The subject of cannabis has quite an extensive vocabulary and it can be daunting for new consumers to keep everything straight. Sativa, indica, cannabinoids, terpenes … there’s a lot to learn. Here’s everything you need to know about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the main components, or cannabinoids, in marijuana.
What’s a Cannabinoid?
Cannabis is a complex plant. It’s made up of more than 500 components and contains as many as 104 cannabinoids; THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two main cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors found pretty much everywhere in the body including the brain, gut, muscles and even the eyes.
The interaction between cannabis and our ECS receptors can lead to improvements in numerous functions like pain responses and inflammation levels.
This means that people are increasingly favouring marijuana as an alternative form of medical and therapeutic treatment for many diseases and conditions such as:
- Sleep disorders
- Brain injuries
- Chemotherapy side effects
Why Do People Consume THC?
Here are just some of the ways that THC is used in medical treatments:
- As an appetite stimulant for patients with conditions such as anorexia and Alzheimer’s disease
- As an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting solution for HIV/AIDS patients or those going through chemotherapy for cancer treatment
- To limit spasticity associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
- As a mood uplifter for folks who suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- As a treatment for insomnia and other sleep disorders
THC vs. CBD
THC is a psychoactive, while CBD is non-psychoactive. In other words, THC is responsible for causing consumers to feel high. But you don’t feel high when you consume CBD. This is because THC interacts with the ECS receptor CB1, which produces the high, while CBD doesn’t. The reason many cannabis products you see contain CBD and THC—along with other cannabinoids—is down to a phenomenon called the entourage effect. Researchers coined the phrase when they discovered that the various cannabis compounds work better together than they do in isolation.
Does THC Have any Downsides?
Although it does play a role in treating several health conditions and their symptoms, THC can have some negative consequences, according to drug studies conducted on healthy volunteers. Potential downsides include:
- Memory disturbance
- Personality disorders such as schizophrenia
It’s important to note that THC will not influence everyone negatively. Those with susceptible genes, schizotypal personalities and/or a history of psychosis are more likely to develop psychotic symptoms when using THC.
It’s also important to note that many studies conclude that children and young adults should avoid using THC. This is because their brains are still developing, and THC may hinder natural brain development. This could result in impaired learning, slower reaction times and loss of focus.
Then there’s the high that goes along with THC. For some people, the psychoactive effects are just too intense, and it’s not something they want to feel. Others may be so sensitive to THC that even a small amount can leave them feeling disoriented, forgetful and just plain unable to do certain tasks.
That said, it’s possible to consume THC and reap its benefits while avoiding impairment.
How Do I Consume THC the Right Way?
Since THC is mind-altering, it’s important to start slow if you’re new to the cannabinoid. Begin with a small amount in a THC to CBD ratio that you’re comfortable with.
You may want to start with a cannabis oil like the 1:4 THC to CBD cannabis oil from Peace Naturals. It has four parts CBD to just one part THC. And since it’s an oil administered with a dropper, it’s easier to control the dosage relative to smoking or vaping marijuana flower.
And remember, if your THC experiment gets too intense for you, CBD is a THC antidote. It’s been shown to lessen the psychoactive effects of THC, so it’s a good idea to keep a bottle of CBD oil handy. If you feel too high from THC, take some CBD, and distract yourself with a soothing activity like watching a funny T.V. show or taking a walk around the block. You’ll feel better in no time.
There’s more to THC than its famous psychoactive effects. THC can be helpful in easing many health conditions that are painful and that negatively affect people’s quality of life. Remember to pay attention to THC to CBD ratio, dosage and how often you consume. It may be worth keeping a cannabis journal so you can keep track of how certain amounts and consumption methods of THC made you feel. You can then make any necessary adjustments. As always, do your research and source your cannabis from reputable licensed producers.
Photo credit: Jurassic Blueberries