What is THC? Everything You Need to Know

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According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, it’s estimated that the daily consumption of cannabis in 2013 was at 8.1 million – a significant rise from 5.1 million in 2005-2007.

Many people used it as a recreational drug thanks to its high THC content.

But what is THC? What does it do? And does it really come with a psychoactive effect or is it just a mere hype? Here’s everything you need to know.

what is THC
What is THC? Everything You Need to Know

What is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?

Cannabis has at least 120 known active compounds (cannabinoids). The most abundant ones are THC and CBD. THC is found in the resin of the female cannabis flower. In its original form, THC appears as an acid (C₂₁H₃₀O₂), with a molecular mass of 314.464 g/mol., and comes with a psychoactive effect. Male cannabis plants have an insignificant amount of THC, not enough to get you high.

These cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa have secondary metabolites that serve to boost your internal immune system.

How Does THC Work?

Once in your bloodstream, THC reaches your brain in seconds and you may start feeling its effects. Your brain contains groups of cannabinoid receptors in different parts (including the basal ganglia, hippocampus, and cerebellum). These cannabinoid receptors affect physical and mental activities including coordination, short-term memory, problem-solving, and learning.

THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors which activate neurons, causing diverse effects on the mind and body including short-term memory, coordination, and unconscious muscle movements. These physiological changes bring out the psychoactive “high.”

Top Benefits and Uses of THC

THC does not only make you high it also comes with some major health benefits, including:

1. Chronic Pain Relief

THC has been shown to help alleviate chronic pain. According to a 2019 clinical study, there was relief for different types of pain in more than 95% of THC administration sessions. This confirms that the compound is a safe and effective pain medication.

2. Improved Appetite

If you’re having problems with your appetite, a small dose of THC can help stimulate it. This is especially important for people who suffer from chronic appetite loss such as cancer therapy patients.

3. Good Source of Antioxidant

THC and other cannabinoids in cannabis are rich in antioxidants that can protect your body cells from free radicals. These free radicals are produced when the body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to radiation or smoke. They may cause cancer, heart diseases, and other chronic diseases.

4. Better Sleep

The THC present in Cannabis indica can help you sleep better. This can help people with severe insomnia. Even better, unlike other sleep meds, THC doesn’t come with harmful side effects to your health or moods.

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

Contrary to popular belief, CBD and THC are not the same thing. To understand these two cannabis compounds better, let’s looks at some of their main benefits and differences.


Both THC and CBD have the same molecular structure (21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, 2 oxygen atoms). The chemical structure is similar to the body’s endocannabinoids which allows them to interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors. This interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters that are responsible for relaying messages between cells to provide relief from pain, stress, insomnia, and more.

Psychoactive Effects

Even though both compounds have an identical chemical structure, they have opposing psychoactive effects. This means that CBD is non-psychoactive – it doesn’t make you high. It actually minimizes the psychoactive effects of THC.

THC binds with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors to give you the euphoria sensation. CBD, on the other hand, binds weakly with these receptors. On the contrary, it interferes with the THC binding process, dampening the psychoactive effects.


In America, cannabis and THC are still considered as controlled substances by the federal law. However, many states have passed various laws allowing the medical use of high-level THC cannabis. This should be prescribed by a licensed physician. Some states have gone the extra step to make the recreational use of cannabis legal.

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation and use are legal as long as it contains THC concentrations of 0.3% and below. Before buying any THC product, it’s recommended to first check with your state’s cannabis laws to avoid unnecessary fines and penalties.

Health Benefits

As stated above, THC can help with pain relief, improved appetite, and better sleep. THC and CBD have many similar health benefits. However, many people prefer CBD because it doesn’t come with the euphoric side effect. CBD is known to treat a range of conditions including inflammation, seizures, mental disorders, pain, nausea, depression, nausea, and anxiety.

What are the Side Effects of THC?

Consuming THC alters with your normal body functions. There are a handful of side effects that go hand-in-hand with these effects. Besides being mild, not everyone may experience these effects.

The following side effects are experienced for nearly 3 hours after inhaling or ingesting THC:

  • A sense of extra energy and uplift
  • Relaxation and euphoria
  • Pain relief, drowsiness, and dizziness
  • Dry mouth and red, dry eyes
  • Increased heart rate

Once the THC has worn off from your bloodstream, you can get back to normal.

When you take THC through smoking, you’ll start feeling the psychoactive effects in a few minutes. However, this feeling will wear off quickly. On the other hand, when you take it through ingestion, the effects may take longer to kick in, but last longer. The timeframe will generally depend on your body’s metabolism – so it’s not the same for everyone.

Get to Know More About THC

Hopefully, you can now differentiate between CBD and THC. Research is still been done on the effects of THC. As we learn more about its potential, one thing is certain – this cannabinoid is more than its psychoactive effects. Have you had your dose of THC?

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what is THC
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