What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)? What is it and what does it do?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the active chemical compounds in cannabis and is one of the oldest hallucinogenic drugs known. It was first discovered in 1964 and was isolated and synthesized from the cannabis plant by a Bulgarian-born Israeli organic chemist named Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. THC can be derived from THCA by non-enzymatic decarboxylation during storage and consumption. It is responsible for the well-documented psychoactive effects experienced when consuming cannabis.

How Can THC Help?

THC is used for medical uses. Its anti-emetic properties (inhibits vomiting) are particularly useful in the treatment of cancer patients on chemotherapy.

The effects of THC include:

  • Relaxation
  • Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Reduced aggression

There is a good bit of evidence that suggests it is beneficial as a daily supplement. Mainly because of its effect on the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, THC is promising in regulating appetite.

The importance of heart health can’t be overstated, and a study from Israel concluded that incredibly small doses of THC can help prevent heart attacks. The same study also found a small dose of THC could be a useful preparation for heart surgery. It minimized the amount of lasting damage in cardiac tissue post-operation.

How Tetrahydrocannabinol Affects Your Body & Brain?

Tetrahydrocannabinol stimulates cells in the brain, releasing dopamine and creating a state of euphoria. It can interfere with how new memories are formed by disrupting information being processed in the hippocampus.

Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids. These chemicals bind to cannabinoid receptors. This entire system helps regulate a bunch of basic functions like appetite, sleep, mood, and many others.

Mild side effects of larger doses of THC can include anxiety, elation, burning eyes, dry mouth, shaking/trembling, increased heart rate and/or shortness of breath (or at least the perception of such) and short-term memory loss. Smoking or ingesting too much THC in a short period of time can intensify and alter its effects.

According to the NIDA, you get high when THC “over activates” the parts of your brain and body with the most cannabinoid receptors. Those hyper-stimulated receptors trigger various changes in mood, appetite, sleep, thought processes, memory, body movement, and sense perception.

How Much THC Is in Cannabis?

The answer to that is, it depends.

THC concentration can alter from plant to plant and strain to strain. For example, hemp is known to contain a minimal amount of THC – around 0.5 percent, according to the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

Other strains can contain as little as 0.3 percent THC while others still have been found to contain up to 20 percent.

On average, marijuana contains 1 to 5 percent, hashish (a more potent form of cannabis) contains 5 to 15 percent, and hashish oil can contain around 20 percent.

The lower the THC content, the more a recreational user must consume to feel its desired effects.

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