What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is one of the main compounds found in the cannabis plant. It’s the part of the plant that causes psychoactivity, commonly called a “high.” Pop culture often turns THC into a punchline, but it serves a valuable purpose in communities of medical marijuana patients. THC is just one of dozens of compounds found in the cannabis plant. It’s ability to provide pain relief and ease mental upset makes the difference for people all over the world.
How THC interacts with the body
The human body has a system of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system. This system regulates all kinds of physical and psychological functions, affecting everything from digestion to inflammation to mood.
THC bonds with these receptors to produce the euphoric “high” feeling that many associate with cannabis use. That’s also how THC works to help soothe pain, calm anxiety, and ease nausea. It essentially modifies the endocannabinoid receptors and changes the messages they send out to the body, creating a variety of physical and mental responses in the process.
How will THC make me feel?
Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so individual reactions to THC will vary from person to person. For most people, THC produces a calm, euphoric feeling. When used recreationally, THC can be a way to relax and unwind and decompress after a trying day. Some people experience it as a “body high,” meaning they feel extreme relaxation in their muscles and joints. Others feel more of a “mind high,” experiencing a blissful, dream-like sensation.
Side effects like dry mouth and hunger (also known as “the munchies”) are common, along with slight drowsiness, excitement, and in some cases increased anxiety and paranoia. It’s difficult to predict exactly how a person will react to THC, which is why it’s important to “start low and go slow” until you are more familiar with how your body will react.
THC as a medicinal treatment
THC, along with the rest of the cannabis plant, can help treat dozens of physical and mental conditions. It’s proven beneficial in managing the symptoms of everything from PTSD to chronic nerve pain to Crohn’s disease. Recent studies have also shown that THC is a neuroprotectant, meaning it protects and even stimulates brain cells, which could have a huge impact on how degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are treated. As marijuana laws evolve and change, more and more research is being conducted to further our understanding about the many medicinal qualities of THC.
The Legalization of THC
People all over the world have used cannabis for its therapeutic purposes for thousands of years. However, the complicated history of the United States has prevented many for experiencing the benefits firsthand. The lack of federal decriminalization and legalization efforts have put the future of cannabis in the hands of the states. Individually, many state legislatures have created their own rules about whether medical marijuana and/or low-THC cannabis can be sold. Only two countries in the world, Uruguay and Canada, have federally legalized the use THC-rich cannabis products, both medicinally and recreationally.
Classified as a Schedule 1 drug, cannabis is largely frowned upon due to the psychoactive role that THC plays in cannabis consumption. In the last 20 years, however, society’s views on cannabis have changed drastically. Legislatures are beginning to explore all of the different ways that THC can benefit the body, especially in combination with CBD.
Erasing the THC stigma
There are a lot of misconceptions about THC. People fear the unknown, and those who fear THC the most tend to know very little about it. Educating people about THC, and marijuana in general, is crucial helping them understand and appreciate the benefits of it. The more studies that are conducted, the more information that is shared, and the more people that are helped, the easier it will be to finally erase the negative perceptions of THC – and start using cannabis to make a positive impact on the lives of people everywhere.