What is THC?
Δ-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is the most important and the most abundant psychoactivecomponent of cannabis. The non-psychoactive varieties, such as hemp, must have a percentage of THC below 1%, according to the international regulations. The percentage of THC in psychoactive plants depends on the growing conditions, it can range from very low concentration levels to over 25%.
As detected in numerous samples, the potency has increased over the past few decades. In the early 1990s, the average THC content in analysed samples was less than 3.7%, in 2014 it was more than 6.1%, and in 2018 has increased to 15%.
The chemical structure in THC is very similar to the brain chemical anandamide, this is the reason why allows drugs to be recognized by the body and to alter normal brain communication.
Marihuana produces a very interesting and vast range of phytochemicals. Such as the small crystalline structures on the surface of the buds known as trichomes, which work very hard to synthesise more than 100 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes. Mos of these cannabinoids are unique to Cannabis sativa.
THC or CBD are the cannabinoids most widely known. But there is a new non-psychoactive cannabinoid, Cannabigerol (CBG), known as the mother of all cannabinoids. Experts believe there are numerous potential CBG health benefits. Despite the limitations in scientific studies, the existing research shows promising results for various health conditions.
We are talking about naturally produced cannabinoids in the marijuana plants. But there are other cannabinoids, the synthetic ones, these are similar to the chemicals found in the cannabis plant. Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). Which are unregulated mind-altering substances, their effects can be unpredictable and even dangerous. These substances are available on the market. Some of these have been around for years but have come back in altered chemical forms.
THC, THCV, THCVA are almost the same, but not similar
The second most important cannabinoid of THC is THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin). This version has a mild psychotropic effect and that is why people don’t have the associated anxiety, like they may with THC. It’s found mostly in the sativa strains and it can produce feelings of euphoria and alertness. THCV can also act as an appetite suppressant. It can control the blood sugar for type 2 diabetics, according to the study on Nutrition and Diabetes Journal.
Under the right conditions THCVA can turn into THCV. The THCVA cannabinoid is a final byproduct of CBGVA (cannabigerovarin acid). When CBGV converts to THCVA and it’s exposed to heat or light, it can turns into THCV. According to Ionization Labs: “THCVA is created when geranyl pyrophosphate bonds with divorinolic acid instead of olivetolic acid and it forms CBGA, which breaks down into THCVA by a process of THCV synthase.”
Who is Raphael Mechoulam?
Raphael Mechoulam is a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Throughouthis years of scientific work, he has contributed significantly to the science of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system as we know it nowadays, among those unprecedented contributions are: isolation and synthesis of THC and identification of the endocannabinoid system.
His work has brought him with many awards, such as the Israel Prize in 2000, NIDA Discovery Award in 2011 and many others. His life and work are discussed in the documentary film “The Scientist”, also available in stream.
Therapeutic properties of THC
THC is also well known for its therapeutic properties. Some of the recent research show evidences about these properties, some of these are:
- muscle relaxant
- antiemetic and antinausea
- orexigenic (appetite stimulant)
- reduces cravings for alcohol and other drugs.
Nowadays, there are numerous studies focused on the treatment of cancer using THC in combination with other cannabinoids, these have shown antitumour effects in animal testing. Some studies on humans are being conducted at universities in Israel and the UK. There have also been several studies on the therapeutic potential of THC in Alzheimer, due to its neuroprotective effects. The most known therapeutic applications for THC are to treat multiple sclerosis and severe spasticity, administered with a THC | CBD ratio of 1:1, mainly for patients who have not experienced favourable results with other anti-spastic treatments.