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Featured Cannabinoid: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

By Danyal Swan June 27, 2023

Found in high concentrations in those frosty, shimmering trichomes that cover top-shelf cannabis buds, THC is considered the “holy grail” of cannabis-derived compounds. Growers and extraction operations have been searching for maximum THC levels for as long as cannabis science has existed.

It’s time to explore the many ways THC interacts with the human body, such as its potential therapeutic benefits by way of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). We will also delve into the different methods of consumption, products, and dosing considerations that should be taken into account when you first try consuming THC.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): What You Need to Know

So, what is THC? THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, which many associate with delta-9-THC, the primary psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. It is the chemical responsible for the euphoric “high” commonly linked to cannabis use. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal and recreational properties, even before it was well understood or isolated from other cannabis compounds.

Interestingly, while it is the cannabinoid most associate with the plant, it’s not as abundant as its precursor, THCA. THCA converts to delta-9-THC with decarboxylation, or heating of cannabis, which removes a carboxyl group. Learn more about THCA in our Cannabinoid Guide

THC and the Human Body

When you consume cannabis containing THC, THC enters your bloodstream and is carried throughout the body to bind to cannabinoid receptors, which are part of the endocannabinoid system. This fascinating system within the human body plays a vital role in regulating all sorts of key physiological processes, including appetite, pain, mood, and sleep. By binding (either directly or indirectly) to the endocannabinoid receptors designed to interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid compounds, THC molecules can modulate or influence these natural processes, leading to a range of effects.

THC effects can vary depending on the dose, method of consumption, and individual factors like genetics and tolerance. When consumed in appropriate doses, THC can produce a sense of relaxation, euphoria, heightened sensory perception, creative inspiration, pain relief, and overall well-being. It can also stimulate the user’s appetite and reduce feelings of nausea, making it extremely useful in some specific medical applications, such as treating nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite induced by chemotherapy treatment.

Overly high doses of THC, while not a health risk, can lead to more intense effects for someone with a lower tolerance, which may become unpleasant after a certain threshold is reached. The effects of a large dose of THC may include temporarily impaired coordination, memory, and judgment. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, especially when driving or operating machinery. Driving should never be attempted under the influence of THC.

MÜV Tip: try consuming CBD to counteract any negative effects from too much THC.

THC Is Just One Cannabinoid

It’s always worth remembering that THC is just one of many compounds found in cannabis. The overall effects of your THC dose will also be influenced by the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in the plant. This medicinal synergy of naturally occurring chemical compounds is sometimes called the “entourage effect.”

For example, CBD (cannabidiol) is another well-known cannabinoid that is lauded for its potential therapeutic effects, such as reducing anxiety and inflammation. It also counteracts the psychoactive strength of THC while working in tandem to stack some of the therapeutic benefits. Some strains of cannabis are bred to have higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC, which can offer a more balanced and manageable experience for those who aren’t looking for a strong psychoactive experience.

THC Facts: An Overview

THC Facts

If you’re a newcomer just diving into the chemistry of cannabis for the first time, it can seem like there is a lot to keep track of.

Here are some key THC facts and concepts to keep in mind:

  • Delta-9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for the iconic “high” associated with cannabis use.
  • THC works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, an interconnected system of receptors that plays a role in regulating several important physiological and cognitive processes like appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.
  • Specifically, THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system, “activating” them and triggering neural activity. This can enhance, modulate, or reduce the functions of the endocannabinoid system.
  • THC’s interaction with the ECS receptors in the brain also leads to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This is the process responsible for the euphoric effects of THC.
  • THC is found in higher concentrations in female cannabis plants grown for their buds, while CBD is more often derived from male “hemp” cannabis plants.
  • THC has been the subject of numerous scientific studies, which have explored a vast array of potential therapeutic applications. These range from general pain relief, nausea and vomiting treatment, appetite stimulation, and addiction management to emergent treatments for other specific conditions.
  • The legal status of THC currently varies a great deal depending on the state (or country) in which you’re located. In many places across the United States, THC is now legal for both medical and recreational use, while in others, it remains strictly prohibited; fortunately, Florida patients can access THC for medicinal use.

Potential Benefits of THC

Benefits of THC

As we learn more about the potential benefits of cannabis and the chemical compounds that give it its magic, it becomes even clearer that THC plays a key role in many medicinal and therapeutic effects. Let’s highlight some of the major medicinal applications for cannabis that have been established by science to date:

Pain Relief

THC can be effective at relieving pain, especially neuropathic pain. It is thought that the body’s endocannabinoid receptors can help regulate the perception of pain. Note that CBD is also an effective pain management cannabinoid, thanks to an anti-inflammatory effect comparable to that of ibuprofen.

Nausea and Vomitin

THC is effective at reducing nausea and vomiting. It has been used for these antiemetic purposes extensively in patients undergoing chemotherapy. THC also appears to be a great supplement for less serious, everyday cases of queasy stomach.

Appetite Stimulation

One of THC’s most ubiquitous side effects in pop culture is likely the “munchies,” and this trope is indeed backed by studies that confirm THC’s ability to stimulate the human appetite. This can be helpful for people suffering from conditions that cause low appetite and rapid weight loss, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Eye Health

THC may reduce intraocular pressure, the level of pressure within the eye. This may be life-changing for patients struggling with glaucoma, a condition that causes fluid buildup and increased pressure. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve and eventually leads to blindness.

Anxiety and Depression

Many people utilize THC to reduce anxiety and elevate their mood. THC appears to be effective at reducing anxiety and boosting mood in low to moderate doses. Too-high doses may cause the opposite effect, so it is important to be mindful of your dosing.

Sleep

THC can help improve sleep quality by putting users in a state of mind-and-body relaxation. For many, this reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the time spent asleep. As with using THC for anxiety, it’s important to dose carefully, as too much can increase anxiety and restlessness.

There is a great deal of exciting research on the horizon, and it is our hope that humankind can fully understand this amazing cannabinoid someday soon. As with any treatment or supplement, it’s a great idea to consult with a trusted healthcare professional to help you determine whether THC is right for you.

Different Forms of THC

Products Containing THC

There are many different ways to dose with THC, and each offers a unique experience.

Here are some of the most common forms of THC products you’ll find at our Florida medical dispensaries:

Flower

This is the traditional form of cannabis that most people are familiar with. It consists of the dried buds of the cannabis plant, which are then smoked or vaporized. A good dispensary will have flower on hand in many different strains, each with its own unique flavor, aroma, effects, and cannabinoid concentrations. You find flower in Florida dispensaries from an eighth (3.5 g) up to a quarter (7 g) (, or you can buy a smaller, single-use amount in the convenient form of a pre-rolled joint.

Edibles

This refers to food and drink products that have been infused with THC, such as fruit chews, chocolate bars, and, of course, the iconic cannabis brownie. Edibles take longer to take effect than other forms of THC, but their effects can also hit harder and last longer. This occurs because your body must first digest and metabolize the THC before it reaches the endocannabinoid system.

Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures are liquid extracts that can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) or added to your favorite foods and beverages. Tinctures are often used by people who want to have precise control over their dosage of THC. While THC tinctures are the most popular, you can find tinctures with varying ratios of cannabinoids.

Vape Cartridges

An extremely popular product at dispensaries today is pre-filled cannabis extract cartridges that can be attached to a vape pen battery. You can also get disposable all-in-one units, which are great if you want to sample a new strain without committing to a half-gram cart. Vaping is a convenient and discreet way to consume THC, and yet it remains somewhat similar to that important social and cultural ritual of smoking.

Other Extracts

These highly potent forms of THC can be extracted from raw cannabis flowers using a variety of methods, including the popular butane extraction. Concentrates can come in many different forms, which are usually named after the consistency of the final product, e.g., wax, rosin, shatter, terp sugar, oil, and more.

Topicals

Creams, lotions, salves, ointments, and balms that have been infused with THC can be found at many dispensaries. Topical THC cannot be absorbed completely through the deepest layers of skin and into the bloodstream, meaning there will be no psychoactivity from using a traditional topical. Instead, these products are designed to be applied directly to the skin for highly targeted relief of pain and soreness.

Transdermal Topicals

Unlike traditional topicals, transdermal gels and patches are formulated to reach the bloodstream. This smoke-free delivery does provide psychoactivity when applied to thin-skinned, veinous areas (inside of wrist, top of foot), and when applied in thick, muscled areas (shoulder, quad), results in deep, localized effects.

THC Dosing Considerations

When it comes to dosing THC, the best advice is to start slow and be patient when finding what works best for you. Everyone’s body is different, and what may be an appropriate dose for one person may not be the same for another. Here are some general tips for dosing THC:

Start With a Low Dose

Whether you’re eating edibles or smoking flower, it’s always a good idea to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed. Remember, you can always consume a little more, but it’s near impossible to un-consume cannabis if you decide you’ve had too much. Taking it easy will help you avoid any unpleasant experiences and allow you to work up to your sweet spot. Start with about 2.5 mg for a total beginner or 5 mg for those with some existing tolerance.

Wait Before Dosing Again

Patience is a virtue when it comes to chasing that perfect wave of THC effects. While the initial rush experienced from smoking and vaping comes quickly, the full effects can take some time to kick in fully. Don’t be too quick to take another dose; wait at least an hour before deciding if you’re ready for a follow-up.

THC Dosing

Know the Potency

Assorted products and strains have different concentrations of THC. In other words, it’s not just about the amount you’re using. Know the potency of any THC product before consuming – this information should be available right on the packaging of any reputable commercial product.

Try a Dosing Journal

Keeping track of your dosing and its effects can help you dial in exactly what works best for you. Note the product, strain, dosage, method of consumption, health or environmental factors at the time, and whatever effects you experienced, both positive and negative.

If writing in a journal sounds too cumbersome, try journaling with Strainprint instead. This app helps to analyze the products most effective for your specific symptoms by assessing your symptom level before and after medicating.

Whether traditional writing or the Strainprint app, the goal is to find the right dose for you—one that provides the desired effects without negative side effects. With a little experimentation and patience, you’ll be able to find the perfect product and dose for your lifestyle and goals.

Top THC FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Unleash the Power of THC - Visit MÜV Today

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We hope this guide has provided you with a better understanding of THC and its many potential applications, from helping cancer patients going through extreme treatments to simply helping you relax. As you embark on your journey with THC, make it a point to find the joy in experimenting with various products and embracing the process of finding what works best for you. When you’re ready to elevate your experience to the next level, visit the MÜV Dispensary nearest you for top-quality THC products that are sure to impress.


References:

  1. Hill, K. P., Palastro, M. D., Johnson, B., & Ditre, J. W. (2017). Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 96–104. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2017.0017
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. National Academies Press; 2017.https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/24625/the-health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids-the-current-state
  3. Scherma, M., Muntoni, A. L., Riedel, G., Fratta, W., & Fadda, P. (2020). Cannabinoids and their therapeutic applications in mental disorders
. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 22(3), 271–279. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2020.22.3/pfadda
  4. Webb, Charles W, and Sandra M Webb. “Therapeutic benefits of cannabis: a patient survey.” Hawai'i journal of medicine & public health : a journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health vol. 73,4 (2014): 109-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998228/

Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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