THC is probably one of the most recognizable terms in the cannabis community – but what actually is THC? In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the chemical compound that is THC, how it reacts in our bodies, the different ways in which it can be consumed, its various benefits and much more.
So What THC Actually Is?
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol, better known to cannabis users simply as THC, is the marijuana plant's primary component for causing psychoactive effects – in other words, the part of the plant responsible for getting you high. THC was first discovered and isolated by Bulgarian-born chemist Raphael Mechoulam in Israel in 1964. It was found that, when you smoke, tetrahydrocannabidiol is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, attaching itself to the naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors – known as the endocannabinoid system – located in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia. These are the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and movement.
What Are The Direct Effects Of Consuming THC?
The effects of THC are very different from those of cannabidiol (CBD), another component found in marijuana. CBD has no psychoactive components and is mostly responsible for various physical side-effects, whereas THC is almost completely psychoactive. THC reacts with the endocannabinoids in your brain and central nervous system to cause euphoric, intoxicating sensations. This feeling of euphoria can easily be compared to a “runner's high” – the rush of endorphins after an intense workout. This is because tetrahydrocannabinoids mimic the structure of anandamine, one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the human body, and replicates the function of anandamine in the brain, which is to release dopamine.
The Side-Effects Of Consuming THC
Side-effects of consuming THC depend entirely on the individual and that person's metabolism or sensitivity to weed. It can also depend on the strain of weed that’s being smoked or otherwise ingested. However, the common side-effects of THC that most people seem to share are:
- Pain relief
Other, slightly less common side-effects of THC include:
- Dry mouth
- Red/itchy eyes
- Anxiety or paranoia
- “Couch lock” or intense body heaviness
- Memory impairment
Ways Of Consuming Tetrahydrocannabidiol
There are many ways to ingest THC, with hundreds of items, recipes and products readily available. To be ingested, THC must go through a process called decarboxylation. Decarboxylation removes carbon compounds from the marijuana plant to allow THC to bond with the proper endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and body. It’s important to note that when THC is ingested orally, it is metabolized by the liver as 11-hydroxy-tetrahydrocannabidiol, rather than as delta-9-THC when metabolized in the bloodstream through smoking.
Smoking Your THC
Smoking* is probably the most common way to consume marijuana. With so many options available – pipes, bongs, bubblers, joints, blunts and more – it’s also one of the more diverse ways of consuming cannabis. Vaporizing via THC vapes or pens is another method of smoking THC weed, which typically burns it at a lower temperature.
What Are Tinctures?
Tinctures are a type of cannabis oil which is ingested by squeezing drops of the liquid through an eyedropper syringe under the tongue. Dropping tinctures under the tongue allows you to absorb THC directly into the bloodstream. Tinctures extract up to 60% of the THC and the effects will set in after about 15 minutes.
To extract THC from marijuana, the plant must be soaked in a solvent of isopropyl alcohol, butane and carbon dioxide to dissolve the cannabinoids, and an extraction process is performed. High-THC cannabis will result in high-THC oil, and low-THC cannabis will result in low-THC oil. Consuming THC oil can extract anywhere between 70-95% the THC, making it almost the purest form of THC consumption with some of the highest concentrations of THC.
Eat Your Edibles
Edible THC is one of the most diverse methods of consuming cannabis. Edible THC can be consumed in the form of THC drinks, such as lemonades or milk drinks. Moreover, with THC oils or butters, you can add THC to just about any food imaginable. The onset of the effects from edibles take longer but can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.
Capsule consumption is another oral method of consuming THC. Because it’s ingested orally, capsules will be metabolized as 11-hydroxy-THC. Capsules are filled with oils, giving you another option to ingest oils in a more concentrated way. The effects of capsule THC are dependent upon the strain and the concentration of THC, but the effects will last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.
What Are The Medical Benefits Of THC?
THC and CBD are recorded to have a plethora of medical benefits. The World Health Organization (WHO) has even stated that CBD is not a dangerous substance and can be consumed safely in large quantities. THC, on the other hand, is highly psychoactive, but has the ability to help individuals with all of the following:
- Chronic pain
- Cancer and side-effects related to chemotherapy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer's disease
- Inflammation & arthritis
- Chron's disease
CBD has also been recorded to benefit patients with irritable bowels syndrome (IBS), seizures, depression, migraines, chronic pain and psychosis.
If you're looking for something strong in THC, these strains are typically found to be the highest in concentration. “Strong” THC is considered anything of about 20% concentrate. Some of the strongest strains are Bruce Banner #3, Hulkberry and Gorilla Glue #4, with the highest THC levels reaching an extreme 28-30%. THC concentration is dependent on the strain, how and where the plant is grown, and how the plant is cared for. Common strains to look for in addition to the list linked above are Cookies Gelato, Gelato and Dr. Grinspoon.
How To Detox From THC
Simply put, there are no quick fixes to ridding your system of THC completely in a short amount of time. THC can remain in the system of a light user (about once every few months) from anywhere between 24 hours and 8 days; for heavier users (those who ingest marijuana with THC multiple times a week), THC can remain in the system from a week up to 77 days.
However, if you would like to speed up the process of your body's detox, here are some tips on the best ways to detox from THC:
- To detox from THC, you must first and foremost abstain. If your goal is to cleanse your system of THC, not partaking in any substance that contains THC is a necessity.
- Get lots of exercise (cardio or weight training), as THC stores itself in the fat cells of the body, which, as we all know, can be burned up through physical activity.
- Drink more water and eat a healthy diet.
In The End...
There’s so much left to be said and explored about the world of THC and how it can be used in so many aspects of life. Hopefully in the future, as research becomes easier to conduct and information more readily available, we can revisit this stepping stone and move forward with even more information about the growing benefits, methods and reasons for the consumption of THC.
*All text and images on our website are for informative, entertainment or scientific purposes only. Herbies Seeds in no way condones, promotes or incites the use of illegal or controlled substances.