Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short is a crystalline compound that is the main active ingredient of cannabis. It was first isolated in 1964 by a scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
THC is what is known as a cannabinoid. These are chemical compounds found in cannabis that interact with receptors in the brain and body. There are many cannabinoids in cannabis, but THC is the most widely known. It is the psychoactive compound in cannabis and is what gets you high.
Humans (and many other animals) have receptor systems that THC binds to. This system is called the endocannabinoid system. THC works by binding to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.
THC is almost structurally identical to a natural chemical in our brains called anandamide, which is the human body’s natural occurring cannabinoid. Because THC structurally mimics an anandamide, it can affect regions of the brain associate with things like behavior and mood, memory, thinking, coordination, concentration, movements, and time perception.
THC also floods the brain with dopamine, which can make some users feel relaxed and euphoric. However, it affects everyone differently, while some users may experience feeling calm, it may increase anxiety levels for others. The reasoning is because everyone’s body chemistry is different. As well, different strains will contain varying amounts of THC, and will therefore affect the user differently. While one strain may have an unpleasant outcome, there many be another strain that could affect the user in a positive way.
THC is non-intoxicating unless it undergoes a process called decarboxylation, this occurs when you heat cannabis.
THC can be ingested or used in many ways. Some ways include: smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, creams and topicals (for ant-inflammation of joints and muscles.)
Important Note: Ingesting too much THC can lead to many adverse effects and an unpleasant experience. It is recommended to go low and slow when starting to ingest THC. Remember that a cannabis high will eventually wear off.
Medicinal Benefits of THC
Here are a few conditions that THC may help treat:
- Chronic Pain
- Anxiety and Depression
There are many more conditions that people use cannabis to treat. As research continues to progress after legalization, it is the hope that more will be learned about the many medical benefits of cannabis.