What Is THC
So, by now you’ve probably heard of THC and its use for both recreational and medicinal purposes. And trying to search more to learn what is THC from science and news point? Let’s discuss it in a more professional way and have further study on the topics. THC is a chemical compound (Lipid) that binds onto cannabinoid receptors in the brain, affecting the release of neurotransmitters and causing various physiological and psychological outcomes.
It is an extract from the cannabis plants which produce up to 104 cannabinoids throughout its life . Of this number, there are only two dominant cannabinoids, the chemical compound of cannabis plants: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Though both compoounds share similar structure chemically, when consumed THC it is psychoactive, unlike CBD, which does not cause a person to get “high.” That’s also the main difference we are talking about.
In full, THC stands for Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in chemical compound name . It is abundant in the reproductive organs of the marijuana plant. There are two breeds of the cannabis plant: Hemp and Marijuana. Of these two, what marijuana produce the most is THC tetrahydrocannabinol. It means that marijuana plants contains higher thc concentrations.The glands of the plant produce it and mostly of thc are harvested from the buds and flowers of a female marijuana plant.
Worth noting, though, is that raw pot usage doesn’t deliver an intense weed high. Natural THC does not just exist on its own in the pot plants; instead, it is locked in an acidic form known as THCA – a carboxylic acid. This way, it is unavailable to bind on your body’s endocannabinoid receptors. To get to THC tetrahydrocannabinol, therefore, the carboxyl group has got to be eliminated. That is what we call decarbonate weed. Decarboxylation can be any of the following processes:
- Natural – The pot plants leave and buds are left on their own for a long time such that the carboxylate group breaks down on its own.
- Baking sheet – The weed is placed in a bowl that’s lined with foil then baked in a pre-heat oven for about 30 minutes
- Oven bag – The weed is placed in an oven bag, rolled in a baking sheet, and baked in an oven for about 30 minutes.
In 1964, Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, carried out the first successful isolation of THC from a Lebanese hashish pot plant. This breakthrough launched the world into a new era of cannabis research. It led to the discovery that when in the body, it behaves just like anandamide. Anandamide is a neuromodulator that affects how we think, feel, move, etc. The conclusion was that anandamide is the human body’s version of THC.
Since then, many methods of isolating it from the weed plants have been conceived. But either way, different methods of weed decarboxylation leads to varying THC potency. Also, although it is just one of the 104 cannabinoids chemical in the cannabis plant, it’s the only one credited with causing cerebral high. How is that possible?
How THC Affects The Brain and Body Leading To A Cerebral High
The first paragraph gives us general idea on what is thc, but how thc affect our body structure and brain?
The human body has an endocannabinoid system of neuromodulators chemical compounds and their cannabinoid receptors type 1(CB1) and cannabinoid receptors type 2 (CB2) . Neuromodulators include THC, CBD, the body’s anandamide ligand, and 2-AG. And the endocannabinoid system regulates activities such as movement, thinking, appetite, perception, etc.
Anandamide is the body’s version of tetrahydrocannabinol thc, regulating movement, memory, cognition, and perception. Neuromodulator binds onto CB1 receptors in the neurons, thereby affecting the releasing of neurotransmitters like dopamine and enzymes such as holoenzymes.
But unlike anandamide, THC is potent; therefore, when it binds onto CB1 receptors, it over activates the release of dopamine and other enzymes leading to psychological and physiological changes such as increased appetite, loss of balance, and euphoria!
For this reason, it has found use in the medical and recreational industries. Though it’s still in the gray zone, legally speaking. Here’s a discussion of THC uses and legality.
When it comes to THC legality, it depends on the country national laws and state’s. Most countries rely on UN ratifications. Under the UN, it has been scheduled as a class II psychotropic substance, albeit less-stringent.
Some western countries have moved to relax the laws surrounding marijuana. Many have moved to decriminalize marijuana such that simple possession reducing it to a non-criminal offense, just like a minor traffic violation. But in some Asian and Arab regions, marijuana possession is still a highly punishable offense.
Countries, where marijuana use for recreational purposes is allowed, include Canada, Uruguay, Georgia, South Africa, Australian Capital, and 11 US states. In countries like the Netherlands and Spain, marijuana is tolerated in legalized establishments.
Countries that have legalized medical marijuana include Argentina, Canada, Germany, Cypress, Greece, Italy, Israel, Norway, Jamaica, etc. while in places like the US, only certain THC-infused medicines such as Marinol, Epidiolex, and Sativex have been approved. Medical cannabis in the US is only legal in 33 states. It’s noted that some just are legal on the federal laws, while illegal under some state laws.
Health Benefits of THC
In countries with relaxed marijuana regulation, THC is considered to use in the following conditions to provide a range of health benefits or medical benefits such as:
- Helping to reduce inflammation and neurodegeneration and pain or nausea is a common treatment. Unlike CBD, that is scarce, THC is abundant in both hemp and marijuana. THC-A, the THC strains, are powerful anti-oxidant that helps alleviate Alzheimer’s, ALS, and multiple sclerosis symptoms.
- Another one of the medical benefits is that it helps with cancer. Research shows that THC helps shrink tumors. And when it comes to harsh chemos, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved THC-derived Antiemetic drugs to hash the chemo effects.
- For patients with PTSD, it reduces short term memory formation and, therefore, can be used to treat the psychological effects of trauma or mental disorders. It can also be used to reduce anxiety and depression by inducing gentle cerebral effects.
- Lastly, Dronabinol is an FDA approved synthetic THC for use as an appetite stimulant treating for AIDS patients. Check with your doctor if comes to specific treatment.
Side Effects of THC
While there are health properties of THC, large doses of THC have some undesirable long-term negative effects on the human body. And though it is virtually impossible to overdose on it since you self-titrate, harmful effects of marijuana include:
- Reduced cognitive ability – THC interferes with the functioning of the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for the formation of new memories. As a result, marijuana usage interferes with learning and the ability to handle complicated tasks.
- Acute psychosis – Large doses of THC have been known to induce delusions of grandeur, loss of self-perception, and hallucination. Such severe psychotic effects kick in 10-30 minutes after its ingestion and can last for about two full hours.
- Increased appetite – Marijuana users are less likely to develop overweight issues.
- Poor movement, coordination, and balance – THC also interfere with the functioning of the cerebellum and basal ganglia. These are brain regions that control balance, reaction time, movement, and coordination. People who use marijuana have been known to drive recklessly and may have problems taking part in physical activities such as sports.
Conventional Methods of Consuming THC
Reduced marijuana stigmatization has allowed people to get innovative on how they consume it. From smoking to THC-infused edibles, lotions and capsules here are a look at how people are getting their it fix:
- Pills or capsules – One of the most popular ways to get your THC fix is to ingest cannabis products such as capsules or tablets. Cannabis capsules are very popular among people with respiratory issues, unlike vaping and smoking. In the streets, they are known as cannacaps. They are loaded with specific cannabis strains and mixed with some MCT oil, sesame oil, or coconut oil to increase absorption.
- The advantage of pills and capsules is they contain known THC doses. Ingestion can also be used to treat more than one illness. The only caveat is the body’s digestive mechanism interferes with THC absorption leading to the pill’s ineffectiveness. Research shows that only 4-12 percent of THC makes its way into your bloodstream if ingested.
- Dabbing – Dabbing is a novel way of taking cannabis. Here you take wax, a select type of cannabis concentration, put in a bong, and heat it to release the ingredients. Dabbing has been known to induce an intense high compared to other marijuana consumption methods because it uses very concentrated forms of marijuana.
- Joints – To smoke a joint, roll the marijuana buds in a specially-designed paper, then light it up and get to puffing. The quality of the joint depends on the type of paper used. You have an option between terpenes-enhanced paper, flavored papers, transparent papers, etc.
- Edibles – You can also get your THC fix from cannabis-infused edibles such as pot brownies, chocolates, and beverages too. You can prepare your cannabis-infused edibles at home or get them from a legalized dispensary if you are not sure about what amount of THC to use.
Compared to other ingestion methods, THC-infused edibles lead to a more intense high. But with edibles, THC effects take time to kick in – usually about 2 hours.
- Smoking – Apart from lighting a joint, you can also smoke marijuana using a hookah, bubbler, or a hand pipe. Though smoking has been associated with respiratory problems, it’s still one of the most popular ways to get THC high that is because it’s a traditional way and treats you to the most real marijuana experience. Studies show a 50-60 percent bioavailability of THC from the smoked pot.
- Vaporizing – The stylish way to toke on THC-rich vapors. The marijuana is heat in a vaporizer to a high enough temperature causing it to vaporize and release the cannabinoids. The flavor-rich vapor is then drawn using a mouthpiece.
Vaping can be done discretely using a vape pen. Studies show that vaping delivers up to 95 percent THC into the bloodstream, and it induces a helluva headrush.
Which Produces More Psychedelic Effects?
According to users, edibles create stringer psychedelic effects compared to smoking or vaping. The reason for this is because ingested THC passes through the liver, where it gets converted to 11-hydroxy-THC. This form of THC sips through the blood-brain barrier faster compared to THC that doesn’t pass through the liver.
THC psychoactive effects have seen its increased popularity in both recreational and medical facilities. Though it is still in the gray zone legally, statistics continue to show widespread use of pot. According to the United Nations, a whopping 3.8 % of the planet rely on marijuana for recreation and health benefits. But like all drugs, it has got desired and undesired effects too, so minimize exposure by finding your minimum effective dose (MED) if you want to maintain good health throughout your lifetime. You had better to get a general knowledge of its every aspects when you started to use it. Also feel free to share what you think if you have any other idea.