If you’ve heard about cannabis, you already what THC is. THC (along with CBD) is one of the two most notorious cannabinoids present in cannabis. Everybody knows it’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of the plant, but there a lot more to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
History of THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol was first discovered in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli scientist. He obtained a large amount of Hash from the police and conducted one of the first major studies done on cannabis. He was able to isolated CBD and THC, this information led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.
Endocannabinoid system is basically the central healing mechanism of the human body,it is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (tendency of organisms to auto-regulate).
It is not physically located anywhere, but it affects the nervous system, the brain and many of the vital organs. It wasn’t until our knowledge of cannabinoids like THC & CBD, that we knew the body harboured this system. This affectedthe course of modern medicine drastically.
The bliss molecule
The fact that our bodies have cannabinoid receptors that bind perfectly with THC left scientists confused for almost decades. Finally, in the 80s, anandamidewas discovered, a neurotransmitter that is produced in the human brain, THC and anandamide have almost identical chemical structures.
Anandamide isoften called the “bliss molecule”, it gets its name from the Sanskrit word, “Ananda”, meaning bliss. It is one of many neurotransmitter cannabinoids that arenaturally found in the human body, so it is considered to be a part of the endocannabinoid system.
Anandamide has many roles in the endocannabinoid system, it regulates memory, mood, higher thought process, movement control, pain, appetite and even fertility. It is called the bliss molecule because of the chemicals ability to create a state of heightened happiness.
Our body reacts so positively to THC because THC resembles something that is inherently present in our body, something that a natural healing effect on our body.
What does a THC high feel like?
THC is what makes you stoned or high, although it has been isolated as the compound that gives the psychoactive effect, little to nothing is known about how itworks. All we know that is that THC binds with the cannabinoid receptor, and then a series of processes begin that result in the user getting “high”.
The high will make you feel drowsy, energized, euphoria, increased appetite, relaxation, altered spatial awareness and memory, a skewed sense of time,increased sensory awareness.
Although usually user get this desired effect, for some people it can cause anxiety and paranoia. This largely depends on the individual, what their natural anandamide levels, as well as the environment in which cannabis is being used.
Medicinal benefits of THC
Although THC is mainly known and desired for its psychoactive effects, but it has many latent medicinal properties.
It is known to be an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and an anti-depressant, THC is effective against auto-immune diseases. There is so much anecdotal evidence supporting the medicinal benefits of THC, and most of these anecdotes are supported by scientific research.
THC is a muscle relaxant, a cannabis-based medicine is already on the market in over 30 countries.The medicine, called “Sativex”, contains both THC and CBD, it is prescribed to anyone experiencing muscle spasticity, pain, and cramping.
“You can’t spell healthcare without THC”
The cannabinoid is also an anti-tumour agent, while multiple cannabinoids show potential, THC is one of the main contenders. According to Dr Gregory Smith, a Harvard-trained physician:
“Cannabis does that apoptosis, that horrible word, that tells the cancer cell to go kill itself. It’s literally a key that turns a lock and tells the cell to kill itself”
In past researches, THC has been shown to block a tumour from forming blood vessels. This essentially starves the cancer cells by cutting off their food and oxygen supply.
THC content over time has been increasing
Because of increasing ease of growing and an ever-evolving medicinal cannabis industry, the potency of cannabis has been going up for better part of the last two decades. According to a research done in Colorado:
"As far as potency goes, it's been surprising how strong a lot of the marijuana is," says researcher and study lead Andy LaFrate. "We've seen potency values close to 30 percent THC, which is huge.”
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This is good for both recreational and medicinal users.
Despite there being some studies that suggest that THC may have negative long-term effects on memory, there is no conclusive evidence.People have reported that cannabis has an effect on short term memory immediately after use, but there is negligible evidence to support the claim thatcannabis affects long term memory.
Moreover, there are basically no long-term effects of THC, the only long-term effect is caused by the smoking itself.The fact that it’s not addictive and has no long-term effects makes this molecule important in the medical world.
THC is loved so much because it can do both, it can make us high and cure a plethora of medical conditions.
The illegality of cannabis is the very definition of absurdity. Although there’s no way of knowing when it will get legalized for good, the least we can do is stand up for a plant that can’t defend itself.
“Is marijuana addictive? Yes, in the sense that most of the really pleasant things in life are worth endlessly repeating.”