THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and the most well-known cannabinoid.
THC produces the euphoric “high” often associated with consuming cannabis, in addition to having several medical properties. Four things you should know about THC:
THC helps regulate nausea and vomiting, and was first used as an anti-emetic in the early 1970’s by doctors looking to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea, and was soon used to treat nausea in HIV and AIDS patients. It is also a known appetite stimulant.
THC is an analgesic, meaning that it blocks pain receptors in the nervous system. Some patients use THC in combination with opioids, while others have used cannabis to wean themselves off of other pain medications.
THC acts as a neuroprotectant and has shown promise treating traumatic brain injuries. Its neuroprotective properties have also been linked to preventing Alzheimer’s.
THC has been shown to induce apoptosis, or cell death, in tumor cells. In other words, THC helps fight cancer.
The Entourage Effect (Better Together):
While THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, there are several other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant such as CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol). The entourage effect essentially means that cannabinoids act as a team, working better together.
Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, known as the “Father of Cannabis,” coined the term “entourage effect.” Mechoulam discovered the interactive synergy of the full spectrum of therapeutic cannabinoid compounds, which all work harmoniously together to stimulate healing and maximize the benefits of each individual cannabinoid and terpene in the cannabis plant.
The History of THC:
THC was first isolated in 1964 by Israeli scientists Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Yechiel Gaoni at The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Since the discovery of THC, 113 different cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plant.
Dr. Mechoulam discovered the endocannabinoid system in 1992 in collaboration with NIMH research fellow William Devane and Dr. Lumir Hanus, by tracing a sequence of chemical reactions caused by THC in the brain.
Dr. Mechoulam’s findings launched decades of scientific research and clinical studies into the therapeutic uses of the cannabis plant and were the impetus for the founding of Tikun Olam. Since its discovery, nearly 10,000 medical studies have been conducted studying THC and its effects.
How It Works:
THC binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are cells that interact with and transmit signals to sensory nerves. CB1 receptors are located throughout the central nervous system, concentrated in the brain and spinal cord. These receptors control the psychoactive effects of cannabis and help regulate emotions.
CB1 receptors are also found in lower amounts spread throughout the body in organ tissue and along the intestinal tract. Because THC is processed differently when ingested, that often leads to a longer, more consistent high.
CB2 receptors are found primarily in immune cells located in the brain and throughout parts of the body that regulate the immune system such as including the spleen, tonsils, and thymus gland.