Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9 THC), is the most well-known, most documented, and (most often) the most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis. This is the psychoactive component known to produce euphoria, which is more often described as the feeling of being “high". THC binds primarily to the receptors found throughout the brain. Research has shown THC to work to reduce or even eliminate pain, nausea, and stress while also helping to stimulate the appetite and combat insomnia. In high doses, THC may cause some patients to feel paranoia or an increased heart rate, but these adverse effects will subside with time.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) was first discovered and isolated by Bulgarian-born chemist Raphael Mechoulam in Israel in 1964. It was found that, when smoked, tetrahydrocannabinol is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, attaching itself to the naturally-occurring endocannabinoid receptors located in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. These are the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and movement.
In accordance with Federal regulations, the concentration of Δ9-THC in hemp and CBD products must be less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis (as a percentage of finished product weight). Most full spectrum hemp products do contain a minute amount of THC (less than 0.3%), which may be enough to appear on a drug test, but not nearly enough for most adult humans to feel a euphoric effect.
When you smoke or ingest THC products, the THC travels into the bloodstream and eventually binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout your body. These receptor sites affect memory, concentration, pleasure, coordination, sensory and time perception, appetite and many more important functions.
THC is a lipophilic molecule and may bind non-specifically to a variety of entities in the brain and body, such as adipose tissue (fat). THC, as well as other cannabinoids that contain a phenol group, possess mild antioxidant activity sufficient to protect neurons against oxidative stress, such as that produced by glutamate-induced excitotoxicity.
THC targets receptors in a manner far less selective than endocannabinoid molecules released during retrograde signaling, as the drug has a relatively low cannabinoid receptor affinity. THC is also limited in its efficacy compared to other cannabinoids due to its partial agonistic activity, as THC appears to result in greater downregulation of cannabinoid receptors than endocannabinoids. Furthermore, in populations of low cannabinoid receptor density, THC may even act to antagonize endogenous agonists that possess greater receptor efficacy. However while THC's pharmacodynamic tolerance may limit the maximal effects of certain drugs, evidence suggests that this tolerance mitigates undesirable effects, thus enhancing the drug's therapeutic window.
- Cannabinoids 101
- The Endocannabinoid System
- The Entourage Effect
- About Cannabidiol (CBD)
- About Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDa)
- About Cannabigerol (CBG)
- About Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGa)
- About Cannabinol (CBN)
- About Cannabichromene (CBC)
- About Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- About Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
- About Terpenes & Terpenoids
THC Clinical Research
Clinical and Preclinical Evidence for Functional Interactions of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol
Douglas L Boggs, Jacques D Nguyen, Daralyn Morgenson, Michael A Taffe, Mohini Ranganathan | Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews (2018) 43, 142–154 | Full Text Article
The plant Cannabis sativa, commonly called cannabis or marijuana, has been used for its psychotropic and mind-altering side effects for millennia. There has been growing attention in recent years on its potential therapeutic efficacy as municipalities and legislative bodies in the United States, Canada, and other countries grapple with enacting policy to facilitate the use of cannabis or its constituents for medical purposes. There are 4550 chemical compounds and 4100 phytocannabinoids isolated from cannabis, including Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is thought to produce the main psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD does not appear to have similar effects. Studies conflict as to whether CBD attenuates or exacerbates the behavioral and cognitive effects of THC. This includes effects of CBD on THC-induced anxiety, psychosis, and cognitive deficits. In this article, we review the available evidence on the pharmacology and behavioral interactions of THC and CBD from preclinical and human studies, particularly with reference to anxiety and psychosis-like symptoms. Both THC and CBD, as well as other cannabinoid molecules, are currently being evaluated for medicinal purposes, separately and in combination. Future cannabis-related policy decisions should include consideration of scientific findings, including the individual and interactive effects of CBD and THC.
Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol alone and combined with cannabidiol mitigate fear memory through reconsolidation disruption
Cristina A.J.Stern, Lucas Gazarini, Ana C.Vanvossen, Antonio W.Zuardi, Ismael Galve-Roperh, Francisco S. Guimaraes, Reinaldo N.Takahashi, Leandro J.Bertoglio | European Neuropsychopharmacology Volume 25, Issue 6, June 2015, Pages 958-965 | Full Text
Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the major constituents of the Cannabis sativa plant, which is frequently consumed by subjects exposed to life-threatening situations to relief their symptomatology. It is still unknown, however, whether THC could also affect the maintenance of an aversive memory formed at that time when taken separately and/or in conjunction with CBD. The present study sought to investigate this matter at a preclinical level. We report that THC (0.3–10 mg/kg, i.p.) was able to disrupt the reconsolidation of a contextual fear memory, resulting in reduced conditioned freezing expression for over 22 days. This effect was dependent on activation of cannabinoid type-1 receptors located in prelimbic subregion of the medial prefrontal cortex and on memory retrieval/reactivation. Since CBD may counteract the negative psychotropic effects induced by THC and has been shown to be a reconsolidation blocker, we then investigated and demonstrated that associating sub-effective doses of these two compounds was equally effective in attenuating fear memory maintenance in an additive fashion and in a dose ratio of 10 to 1, which contrasts with that commonly found in C. sativa recreational samples. Of note, neither THC alone nor CBD plus THC interfered with anxiety-related behaviors and locomotor activity, as assessed in the elevated plus-maze test, at a time point coinciding with that used to evaluate their effects on memory reconsolidation. Altogether, present findings suggest a potential therapeutic value of using THC and/or CBD to mitigate a dysfunctional aversive memory through reconsolidation disruption in post-traumatic stress disorder patients.
A tale of two cannabinoids: The therapeutic rationale for combining tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol
Ethan Russo, Geoffrey W. Guy | August 18, 2005 | Medical Hypothesis | Full Text Article
This study examines the current knowledge of physiological and clinical effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and presents a rationale for their combination in pharmaceutical preparations. Cannabinoid and vanilloid receptor effects as well as non-receptor mechanisms are explored, such as the capability of THC and CBD to act as anti-inflammatory substances independent of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) inhibition. CBD is demonstrated to antagonise some undesirable effects of THC including intoxication, sedation and tachycardia, while contributing analgesic, anti-emetic, and anti-carcinogenic properties in its own right. In modern clinical trials, this has permitted the administration of higher doses of THC, providing evidence for clinical efficacy and safety for cannabis based extracts in treatment of spasticity, central pain and lower urinary tract symptoms in multiple sclerosis, as well as sleep disturbances, peripheral neuropathic pain, brachial plexus avulsion symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis and intractable cancer pain. Prospects for future application of whole cannabis extracts in neuroprotection, drug dependency, and neoplastic disorders are further examined. The hypothesis that the combination of THC and CBD increases clinical efficacy while reducing adverse events is supported.