It’s one of the more prevalent cannabis-related questions: What is THC?
THC is short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a cannabinoid. THC is well known, even though most people who have heard about it don’t know exactly what it does or how it works. Whether you’re new to the world of cannabis products, or an experienced consumer, it’s likely you immediately associate cannabis with THC. And you’re right, but there’s also more to the "What is THC?" story. Let’s start by answering the question...
What are cannabinoids?
A cannabinoid is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. There are many different cannabinoids, but THC and CBD (cannabidiol) are the best known. When you consume cannabis, the cannabinoids enter your body and attach to CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the endocannabinoid system of your body. When this happens, the you begin feeling the effects of the cannabis, often including the “high.” The “high” is caused by THC, which is a psychoactive compound. CBD for example will not make you feel high. The effects of cannabinoids can be both physical and psychological, and their intensity will differ from person to person, depending on variables like one’s sensitivity and build-up tolerance.
Not all cannabis products contain (only) THC
It’s important to understand that most strains contain both CBD, which doesn’t make you high, and THC. When buying a product, whether it’s smokable cannabis, an edible, or a topical, you must make sure you understand how much THC it contains. This will help you when choosing the moment of the day you consume your cannabis. Because THC gives you a euphoric high, it might be smart to avoid smoking right before an important meeting or job interview. But when you’re hanging out with friends at home and need some pain relief, THC is fine to use.
What is THC's effect on the body in the short-term?
Now that we've answered the "What is THC?" question, we can discuss what it does. THC can have several short-term effects on consumers. Some of these effects are wanted, but others aren’t as much. The intensity depends mostly on what amount of THC your body is used to. Some of these effects are:
• Pain relief
• Increased heart rate
• Slowed perception of time
• Feeling heavy
• Memory impairment
• Red eyes
THC has been the subject of many studies. The cannabinoid might offer benefits for people suffering from PTSD, nausea, migraines, appetite loss, ADHD, glaucoma, fibromyalgia or insomnia for instance. THC can cause hunger, which might be beneficial for people who have lost appetite. And the relaxing effect might be helpful for people suffering from insomnia.
There are, it should be mentioned, possible limits to the use of cannabis for some of these symptoms and conditions. Many ophthalmologists wonder if using cannabis to treat glaucoma is really the best long-term solution. According to some of these doctors, patients would have to smoke cannabis every few hours in order to keep a lower intraocular pressure (IOP). This means that during this treatment, you would even have to get up at night to consume cannabis. For such reasons, you should always consult your ophthalmologist before using medical cannabis to try and treat your glaucoma.
When it comes to fibromyalgia, things are rather complicated as well. This condition is often misunderstood, and researchers still don’t know exactly what causes the chronic pain and other symptoms the patients suffer. Many testimonials suggest that medical cannabis helps fight the symptoms better than pharmaceutical medication. But everyone has a different type and amount of pain and other symptoms. Moreover, they can vary every single day, depending on the weather, the amount of stress, a lack of sleep. So it appears cannabis might be an option, although patients would need some time to find the right strain, or the right edible to alleviate their symptoms.
A build-up tolerance for THC
When you consume cannabis regularly for a prolonged period of time, your body builds up a tolerance. This basically means that you will need more to get the same effects. If you don’t want to consume more than you do now, several alternatives can be tested. For instance you could take a tolerance break or stop consuming cannabis for a set amount of time in order to achieve better effects once you start again. If this isn’t possible because you use cannabis as a treatment, try changing the times on which you consume.
There are few silver bullets in the the medical space. However, cannabis is a helpful option for many ailments. The key is to develop an understanding of how it can best be used in your own unique experience.