabis smokers have a reduced verbal memory with time. Cannabis lovers lose an average of one word every five years of using THC.
If psychosis runs in your family, you would need to reconsider THC. Research shows that people with the genetic vulnerability for psychosis and schizophrenia could develop early symptom onset after using THC regularly.
Whenever you consume so much THC regularly over a long period of time, your body builds up a tolerance to this compound. This, in turn, makes the herb less effective. As such, you will be needed to consume more of it to get the results. In case his happens to you, you need to take a break.
This is a common negative effect for heavy cannabis smokers. However, the effect does not just come from THC. When you smoke for a long time, you get lung irritation. The symptoms disappear when you stop smoking or choose a different method of consumption.
Short term side effects fir THC include:
- Dry mouth
- Red and dry eyes
- Decreased body temperature
There are so many chemical compounds in cannabis, including THC, which formed the basis of our discussion today. By now, you are aware that THC is the active marijuana ingredient responsible for the ‘high’ feeling. Studies have shown that THC helps relieve chronic pain and other health issues, as stipulated in this article. However, THC is not all that good. For some individuals, it could be addictive. At the same time, consuming large THC doses triggers undesirable side effects. Luckily, some of these side effects are short-term and could be easily managed. For instance, after using THC, the remedy for a dry mouth is normally drinking a lot of water.