What is THC?

Written by BlackbirdGo October 12, 2018
The Plant

Today we’re talking about the most famous cannabinoid -- THC.

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of hundreds of chemical compounds secreted by the cannabis plant also known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the naturally-occuring chemical compounds that are secreted by the cannabis plant. Cannabis plants have a high concentration of THC in their reproductive organs, resin glands, and in the flower of the female plant. THC is the largest cannabinoid and is responsible for most of the psychoactive effects that come from cannabis.

How Does it Work?

Like we discussed in a previous article, THC and other cannabinoids are absorbed in our body through our endocannabinoid system -- more specifically they react with our CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain, but there are other CB1 receptors in your eyes, your heart and lungs, your reproductive organs, and the lining of your colon. These sites, spread throughout the nervous system and beyond, are the primary points where weed compounds interact with your body.

CB2 receptors tend to be less distributed throughout the body. They’re most concentrated in and around your body’s immune system.

When THC is carried to these receptors, it mimics a naturally occuring cannabinoid in our body anandamide, also known as the joy molecule. THC and anandamide share a similar molecular structure, an important feature of THC to react with our CB1 and CB2 receptors.

The CB1 and CB2 receptors then send out messages to the brain to release more dopamine and stimulating your brain causing a feeling of euphoria.

Other effects of THC may include:

  • altered senses of sight, sound, and even sense of time.
  • Changes in mood
  • Impaired movement and cognitive function

Despite the fact that these are the listed effects of THC according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the reality is that we simply don’t know enough about the plant to say any of these things with certainty because of the lack of research on cannabis and THC.

Potential Risks of THC

  • According to the NIDA, long-term consumption of THC can cause minor hallucinations and worsening symptoms in users with schizophrenia; a severe mental disorder associated with hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking.
  • Consumption of THC can cause impaired motor functions which makes it dangerous to operate heavy machinery and vehicles.
  • There is simply not enough research on cannabis to understand the effects that THC may have on a pregnancy.
  • While there have been no reported cases of overdoses, over-indulgence in THC can cause intense anxiety -- if you ever feel like you may have consumed too much, try some of these methods to help you calm down.

If it’s your first time using THC products, it’s important to start with a low dose and slowly build until you’re at your desired level of intoxication.

THC and the “Entourage Effect”

Studies suggest that aromatic terpenes and psychoactive cannabinoids may work together in a synergistic pairing called the entourage effect. We already know that aromatherapy involving terpenes from essential oils can help calm the symptoms of anxiety. Pairing terpenes with cannabinoids like THC is believed to increase the therapeutic value of both compounds.

We should think of THC as the psychoactive base ingredient that stimulates brain receptors, paving the way for other cannabinoids and terpenes. It is necessary in the chemical reactions that happen in our brain and for the total but it may not be the cure all that it has been lauded to be -- rather a part of a larger whole.