What is THC? A comprehensive guide

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the cannabinoid that causes intoxication or high. This chemical is responsible for most of marijuana’s psychoactive properties. THC causes high because it’s similar to the cannabinoids produced by our body. Apart from causing high, THC also possesses many medicinal properties. It can have a huge positive impact on a person’s memory, sense of pleasure, the power to concentrate on a given task, sensory and time perception. THC does that by interacting with receptors present in certain parts of our brain. THC is one of the 500 compounds present in the resin released by the cannabis or a marijuana plant. Other cannabinoids like CBG, CBD, CBN, etc, have distinct properties that affect our body in different ways. 

What is THC?

Its chemical make-up is C21H30O and has a molecular mass of 314.464g/mol. It mimics the naturally produced chemical compound called anandamide in structure. Anandamide or N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) is a fatty acid neurotransmitter derived from the essential omega-6 fatty acid. The word is derived from the Sanskrit word called ‘Ananda,’ which means joy or bliss. THC, coupled with anandamide, affects our memory, movements, and our thinking. Despite the negative publicity it receives for causing ‘high,’ THC has many medicinal properties. Its regulated use can treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, stress, and epilepsy.

What is the use of THC?

It has many medicinal and recreational uses. Apart from its use for getting ‘high,’ it’s may treat dozens of health complications. THC comes in all shapes and sizes — topicals, tinctures, edibles, syrups, gummies, oils, and balms. It’s primarily used for calming effects and reducing anxiety. Muscle spasticity and glaucoma can also be treated with THC. The US food and drug administration has approved a THC-based drug called dronabinol, which is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused due to cancer medicines. The drug has been found useful in increasing appetite among AIDS patients. Research suggests THC can improve memory. If taken under the strict guidance of a medical practitioner, THC can treat many illnesses in all-natural ways. 

What are the risks of consuming THC?

THC is the main chemical compound responsible for the ‘bad’ reputation for marijuana or cannabis. The overdose of THC or, in general marijuana, can be problematic. Mental health advocates have vehemently opposed marijuana legalization, citing negative effects like schizophrenia and motor skills deterioration. Too much marijuana use can impair your driving skills. The consistent overdose of marijuana can damage the lungs. It may decrease IQ and deteriorate the fertility rate. Its early age exposure can also cause learning problems among kids.

Like cannabis, THC is also legal across 29 states of the United States, Canada, and parts of the UK. The passing of the Farm Bill in the US has paved the way for more cannabis research and soon we’ll see more advanced products entering the market. The New York State Health Department, in a report, has said that there are several benefits of the ‘regulated marijuana market’. Marijuana advocates are seeking legalization across the US. Online sale laws concerning THC are also being relaxed, which has given rise to its popularity across the world.

How is THC different from CBD?

These are the two main compounds found in a cannabis plant. They have the same chemical formula but opposite functions. Let’s try to understand the difference between the two like this: CBD and THC are like two close friends, who are equally opposite. CBD is a reliable trustworthy one but THC is notorious, unpredictable, and enigmatic. However, the Cannabis advocates think the current advancements in THC level in new strains has earned a bad reputation for it. In both the US and the UK, the THC composition has increased manifold in a cannabis strain. The reason: the more potent the cannabinoid, the more effective high it’ll cause.

THC: The epilepsy cure

Many countries where THC is legalized for medical and recreational purposes allow cannabis medication to treat patients. According to evidence from studies, THC is quite effective in children suffering from seizures. The US Food and Drug Administration has also approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) oral solution to treat seizures.

What to consider before buying THC products?

You don’t need to select a product based on the highest THC content. By doing this, you are robbing yourself off rich aromas of terpenes, also found in cannabis strains. For the uninformed, terpenes are different oils present in cannabis strains, which produce a so-called ‘entourage effect’ when combined with THC, or for that matter CBD. The entourage effect is the synergy between different chemical compounds or cannabinoids and terpenes, which presents the whole spectrum of products. They have added benefits for users and can enhance the medical benefits. There are over 200 terpenes out there. Most famous among them are myrcene (which gives sweet smell), and limonene (which gives citrus odor). 

The bottom line

The new and emerging field of cannabis could revolutionize the medical industry if its early success is anything to go by. THC, like other cannabis-based compounds, is quite useful in treating illnesses discussed above. This cannabidiol, along with CBD and other full-spectrum products, can be a great alternative against contemporary medicines, which are expensive and have numerous side effects. So what to do to address the issue of bringing cannabis into the mainstream?

Industry watchers say there’s a need to do more cutting-edge research to find the THC’s full-scale health benefits. This will lead to clarity on its usage. It isn’t possible without governments opening up to the idea of exploring the full-scale benefits of cannabis. While the US still lags behind research in the area of cannabis due to restricted federal laws, Canada, Israel, and the UK are the countries that top the chart. The overall industry situation is changing for the better, but there’s a huge space to do more. 

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