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Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): The Most Popular Cannabinoid

What is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?

For years, THC was the only cannabinoid that got any attention. It is widely considered the most psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, and until recently a lot of the world’s best breeders placed a priority on plants that could deliver high numbers. Despite its popularity, a large number of folk know little about it, but there is much to learn about these three letters. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol.

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the precursor to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabichromene (CBC).

Although breeders previously aimed at growing strains with high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is known that the process is more complicated. THC results from numerous changes and reactions. The plant starts by producing cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). From here, a portion of the CBGA is converted to tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THCA), which becomes THC when exposed to heat or UV light. Because of this decarboxylation process, most of the THC you experience when smoking cannabis started as THCA.

When lab testing for THC content, companies like Steep Hill Halent Laboratories in California and Sunrise Analytical in Oregon actually measure the amount of THCA and combine it with the amount of THC to get a final result.

This is definitely one of the better ways to measure the amount of THC you will experience when consuming. Research suggests that no more than 70% will be converted when exposed to extreme heat. Instead, it will remain in the form of THCA.

What Are The Effects Of THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a phytocannabinoid that activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. The CB1 receptors are generally located in the nervous system, and they are responsible for the psychoactive effect that THC can cause. The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are more prevalent in the immune and gastrointestinal systems, and play a major role in minimizing inflammation.

One instance where the benefits of THC are obvious is the the treatment of Crohn’s Disease. A recent study published by Meir Medical Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine found that THC can cause remission of Crohn’s Disease. The study suggests it is the interaction with the CB2 receptor that minimizes the inflammation caused by Crohn’s Disease.

THC has been linked to an improvement in symptoms of Tourette’s disorder, glaucoma and eating disorders, among others.

In terms of the CB1 receptor, a study performed by the University of Haifa in Israel showed that THC can help minimize the negative effects of stress. Because THC activates the CB1 receptor, it promotes a process called Long Term Potentiation, which improves the ability to learn. It also can help protect spatial memories, due to it’s effect in the hippocampus.

How Can THC Help?

Protection from stress isn’t the only psychological benefit of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Professionals in the psychological field have found it useful in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and exposure-based phobia therapy. These are just two of the many forms of anxiety, and cannabis is often used to counteract the other types as well. Psychology has also pointed to THC as a regulator of adult brain development (see Neuroplasticity).

THC has been used to promote a healthy appetite in patients suffering from eating disorders, AIDS and those undergoing chemotherapy.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not only useful in a scientific manner by any means. In fact, there is a good bit of evidence that suggests it is beneficial as a daily supplement. Mainly because of its effect on the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, THC is promising in regulating appetite.

The importance of heart health can’t be overstated, and a study from Israel concluded that incredibly small doses of THC can help prevent heart attacks. The same study also found a small dose of THC could be a useful preparation for heart surgery. It minimized the amount of lasting damage in cardiac tissue post-operation.

THC Is A Cannabinoid With A Variety Of Benefits

Because of its psychoactive properties, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rose to stardom among the cannabinoids. In turn, breeders made it their main goal to produce as much THC as possible. Now, however, research on the other cannabinoids present in cannabis has shown there is more to the miracles of this plant than THC alone.


Strains with high concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) have made their way back into the mainstream and there is a budding trend to develop high cannabigerol (CBG) strains. Although a well-balanced cannabinoid profile is certainly ideal, strains high in THC have shown to serve a purpose. Not only is it beneficial as a supplement to everyday life, but it has successfully helped a number of people deal with physical and mental ailments.

Strains high in THC, such as Cherry Lopez (21%) Royal Kush (25%), Godfather OG (28%) often offer a heady, sometimes spacey effect. Patients who suffer from anxiety are sometimes steered away from strains with abnormally high levels of THC. If the effects of THC aren’t properly balanced by the other cannabinoids it can cause your thoughts to race a little; and if you have anxiety then you know rapid thinking doesn’t help in the slightest.

That being said, THC can be quite useful for anxiety if the dose is managed appropriately; just take it slow. THC is a natural compound and more findings about its benefits seem to present themselves everyday. THC rose to fame for its psychoactive properties, and it is not likely to fall anytime soon.


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