THC is the abbreviation for Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and is probably the most well-known cannabinoid in hemp. It is highly psychoactive and classified as a narcotic in most countries. THC is considered to be the most well-studied cannabinoid – we also have it to thank for the discovery of the human endocannabinoid system. You can find it in various strains, including Kurvana’s jet fuel strain. In this article, we will help you understand everything about this cannabis compound.
What is the difference between THC and THCA?
In the living hemp plant, THC occurs almost exclusively – namely up to a proportion of 90% – in the form of an acid called THCA. THCA is the natural precursor to THC. Only through storage, UV radiation, fermentation, or targeted heating is the acid group separated from the THCA molecule, and psychoactive THC is formed.
The process of this conversion is called decarboxylation. It happens, for example, when smoking or vaporizing plant material. That’s why people smoke cannabis and don’t eat it!
However, if THC is heated too long or too high, the THC oxidizes to CBN (cannabinol).
What effects does THC have?
THC has a similar chemical structure to anandamide, an important messenger substance that our body can produce, and that plays a major role in controlling mood, sleep, appetite, memory, etc. Anandamide is a so-called endocannabinoid and docks onto special receptors to fulfill its function. Two types of these cannabinoid receptors are currently known: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
The exact processes within the highly complex endocannabinoid system in humans have not yet been clarified, but THC can dock directly to both types of receptors and therefore seems to have effects in a particularly large number of different areas.
CB1 receptors are predominantly located in the central nervous system. Our body uses them to control pain, feelings of happiness, relaxation, motor skills, and learning, among other things. If THC docks to the CB1 receptors instead of an endogenous endocannabinoid, the commands are “falsified.” Since a particularly large number of these receptors can be found in the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and hippocampus, it can be explained why THC can work in our brain at all.
THC could also affect your immune system because there are a particularly large number of CB2 receptors to which THC can also dock. In any case, THC seems to work from the central nervous system to the psyche to digestion and the immune system.
The following modes of action were observed, among others:
- intensification of perception
- increase in concentration
- muscle relaxant
- dilation of the blood vessels
- increase in heart rate
- Lowering of intraocular pressure
However, the effect seems to vary from person to person and can sometimes have the opposite effect. This seems to depend on the dose consumed and whether the THC comes from a sativa or indica strain plant. It is currently believed that the terpene profile of each strain influences how THC works.
What happens with a THC overdose?
While a THC overdose is not fatal to humans, consuming too much THC can be quite uncomfortable. The possible symptoms range from tiredness, dizziness, and coordination disorders to tachycardia, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
How long does THC work, and how long is THC detectable?
While the noticeable effect of tetrahydrocannabinol wears off within a few hours, the detectability is very different: THC is broken down and excreted relatively slowly by the human body. Whether cannabis is used once or regularly, THC or its breakdown products can be detected in blood and urine for a few days to a few weeks.