Most people know that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical in marijuana that causes a neuroleptic high. But what else is there to know about the main psychoactive component of cannabis?
Whether this question is new to the world of cannabis or you want to learn more about the most famous cannabinoids, THC has probably become synonymous with cannabis in your mind as long as you know about it.
Let’s take a deeper look at what THC is and how it works.
THC is a cannabinoid, but what is a cannabinoid?
The first step in understanding THC is to understand cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with receptors in the brain and body to produce a variety of effects.
Dozens and possibly over a hundred cannabinoids are present in the cannabis plant, but they are best known among them due to the high content and euphoric properties of THC.
The isolation of THC came from an Israeli chemist named Raphael Mechoulam, who isolated and synthesized THC from Lebanese cannabis in 1964, marking the beginning of cannabis research that would lead to the discovery of many other cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body, and “endogenous cannabinoids ” The body’s naturally occurring tetrahydrocannabinol-like compounds remain stable and healthy.
Why does cannabis produce cannabinoids? Cannabinoids are known as secondary metabolites, which means that they are chemicals produced by the plant and do not have a primary role in the development of the plant.
However, the main hypothesis is that secondary metabolites act as the plant’s immune system against natural enemies, parasites, and pests.
Since humans (and many other animals) have the receptor system to which THC is bound, we can also derive beneficial health and recreational benefits from cannabinoids.
This system, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), is a specialized set of signaling chemicals (think “key”), their receptors (think “lock”), and the metabolic enzymes that produce and break them down.
These endogenous cannabinoid chemical signals act on some of the same brain and immune cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) that the phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act on.
How Does THC Affect People?
In short, THC produces intoxicating effects by binding to cannabinoid receptors concentrated in the brain and central nervous system. But does this mean that our bodies evolved to become cannabis?
Well, not exactly. Before envisioning a symbiotic relationship between cannabis and humans, it is important to introduce it into “endogenous cannabinoids” such as anandamide and 2AG (the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids).
If you are a runner and have experienced a euphoric rush after a successful jog (often referred to as a “runner’s high”), then you may be familiar with anandamide.
What are the risks and long-term effects of THC?
There is very little concrete evidence to support theories about the long-term effects of THC.
Research is still ongoing and inconclusive, and as time passes, certain prevailing theories may be confirmed or ruled out altogether.
That said, research into the long-term effects of THC currently includes the following potential effects.
Anatomical changes in the brain
Researchers in a recent study found a link between frequent intake of high THC and anatomical changes in the area of the brain called the a-body, which connects the two cerebral hemispheres.
Using data from participants who self-reported cannabis use, the researchers found that consumers who used high-intensity THC strains on a daily basis had different callosal microstructures compared to consumers who did not use cannabis and those who had never used cannabis.
However, anatomical differences between regular consumers of high-THC cannabis and the rest of the population were not associated with psychosis, another key variable considered by the researchers of this study.
In addition, it is important to note that due to the self-reported nature of this study, there was no independent validation of the accuracy of these results.
the results for smoking, in general, are that these symptoms can be stopped by choosing other methods of consumption, such as vaporization.
March 2016 study suggests that verbal cognitive function declines during ongoing cannabis consumption. It was found that for every five years of marijuana use, participants lost memory for one word from a 15-word list.
However, the sample size of long-term cannabis users in this study was small, so it is difficult to know exactly how definitive their findings were.
In addition, cannabis use was again self-reported, so there was no independent validation of the accuracy of the subjects’ frequency of cannabis consumption.
Only those who are genuinely concerned about their vulnerability to certain psychoses (such as schizophrenia and other such disorders), the study found that regular marijuana use may lead to an average of three years earlier onset of symptoms.
With prolonged, long-term use, the body naturally increases its tolerance to THC. The downside is that increased levels of consumption will be required to achieve the desired effects.
Other than these studies, little is known about the other long-term risks of THC/cannabis use.
What are the medicinal effects of THC?
THC has many medicinal uses. THC may provide benefits in a variety of conditions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Neuropathic and chronic pain
Loss of appetite
Cannabis research is still in its early stages, and new studies will continue to emerge as this research continues to gain traction.