THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is a compound found in cannabis responsible for that high feeling. It is one of the main psychoactive components of cannabis, along with CBN, cannabinol. It is one of the most well-known compounds.
Due to its psychoactive properties, many people disregard THC as possibly offering health benefits.
But it does – and so much more than you think!
People have been using THC to treat themselves for thousands of years.
Once absorbed by the blood, THC mimics anandamide, a chemical naturally produced by the brain to help neurons fire so that connections may be made in the brain. What THC does, however, is it attaches to the neuron and slightly alters the way the brain communicates with itself.
While this sounds awful and scary, it can actually help. By altering the way the brain functions, the body can alter the way it responds to both itself and external stimuli. While it does cause temporary movement, concentration and sensory issues, it can also numb pain receptors, reduce inflammation and repair lost neuron connections.
Depression and Anxiety
THC stimulates the brain to release dopamine – the chemical responsible for feeling happiness. This can help alleviate depression and some forms of anxiety. The release of dopamine call also have motivational and concentration effects, giving the user the drive necessary to function in their daily lives.
THC is a major contributor to that lethargic feeling you get after getting high. As a result, it has helped many insomniacs fall asleep for decades. It also has bronchodilatory effects, meaning that it helps open up the airways and lungs for better breathing while awake and sleeping. This is great for people who struggle with snoring and sleep apnea.
Because of the muscle relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties of THC, it is frequently used for pain relief. It can be anything from a mild case, such as headaches, period cramps and after-sports muscle stiffness, to more chronic conditions, such as arthritis, surgery and neuropathic pains.
This compound has been also shown to numb the pain receptors, thereby limiting the perception of pain from the muscles to the brain. This allows people to normally function in life, uninhibited by their pain.
For some people, eating is more of a chore than something they enjoy. Whether it is a side effect to the medication they are taking or from a condition they are suffering from, THC can be used to stimulate the appetite and encourage better eating.
THC releases ghrelin, the hormone responsible for that hungry feeling. It also activates the taste buds, making food taste better, thereby encouraging people to be more excited about eating. It has been used to improve the appetites of those suffering from AIDS, cancer, dementia and hepatitis.
Nausea & Vomiting
Small amounts of THC is shown to have a tremendous effect on subsiding nausea and vomiting. It is used extensively in cancer treatments to minimise nausea caused by cancer medicines.
In fact, many anti-nausea pills today have trace amounts of THC in them to help alleviate these symptoms.
THC is one of the few drugs that is considered a neuroprotectant, rather than a neurotoxin. Where a neurotoxin will deteriorate the brain at a rapid rate, a neuroprotectant will protect brain cells from damage, and even go as far are to increase their lifespans.
THC promotes brain growth and the formation of neural pathways by activating our brain’s learning centre. While THC may hamper our memories if taken in too large a dose, in small doses, it causes the hippocampus to grow – the part of the brain associated with learning and emotions.
This makes it a good treatment for those with deteriorating neurological conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be treated with THC. As it reduces, stress, anxiety, depression, agitation, insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks, it is seen as one of the most effective ways to treat PTSD, allowing sufferers to live a happier, more balanced lifestyle.
Boosts CBD properties
These days, everyone knows about CBD, cannabidiol, and its health benefits. This is due to the CDB movement that has swept across the world. While CBD is undeniably effective, research has shown that a combination of THC and CBD is the most beneficial combination for human health. This is because THC acts as a booster for CBD, and CBD lessens THC’s psychoactive properties.
While there are no deadly risks to THC, having too much can have some unintended and unpleasant effects.
Impaired motor skills
THC can hinder one’s fine motor skills, making things like driving or operating machinery very dangerous. It can have a similar bodily effect to alcohol in that it slows your reaction time and reduces sensory sensitivity.
Owing to THC’s ability to interfere with the brain’s functioning, too much THC can cause hallucinations and delusions. It can change the way a person thinks and processes information. Thankfully, this issue is only temporary and will disappear when the effects of the high wear off.
In people with already elevated levels of anxiety, too much THC can cause paranoia and panic, even increased levels of anxiety. It is thus not recommended for people with mood disorders as it can have severely adverse effects on their stability.
Dry eyes and mouth
While this is not particularly a risk, it is the cause for a lot of distress in many people. Dry eyes will become itchy and red. And cottonmouth is severely unpleasant. These can be rectified by making sure you drink enough fluids and keeping some generic eye drops on hand.
In a nutshell…
As cannabis becomes more and more legal across the world, more and more research is being put into the benefits of it and its compounds. It was, after all, only through research that we first learnt that cannabis was not bad for you, but more beneficial than what people thought.
THC can be found in various forms:
- Raw cannabis
- Oils and tinctures
- Lotions and balms
Depending on your intended use and desired effects, you may find some forms more useful than others. For example, if you are an asthmatic gym junkie looking to soothe your sore muscles, then a THC enriched balm will be more to your liking than blazing up a joint. Alternatively, if you are treating a patient with dementia whose motor and cognitive skills have deteriorated, it may be easier to add a few drops of oils to her food every day. Pick what works best for you.
As you can see, THC can be both fun, and beneficial to your health. Conversely, too much of it can also be more of a hindrance than a saviour. As always, practice safe use and never push your body further than it’s willing to go. Also, consult your doctor before prolonged use – especially if you want to treat a more serious condition, like a mental disorder or chronic pain relief.
Be safe. Be healthy. And may all your days be high ones.
Evarínya is a dancer, a dreamer, a cynic and a lover of glitter.
She began writing at a young age, creating her own private imaginary worlds to disappear into.
While her pursuit of her engineering degree side tracked her for a while, she has returned to the
world she loves in hopes of sharing her experiences and stories.
She believes in the empowerment of women through non-conventional methods and seeks to
uncover the world of cannabis through experimentation and the scientific method.
In her spare time, she reads avidly, sews and paints. She tutors part-time and blogs weekly. You can
find out more about her by reading her personal blog, Mist in the Mountains.