Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. In other words, it’s what gets you high.
I know you’re a pro, but do you know what THC actually does? How about the medicinal benefits? Are there even medicinal properties present?
THC is one of many cannabinoids found inside the dried resin glands in the female marijuana plant. (There are more than 60 cannabinoids discovered so far!) You would not think that THC is found as an acid and not a psychoactive we have grown accustomed to.
Don’t go thinking it’s only the female plants that can produce THC, not at all. Male plants may produce THC as well, just not enough to get excited for. Step aside, let the ladies work men. 😉
Let’s go back to school, Chemistry. Organic chemistry will tell you that these cannabinoids act as “secondary metabolites”. Meaning the plants create chemicals that have no impact on the growth or reproduction of the plant. So instead of doing nothing, these guys act as defense for the immune system. They fend off parasites, bacteria, viruses and any other intruders.
These cannabinoids have been known to have the same effect on the internal immune system of humans as well.
In 1964 an Israeli doctor by the name of Raphael Mechoulam isolated the compound Tetrahydrocannabinol. His discovery paved the way marijuana research. (Did we mention how sketchy it was too!? He got his stash off the police! )
Thanks to Raphael, Dr. Allyn Howlett was able to discover in 1988 the binding sites of THC and the brain. Another round of thanks to THC and the shape of its chemical compound. Because of its shape, THC is able to attach itself to “Cannabinoid receptors” These three special sites are made up of hippocampos (responsible for memory), the frontal cortex (where we think) and the cerebellum (responsible for movement). Each act as a cell receptor for the ECS (Endocannibinoid system) a network so to speak. They regulate a variety of bodily functions.
This receptor network sends and receives signals for a much larger, far more complicated chemical reactions. Cannabinoids can be found all throughout the body, but can be found far more frequently in the central nervous system. From our skin to our digestive tract and even in our reproductive organs these cannabinoids are present.
When THC attaches itself to your cannabinoid receptor, an ignition happens. For some, this is an unwelcome, uncomfortable situation. As your body feels different, but for regular users. Daily activities are a breeze when in this state.
Did you know that other effects are triggered, not just cognitive and behavioural?
We all think it’s a joke that THC gives you the munchies. Well it does. And this is incredibly beneficial to some people because eating seems impossible at times. Or that it captures the immune system, suppressing inflammation? Or its sedative side? Calming, allowing you to sleep blissfully.
Still confused? Well we haven’t even gotten to how THC works.
Let’s meet Anandamide. Anandamide is our natural THC.
Once scientists had discovered what THC does in our Endocannibinoid system, it took them another five years to vaguely grasp our natural compound found within us similar to THC; Anandamide. Like a natural white out. Anandamide has a natural chemical that helps us forget. Although this effect lasts a very short time, THC effects can last days. Understanding Anandamide is huge on understanding the effects THC has on us, as well the treatment of psychological disorders such as PTSD with the use of THC.
What about CBD? CBD is the second most well known cannabinoid in Marijuana. But unlike its member THC, CBD does not have that psychoactive effect. Actually, it can decrease the effects of THC. While THC binds itself to cannabinoid receptors, CBD impedes enzyme fatty acid amide hydroxyls (FAAH) who is the culprit for taking out the Anandamide in the body. With the use of CBD’s, FAAH can no longer attack the natural Anandamide in your body. Now your endocannibinoids are free to grow in abundance!
With more and more people becoming accepting and aware of the medicinal benefits of Marijuana, tests are being released that show the physically shrinkage of tumours. Tumours were literally found to auto digest themselves. This is fantastic news for cancer research!
THC has already been placed on pharmacy shelves, such products like Marinol (used to increase appetite and decrease nausea in cancer patients) and Sativex (used for Multiple Sclerosis).
Yes, THC use for treating cancer is admirable. But it has another award winning trick under its sleeve. THC is a potent anti-inflammatory. Neurodegenerative diseases, depression and autoimmune diseases are all triggered thru inflammation. These are just the top three though. The list of diseases that can be treated thru the use of THC is huge. To name a few;
Alzheimer’s Disease, Crones, Glaucoma, Hepatitis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, Sleep Apnea, and Tourette Syndrome.
Effects I think we can all agree on include, but are not limited to;
Laughter, Relaxation, over-all happy mood, good times, and socialising!
Because every strain is different, the effects will differ batch to batch. Effects typically last up to three hours. The following are some side effects from the use of marijuana.
Euphoria, Hunger, Tremors, decreased body temperature, dizziness, uplifting mood, laughter, anxiety/paranoia, poor spatial memory, dry mouth, increased heart rate, pain relief, red/dry eyes, skewed sense of time as well as drowsiness.
If you ingest the cannabis, the effects will take anywhere from 30 minutes-2 hours to hit you. Caution, the effects of ingesting the THC will be stronger than smoking.
Just like there are different strains, everyone will react different to THC. Best to find something that works for your needs!
While scientist are still trying to conclude the long term effects of THC, it’s going to be a forever changing debate. Here are some long term side effects, that may be ruled out in time.
Alterations in memory, bronchitis like symptoms, build up a tolerance, apathy and problems with pre existing psychotic disorders.
Do you know why we burn THC? Decarboxylation. This is the act of applying heat to your cannabis. Don’t go trying to eat some marijuana and think that it’s going to get you high. THC is actually tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. And when it’s in this form, it cannot bind to the cell receptors in the body. So, by applying heat, you are changing tetrahydrocannabinolic into tetrahydrocannabinol. Look at you, you little chemist.
So you’ve toked. But now need to take a test. Some employers will make their employees take a urine sample test. This test looks for THC metabolite (THC-COOH) Now how much of this you have in your system is going to depend on how often you use. A frequent user will need to stop 30-60 days before the sample. A litre user, 3-14 days. It is super important to stay hydrated, water dilutes your urine. Lower the total nano-grams per ml. Too much water though may spoil the sample.