You probably already know that when people vape or consume marijuana, they usually get high. And out of all the chemical compounds found in cannabis, only one cause those psychotic and hallucinating effects. And that is THC.
And while it might seem like just a useless chemical that gets you high, it might actually have some potent medical benefits. And one day, we might even use it to treat cancer and other mental disorders.
But are they safe? What do we know about THC now? Does it have any other side effects other than getting you high?
In this article, we’re going to discuss the origin of THC, its medicinal effects, and if it’s safe to take them or not.
What Is THC?
There are more than 85 different cannabinoids in the cannabis extract of marijuana. And THC is one of those multiple cannabinoids that is specifically found in the resin glands of the flowers of marijuana or cannabis flower. But more accurately, we find THC mainly in the female cannabis flowers. Although the male flowers of cannabis also have this incredibly psychoactive chemical, the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol is quite low when we compare it to the female flowers.
When the flower is in its raw form, the THC normally stays inside the flower in some sort of acid form. The cannabis plant makes these cannabinoids as a chemical that boosts their immune system and protect them from outside dangers like insects.
As a result, these chemicals protect the plants from different parasites, predators, fungus, and other potentially harmful bacterias. In fact, we found that tetrahydrocannabinol has anti-bacterial properties that prevent the bacterias from growing up in both plants and us.
The Science Behind It
There are more than 80 different kinds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant extract but just one of them is responsible for getting us high. And this is THC. This only chemical is the sole reason why people get high when they consume marijuana in some way. It creates a psychoactive effect in our brain which causes us to get high and hallucinate.
But why it affects us like that when it also has the same kinds of atoms just like other cannabinoids? Well, the answer is quite simple. Even though it has the same number of atoms in its molecules, its molecular structure is different. As a result, it binds with a few specific binding sites of our endocannabinoid system or ECS. And this, in turn, triggers those effects.
THC And Its Relationship With Endocannabinoid System
Although we knew about the separate existence of tetrahydrocannabinol right from 1964, it took us 24 years to find out how it works. In 1988, Dr. Allyn Howlett found out that THC binds with some specific cell sites of our brain. And those cell sites exist in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and the cerebellum. Interestingly, those three parts of our brains influence how we feel, think, and move which THC affects them.
Those special sites are a part of a bigger system which is our endocannabinoid system or ECS and the name of the sites are cannabinoid receptors. Our ECS spread across all over our body and has formed special cell networks. In its most basic form, it helps us to keep our body’s balance right. In other words, it helps our body to adapt according to the outward conditions.
How It Affects ECS And What Happens Afterwards?
The receptors of ECS are able to either receive or send different chemical signals that are responsible for different bodily reactions. Most of those receptors dwell near the ECS of our CNS(central nervous system). But they do are all over our body, especially in our intestines, the inner layer of our skin, and in our reproductive system.
When THC interacts with these receptors, it causes them to create a series of chemical reactions in our whole body and brain. As a result of those chemical changes in our brain, we tend to feel and behave in a different way. And while these changes are not that bad, it normally depends on us if they make us feel uncomfortable or not. However, if you consume tetrahydrocannabinol in the right amount for a long time, then you will eventually get a hang of it.
But since it affects the ECS of other body parts too, it also affects our appetite, immune system, hormone secretion, reduces overall inflammation, and much more. In short, it replaces different chemicals from our body, takes their place, and act independently. And it does all of them via integrating with different receptors of our body’s ECS.
How Does It Differ From CBD?
THC is the most psychoactive chemical compound of cannabis and by far superior when compared to CBD. Then why so many people are talking about CBD? What’s so special about it? Well, while it’s true that CBD has most properties of THC, but unlike the previous one, it doesn’t make you high.
In fact, CBD comes with its own antipsychotic effects which can reduce the hallucinations caused by tetrahydrocannabinol. And that’s the very reason why doctors are more interested to study CBD rather than THC.
But why is that? How CBD acts differently and has no psychotic effects?
Well, that’s because CBD has a different molecular arrangement and as a result, it binds differently with the CB receptors of our ECS. CBD works with your body’s FAAH which, in turn, helps us increase our body’s endocannabinoid levels. And since FAAH doesn’t react with those endocannabinoids, it stimulates your CB receptors without any psychotic effects.
Still, we have a lot of research to conduct before we come to a final conclusion. As marijuana is prohibited in most of the countries in the world, there is still a lack of clinical studies on its effect on human bodies. So, we still need to conduct extensive research to fully understand how it really works.
The Medicinal Values Of THC
As more US states are making cannabis legal and more people starting to accept it, scientists got a chance to dig further. As a result, researchers have been publishing more and more research studies about tetrahydrocannabinol.
In a research study from the University of Madrid, they found that THC has a lot of potentials to cure cancer. In that same research, THC made the tumor cells to autodigest themselves and slowly treat the tumor.
Also, many pharma companies have already started to produce THC-infused drugs for multiple different uses. For example, doctors may prescribe Marinol nowadays to reduce nausea in people who suffer from cancer. We have Sativex to deal with Sclerosis. Also, people are using THC to treat multiple neurodegenerative and auto-immune diseases.
Below is a list of different disease of health conditions THC might help us treat:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Different kinds of cancers.
- And more.
The Effects Of THC In Our Body
Well, now it’s evident that unlike CBD, THC will make you high or make you feel or act differently than your normal self. But this works differently for everyone. In this section, we’ll explain the short and long term effects of tetrahydrocannabinol in our body. Let’s start with the short-term effects.
The Short-term Effects
Inhaling or consuming may have multiple effects on you for up to 3 hours after the last consumption. However, these effects don’t last long and will fade away fairly quickly. Here’s a list of the short-term effects of inhaling CBD:
- Relief from pain
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Poor memory
- A wrong sense of time
It’s important to note that these effects will immediately manifest only if you inhale marijuana. However, if you consume the THC directly using it on some kind of edible food item, then it may take up to two hours for its effects to be fully evident. But once they manifest, the intensity of those effects will be much greater than just inhaling the marijuana.
The Long-term Effects
Although we still have to do a lot of research to understand the long-term effects of consuming THC, we do know a few long-term effects of consuming it. Here are some long-term effects of consuming THC:
- Research has shown us that if you continue to consume THC for a long time, then you might suffer from alteration in memory. Your vocabulary may start to be limited as your verbal memory will gradually worsen over time.
- Those who like to consume marijuana through smoking, it might cause them severe lung-related issues. However, if anyone starts vaping cannabis instead of smoking them, these issues will eventually be fed away.
- When someone uses THC or marijuana, their body will start to develop a special kind of tolerance towards it. As a result, to get a similar result, one needs to constantly increase the amount of cannabis intake over time.
- If you take huge amounts of cannabis over a long period of time, you might feel emotionless or totally numb until you get more THC.
- If you have some kind of mental disorder, consuming more cannabis may make everything even worse.
Despite all its side effects, THC has shown great potential as alternative medicine. The researches have only shown us a new way to understand how our body works but has also it revealed a whole new system, ECS, in our body. As a result, we have found many therapeutic uses of it that will make treating mental disorders a lot easier.
However, that doesn’t mean you can go all out and start taking THC right off the bat. Make sure you consult with your doctor or any other cannabis expert. Also, make sure it’s legal in your state to safely access it.
Have you ever used THC? How was your overall experience? Let us know.
Disclaimer: The information above should not be considered a medical recommendation. The content is written to enrich the reader’s knowledge. Any use of materials and content mentioned in this article should be first consulted about by a physician.