The active compounds in marijuana that are commonly found in the psychoactive market are THC and CBD. Although the latter is best known for its relaxing effects, THC has also been the subject of several scientific researches that have helped determine the psychoactive scopes of this cannabinoid.
Delta 8 is a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant, of which marijuana and hemp are two varieties. Delta 8 THC is one of more than 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant, but is not found in significant amounts in the cannabis plant. Therefore, concentrated amounts of delta 8 THC are usually made from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD).
According to laboratory tests, there are two types of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): delta 8 and delta 9. The difference between these two molecules is subtle, but has a major impact on the overall effects. Delta 8 has similar psychoactive effects to delta 9 without producing some of the negative effects, such as anxiety or paranoia. For that reason many people opt to buy delta 8 THC Austin, to get its benefits without the harmful effects of cannabinoids.
Although both molecules share a similar structure, the minimal but important difference lies in the location of a carbon chain. Although it may seem insignificant, this creates different effects when the psychoactive is processed. The delta 8 molecule has a longer shelf life than delta 9. Over time, part of the latter is converted into the former, while the rest is broken down into another cannabinoid called CBN. It is very important to emphasize that CBN is not psychoactive and is not the same as CBD.
HOW DOES THC INTERACT WITH THE HUMAN BODY?
When we consume cannabis, compounds from the plant enter our bloodstream and are distributed throughout the body, where they interact with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.
These receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, spine, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal, immune and central nervous systems.
These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in the regulation of numerous physiological processes, such as appetite, pain management, mood and memory.
Our body produces its own cannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), which interact with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Anandamide, for example, is produced after exercise and may be responsible for the feeling of euphoria and low sensitivity to pain that many people experience after exercise (colloquially speaking it is called «runner’s high»).
Like anandamide and 2-AG, THC and other cannabinoids interact with the body’s cannabis receptors and induce different effects associated with marijuana use. The lock and key analogy is often used, where the body’s receptors are the locks and the chemicals in cannabis (or produced by our endocannabinoid system) are the key.
Much of the research responsible for the discovery of the human and other mammalian endocannabinoid system is due to Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an organic chemist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF THC?
When THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in our body, it induces a whole range of effects, both short and long term.
It is important to remember that THC can affect people very differently. While it can make some people relaxed, it can cause anxiety in others. Similarly, it can help people fall asleep or cause a feeling of restlessness and nervousness.
Science isn’t quite clear on what causes these imbalances; it could be due to our individual body chemistry, or the different concentrations of THC, or how it interacts with other cannabinoids in cannabis.
Either way, we’ve listed some of the most common short- and long-term effects of THC. Remember: if you ever experience an unpleasant sensation while using marijuana, discuss it with your doctor immediately.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF THC?
The most common short-term effects are:
Increased heart rate
Slow perception of time
«Couch effect» or feeling of heaviness
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF THC
More research on the long-term effects of THC is needed to draw any real conclusions about how prolonged use affects the body.
In 2016, researchers at the University of Cambridge looked at how regular THC use affects brain structure.
This study analyzed the microstructure of the corpus callosum (the region of the brain that connects the two hemispheres) of regular users, occasional users, and people who had never used cannabis.
It was found that regular users of THC-rich cannabis have different anatomical structures of the corpus callosum than occasional users and never users.
The participants in this study indicated how often they used cannabis, which is very important to note, as there is no independent verification of the accuracy of the data provided by the participants themselves.
Regular use of THC-rich cannabis has also been shown to increase the risk of psychosis in individuals predisposed to this disorder (or variations of psychosis, such as schizophrenia).
A 2016 study showed that habitual cannabis use could accelerate the onset of psychosis, in predisposed individuals, by up to 3 years.
Recent research conducted by cannabis experts at Yale School of Medicine also shows that habitual cannabis use creates a tolerance to THC. However, this research also indicates that tolerance returns to normal levels after about 2 days of abstinence.
And finally, another 2016 study published in the international academic medical journal JAMA, indicates that habitual use of THC-rich cannabis may lead to a decline in memory. The study found that for every 5 years of cannabis use, participants forgot 1 word from a list of 15.
THERAPEUTIC USES OF THC
There is no doubt that THC has medicinal properties. However, the debate about the medical potential of marijuana (and THC) is far from over, and much more research is still needed in this area.
But recent studies indicate that THC may be beneficial in the treatment of:
PTSD: THC has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Research conducted in Brazil indicates that it is highly effective in interrupting the consolidation of contextual fear memories.
Chronic pain: THC and other cannabinoids reduce chronic pain associated with a variety of disorders, from arthritis to fibromyalgia.
Glaucoma: The only way to treat glaucoma is to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP). Studies from the 1970s indicate that cannabis may be beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma, as it has been shown to lower IOP.
Insomnia: Many cannabis users, both recreational and medical, report using marijuana late in the day to help them relax.