What is THC?

Describe what THC is, how it works, and what symptoms it is best used for.

Producing over a hundred different cannabinoids, the cannabis plant is one of the most remarkable plants in the world. Although there are so many cannabinoids, there are only a few that seem to make the headlines, with THC being one of the most talked about. This is in part because of the current classification of cannabis by the DEA as a Schedule I drug, limiting and restricting scientific research. The other part being, we do know that THC is responsible for the high feeling that is so famously associated with consuming cannabis, and we’ve discovered it has several applications as a medicine. 

THC stands for tetrahydracannabidiol. THC is just one of so many different cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients found in the cannabis plant. THC may be best known for being the cannabinoid that gets you high, but the term high is just a commonly used term to describe the general sense of euphoria associated with cannabis. This feeling of euphoria, or being high, is part of what makes cannabis such a powerful medicine. 

THC has been shown to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and elevate mood. It is also known for contributing to an increase in hunger, generally described as giving patients the munchies. There are several medical conditions, including cancer, pain and bowel disorders that may cause a patient to feel nauseous and/or not want to eat. If this is you, you’re in luck, because THC works within the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to stimulate and regulate hunger, metabolism, and digestion. This makes THC a good choice for people having trouble with their appetite or digestion. 

The pain relieving effects and other medicinal effects of THC have been widely documented, both anecdotally from patients, as well as in scientific research studies. THC binds to the cannabinoids receptors in our ECS. It affects our brain and central nervous system in addition to other physiological processes in the body, which is why it can help with so many different medical conditions.

THC is very close in molecular structure to a cannabinoid our bodies produce on their own, an endocannabinoid called anandamide. Our bodies produce anandamide naturally, throughout the day, especially when we get physical or exercise. In fact, anandamide is responsible for causing the euphoric feeling referred to as the runner’s high. Because THC is shaped so similar to anandamide, it is no wonder it also gives consumers a feeling of being high, which in itself, can be medicinal. 

Although there has been extensive research into THC, due to legal limitations, most of the studies have been conducted on rodents. The results of these studies may have shown promise in cannabis being able to treat a lengthy list of diseases and disorders, but tests in rodents don’t always translate to humans. Research on THC and cannabis is continuing to evolve and expand as more states adopt legal cannabis programs. As the research continues, so will the evidence to support THC and cannabis as a whole, as the modern medical miracle it seems to be. 

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