What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is an organic chemical compound known as a cannabinoid which is found within the Cannabis sativa plant species. You are probably already familiar with the two most well-known plants within the Cannabis sativa species, marijuana and hemp. While hemp is very low in THC (less than 0.3%), marijuana is generally very rich in THC. As a result of the naturally small amount of THC in hemp, it is very often the preferred plant from which to extract CBD.
THC, first isolated in 1964, is most well known for its psychoactive side effects when smoked, vaporised or eaten, which is caused by the THC molecules binding to the CB1 receptors within our Endocannabinoid System. Some of the other side effects from THC include a potential increase in appetite (often referred to as “the munchies”) and short term impairment of memory (for example, standing in front of the fridge for a minute wondering why you are there before remembering you have the munchies!).
Back in 1961, it was thought that there was no accepted medical use for cannabis, and the plant carried a high potential for abuse. As a result, marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic due to its psychoactive THC content.
Fortunately for us, modern medicine and common sense have shown both of these archaic claims to be false. Over the last few years, cannabis has been legalised for both medicinal and recreational uses, across multiple countries including some European countries, most US states and Canada.
Due to the legalisation, extensive research within the medical cannabis sector is well underway and has been yielding some very positive results for many years already.
Although historically THC has been used primarily for recreational purposes, in controlled doses it is linked as a possible treatment for several medical conditions. In 2009, the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management published a study on the effects of both THC:CBD and THC extracts on patients with “intractable cancer-related pain”. Subjects were randomised, and the results compare against a group that had all been given placebos. The results were significant. The THC:CBD extract group saw an overall 30% reduction in pain!
A study published in 2001 and another study published in 2016 found Dronabinol, a synthetic THC drug that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that “cannabinoids have been used effectively for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting since 1985”.
In 2018, a systematic review of cannabinoids for treating multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms found that there is “evidence to indicate benefits of treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis”. The researchers also included that cannabis use did not include the risk of adverse side effects.
It’s still early days when you compare medical cannabis to other already established drug and treatment programs. However, the evidence so far is very positive, which has encouraged further research in this fascinating field of medicine.