What is THC? Plus How To Effectively Use It

Buds of Medical Marijuana with stethoscope

Most, if not all of us, have heard of THC. Whether it was in a long, adoring rant from your college roommate or you've done a little research on your own, the idea of THC is bound to have crossed your path at some point. 

Have you ever taken a deep dive and asked, "what is THC, and how does it operate within the body?" How about the variations of THC that exist in nature and what they can do?

We're going to take a look at THC today, exploring how it can be used, what it can do for you, and what it's made up of. 

Having a solid understanding of THC can help you make informed decisions at the dispensary and allow you to school up your friends when they make false claims about it. Additionally, you might find that you're interested in exploring some of the hemp derivatives similar to THC. 

Let's take a look. 

A Basic Guide: What is THC?

First things first, THC isn't synonymous with cannabis. It grows within cannabis, and it's the main psychoactive component of cannabis, but it's just one piece of the vast puzzle that makes up the marijuana plant. 

THC is one of roughly 144 cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create the particular chemovar profile of a strain. The chemovar profile is essentially the plant's chemical makeup, which determines how it interacts with the body to produce different effects. That variety is why some cannabis products will affect you much differently. 

Ingesting one strain might have you feeling fantastic, creative, and euphoric, while another might put you right to bed. Further, some strains might send you into a strange mental space, while others can relieve your anxiety. 

While THC is one of two dominant cannabinoids in almost all strains of cannabis, the remaining 142 are present in minuscule levels. Breeding allows growers to cultivate strains to produce specific effects. Over time, we've developed the ability to tweak the ratios of cannabinoids to make strains better for different situations in a person's life. 

Additionally, the ability to breed strains to our needs helps many options for medical treatments. 

What is Delta 9 THC?

The THC that we know and love is called delta 9 THC. Five cannabinoids hold the name "THC" somewhere in their title, and they all have a relatively similar chemical structure. That doesn't mean they produce the same effects, though. For example, delta 8 THC is a substance that is currently growing in popularity. 

Delta 8 is present in small levels in cannabis strains, but it's also the result of delta 9 THC when it ages. If you allow a strain of cannabis to sit for long enough, its THC's chemical structure will degrade and become delta 8. That shift in composition makes delta 8 interact with the body differently and produce different effects. 

People often refer to it as "weed lite" because the psychological effects aren't as strong, but the health benefits and body effects remain. There's also a lot less anxiety and paranoia involved when you use delta 8.

So, when you're looking at the contents of a particular strain of cannabis, make sure that you clarify which version of THC you're dealing with. You can get more information about delta eight and see if it's something you might be interested in trying. 

One benefit is that it's federally legal when the product doesn't have more than .3 percent delta 9 THC. 

How do Cannabinoids Work?

Cannabinoids bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Interestingly enough, there aren't very many plants in nature that produce cannabinoids. This is why cannabis is so potent and unique to people. It comes equipped with pieces that fit directly into existing structures within the body. 

Sure, there are other drugs out there that work with the body and produce incredible effects, but most of them aren't as fine-tuned to work with us. This could be part of the reason that nobody has ever overdosed on cannabis. It's undoubtedly involved that there are so many medicinal benefits to cannabis. Even a number that hasn't been researched and understood. 

The human body produces a few endocannabinoids. Naturally, those operate internally to help the endocannabinoid system function properly. The system has several functions, but its general purpose is to keep our body in equilibrium. That involves the immune response, appetite, pain, muscles, and even the balance of neurotransmitters. 

We don't understand the full extent of the endocannabinoid system because it was only discovered recently. It was found in the mid-90s when researchers were trying to examine the effects of marijuana on the human body. So few substances interact in the same way that nobody had reason to find the endocannabinoid system until then.

THC in The Endocannabinoid System 

When we ingest cannabis, it makes its way into our blood and eventually finds its way to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system isn't exactly a physical system like the central nervous system or the digestive system. 

It exists within the receptors of the nervous system. Neurons are home to numerous receptors that bind with particular chemical compounds. Plugging up one receptor might affect how other receptors interact with chemical mixtures, and different things happen within the body. For example, morphine binds to the opioid receptors in your body and mimics the natural opioids that it typically works with. 

Substituting morphine for your body's distinct chemical compounds prompts pain signals to slow down significantly and allows serotonin and dopamine to shift your perception. The exact process happens whenever you take a drug. Almost anything that our bodies take in interacts with our natural systems in this way. 

The tricky thing about many medications and products, though, is that they don't naturally agree with our systems. Morphine, for example, has a high risk of overdose. Cannabis does not. 

When cannabinoids bind to the endocannabinoid system, they lock in with one of two receptors. The endocannabinoid system is composed of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1s are thought to affect areas of the brain more heavily than the body.

CB2 receptors are thought to work their way through the body and deal with issues in pain, immune response, and more. The receptor that a cannabinoid binds to will impact the way that it affects the user. 

THC, CBD, and Delta 8: Effects and Receptors

Our beloved THC binds to the CB1 receptor. This is a big part of the reason that it's known to produce such strong psychological effects. Binding to CB1 receptors allows THC to move up into the brain and interact with areas like the frontal cortex and the amygdala. 

The frontal cortex plays a massive role in cognition, perception, memory, and mood. If you've ever used a significant amount of THC, you know that those areas of consciousness are impacted significantly. The amygdala, on the other hand, is our brain's center for fear and anxiety. 

We need the amygdala to keep us alert and safe when we're in danger. When THC interacts with it, though, it can jumpstart it for seemingly no reason and make a person extra anxious. There are many reasons to feel a little odd, even nervous, when your brain is in an altered state. Still, THC's relationship with the amygdala is no doubt the reason that weed has a reputation for causing nerves and paranoia. 

Have you ever wondered, "what is the difference between THC and CBD, and why do they produce such different effects?"

The most important thing is that they have different chemical structures. Something about CBD just isn't going to interact with the brain in a way that causes psychoactive effects. Another big reason is that CBD binds to CB2 receptors. This sends it into the body to do its work, relieving pain and calming the nervous system. 

Delta 8, on the other hand, is similar to delta 9 THC but binds to CB2 receptors as CBD does. This leads to a mild high that has many the same effects on the body as CBD. 

How to Effectively Use THC

Now that you know how THC relates to cannabis and works within the human body let's look at some of the methods for using it. 

Knowing how things work is excellent, but the thing that will impact you most is how you approach your use of cannabis. We'll explore these ideas with the assumption that you've never used THC before. Even if you have, it's still good to get a fresh take on approaching things. 

The first thing to note is that cannabis can be pretty intense, especially now that it's refined. There are strains on the market that are too powerful for a lot of people. If you didn't know that the strain you were using was potent, you might find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation. 

It's essential to be aware of the product you're using, know its THC levels, and have an idea of what you're going to do when you use it. 

Testing Your Products

Set aside a time for you to use the THC product you purchase in a comfortable environment. Maybe you're with a friend, or perhaps you're just in your pajamas at your house, but you must be in a habitable zone for the first time. 

Once you get the hang of things, you can be a little more relaxed with your approach, but you never know how cannabis will affect you if you haven't tried it. You might find that it makes you extremely anxious, and it's best to be in the comfort of your own home when that happens. 

In any case, it's nice to be high in a comfortable environment where you can make some food, watch a movie, giggle to yourself, and fall asleep. That scenario is far better than walking around in a city, getting lost, taking the bus, getting called into work, running into your ex-boyfriend, and winding up with a panic attack. 

Things happen. 

What is THC Candy?

THC candy is one of your options for consuming cannabis if you're not interested in smoking it. Typically, this is just a tasty candy with THC infused into it and will produce effects within an hour of consuming it. 

These can be pretty strong, though, so never underestimate the power of that tiny gumdrop. 

What is THC Concentrate?

THC concentrate is an extracted form of THC that typically looks like glue. THC concentrate can be infused into almost anything you want, though, so the way it looks on its own might not apply to your situation. 

In general, concentrates are more than ninety percent THC, whereas the most potent strains of cannabis are around thirty percent. This is a warning: don't do too much.

Having a concentrate makes it easy to get high quickly and effectively, but it's also possible to slip up and get a little too high if you're not careful.

Which Method Is The Best?

The only way you find out how you'd like to consume THC is to explore your various options. Some people find that smoking doesn't agree with them, and that's fine! Edibles, candies, concentrates, and oils are all great options for those who don't want to smoke. 

When you work with concentrates or oils, there's a good chance that you can put some droplets into a meal and experience the effects just the same. 

Want to Learn More about Cannabis?

So, what is THC? It's a complicated minor cannabinoid that opens up many opportunities for healing, enjoyment, and relaxation. There's a lot more to learn about it, though, and we're here to help you on your way. 

Please explore our site for insight into the cannabis industry, cannabis products, THC variations, and much more. 

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