One of the most notorious compounds in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC in short) is a cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana.
That means, THC is responsible for the high that consumers experience. But how does science explain the high feeling? THC activates the nerve cells as well as immune cells responsible for pleasure, memory, thinking, coordination, and time perception. It induces a certain euphoria that interferes with the perception of pain.
THC mimics a natural chemical of the brain – anandamide. Simply put, it alters brain communication. That is, instead of communication happening via neurons, the THC compound attaches to the neurons and changes the process.
But there is more to be said about THC…
The Curative Value of THC
There are in fact numerous health benefits that THC can command upon the body and mind, as shown by numerous scientific studies ever since the molecule was discovered some 50 years ago.
From depression, PTSD, to epilepsy, or even eating disorders (by increasing the appetite), THC has helped patients alleviate not only the symptoms, but also played a key role in their cure.
A 2015 review compiled the results of studies in patients with chronic pain and found that THC increased the likelihood of pain relief by as much as 40%.
Other studies show that THC plays a role in easing the chemotherapy effects by protecting them against nausea and vomiting (in comparison to patients who have only received the standard treatment). There have been results in these groups indicating that THC contributes to sleep issues, by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and reduces the occurrence of sleep disturbances.
There is an overall consensus in the scientific community that more research is needed to deliver fully conclusive results. However, the path is promising, and more studies are underway than ever before with the plant being decriminalised in more and more states.
THC & CBD – a great combination
While they are not the only cannabinoids present in the constellation of compounds of the cannabis plant, THC and CBD are the most discussed and researched by scientists. Each of the two interacts differently with a person’s endocannabinoid system, although they have a similar chemical structure.
THC binds to the main cannabinoid receptors, mimicking the structure of a natural occurring chemical in the brain, anandamide. When CBD enters into the equation, it changes how these receptors react to THC. CBD acts as a counterbalance for THC. For instance, researchers observed that CBD could reduce anxiety sometimes caused by THC.
Moreover, when combined, THC and CBD, show the most promise for pain relief. While there are numerous methods today for separating the compounds of the plant, and products on the market offering one or the other, it’s important to note that it’s the combination of compounds that make for a beneficial result.
THC & potency – debunking a myth
In recent years, the concentration of THC in cannabis products has increased. And usually such products are marketed for a higher price. Naturally, the conclusion normally drawn is that higher THC products are better, more potent. That is in fact simply not true.
According to researchers, once the cannabinoid receptors are filled up, any additional cannabinoids have a limited impact simply because they have nowhere to be processed. The receptors are full. This is much like filling a glass of water – you can’t pour more than the glass can hold.
So the idea that a strain with a higher concentration of THC is more potent and thus better is rooted in marketing, supply and demand, rather than science and facts. Focusing only on the THC concentration does not guarantee a better, more intense high. There are other factors at play influencing the quality of buds.
When thinking about cannabis, there is something called the entourage effect – the idea that the whole is greater than each of its parts taken singularly, and these all work together to create a comprehensive and well-rounded experience.
It’s the synergy between all components that determine the quality of the chosen product, and not one compound can tell the whole story.
There is evidence that THC has healing properties, helping patients of many diseases have an alleviated experience, with eased symptoms.
But there are also benefits of THC for those who consume such products recreationally. Even that sense of euphoria alone can be beneficial to ease the day to day anxieties and stress that we all face even in the absence of a clinical diagnosis.
But at the same time, as good as THC may be, it works best in the company of the other cannabinoids. While it’s good to be mindful of THC and its benefits, there is a larger picture that makes a cannabis product unforgettable.
At FullSesh we take into consideration the full constellation of cannabis – smell, looks, touch, taste – offering the feel of a complex encounter. This is the FullSesh experience!