What Is THC? Tetrahydrocannabinol

Get to Know Tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC

Cannabis contains approximately 60 different psychoactive chemicals called cannabinoid, of which the most important is THC. The component aka tetrahydrocannabinol is present in the resin produced by glands of cannabis plants. Isomer delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is considered to be the most active form, producing characteristic mood and associated perceptual changes. Like most pharmacological active secondary metabolites of plants, THC in cannabis is assumed to be involved in self-defense mechanism.

Mode of Action

THC’s effects come from binding to the cannabinoid receptors – CB1 in the central nervous system and CB2 in the immune system. Partial activation of CB1 leads to its psychoactive effects. These receptors are involved in a range of physiological functions, from memory retention to blood pressure, controlled by endocannabinoids. Strangely, though, these naturally occurring signalling molecules (endocannabinoids) bear a relatively little structural resemblance to THC – they are mostly derivatives of arachidonic acid (a long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid), whereas THC is an aromatic terpenoid containing three rings.

Uses of THC:

  • useful for treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
  • helps to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • helpful to patients having chemotherapy for cancer.
  • often used for glaucoma relief.
  • used to increase appetite in patients with AIDS symptoms.
  • can be utilized in the treatment of anorexia and other eating disorders.
  • used as prescription drugs in some countries.
  • relief of pain of multiple sclerosis.

Associated Risks with over-consumption: 

  • injury of thinking, problem solving and memory.
  • reduced balance and coordination.
  • increased risk of heart-attack.
  • heightened risk of chronic cough and respiratory infections.
  • potential for hallucinations and withdrawal symptoms.
  • contains carcinogenic hydrocarbons that can cause cancer of lungs.

How THC is formed?

Many factors influence THC production. The genetic constitution of the cannabis plant is the primary factor that determines THC levels. The older the plant, the higher the chances it will produce THC. Cannabis plants need proper amount and quality of light for the formation of THC. Hot temperatures are well known to promote metabolic activity and also the heat encourages higher resin secretion. Humidity is a significant factor for THC production. It is associated with induction of flowering resulting from the photoperiod change. During the maturity period of high-quality cannabis drug grown in dry areas, resin production increases with an increase in THC level. So, if you are looking for high THC in your grow room – hunt for pertinent cannabis strains and grow them under proper environmental conditions that promote higher THC levels. Also be sure to use premium base nutrients and supplements like aroma and resin enrichers to maximize the THC in you plants.

THC Derivatives and Pharmacology

For decades cannabis sativa and cannabis extracts have been used in natural medicine. Delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the core active constituent of cannabis. THC seems to be in charge for most of the pharmacological and therapeutic actions of cannabis.

Derivatives of THC

The FDA has approved quite a few cannabinoids for use as medical therapies:

  1. Dronabinol: Commercially known as Marinol, it is one of the few synthetic THC derivative approved for medical purposes in the USA in 1985; Dronabinol is a naturally occurring component of Cannabis sativa L and Sold as an oral medicine also available in Canada.
  2. Nabilone: Also present naturally in Cannabis sativa L., Nabilone is a synthetic cannabinoid sold under a trade name of ‘Cesamet.’ It is a racemic mixture containing within itself the equal amount of two ‘enantiomers.’ Nabilone appears to be a beneficial, well- tolerated treatment option for fibromyalgia
  3. Canasol: Cannabinoids have been indicated for the treatment of glaucoma- one of the most important causes of blindness in the world. Sold to glaucoma patients, it is available in the form of eye drops. Several Caribbean nations have made it available in their countries along with USA and Canada.
  4. Nabiximol: Know by its trade name Sativex, is a particular extract of Cannabis and marketed as a mouth spray to alleviate neuropathic pain, spasticity, overactive bladder, and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis; Developed by the UK firm it is available in many European, Asian, African and Middle East nation from 2011

Pharmacological effects of THC and its derivatives

THC’s effects come from binding to the cannabinoid receptors – CB1 in the central nervous system and CB2 in the immune system. Partial activation of CB1 leads to its psychoactive effects. These receptors are involved in a range of physiological functions, from memory retention to blood pressure, controlled by endocannabinoids. Strangely, though, these naturally occurring signaling molecules (endocannabinoids) bear a relatively little structural resemblance to THC – they are mostly derivatives of arachidonic acid ( a long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid), whereas THC is an aromatic terpenoid containing three rings.

Synthetic mimics of THC

In early 2000, a range of products such as ‘Spice’ and ‘K2’ was identified to contain synthetic cannabinoid that can mimic THC effects. Laboratory analysis of these herbal ‘smoking blends’ resulted in the identification of following compounds that mimic THC.

  1. Cannabicyclohexanol: Synthesized in 1979, this is one of the earliest identified ‘1,1 – dimethyl octyl homolog’ of CCH or CP 47,497; It is more potent than the parent compound, and a far superior substituent of cannabinoid complex such as HU-210.
  2. JWH-018: Identified in at least 3 version of Spice in 2010; it is an analgesic chemical form of naphthyl indole family. It shows similar effects of THC since it acts as a full agonist at both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
  3. HU-210: Found to be 100-800 time more potent than THC, it was first synthesized in 1988 from (1R,5S)-myrtenol. This synthetic cannabinoid is a powerful analgesic with similar effects as THC.
  4. JWH-073: A compound of naphthyl indole family, it acts as a partial agonist at both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors; giving it analgesic properties similar to that of THC.
  5. AM-694: Being sold as a designer drug, AM-694 is of a scientific use for mapping of CB1 receptor distribution. This is because of its affinity towards the receptor which makes it similar to THC in effect.
  6. AM-2201: Another compound from the AM series of cannabinoids. It is a non-selective full agonist for the cannabinoid receptors, however more potent and similar in effect to THC.
  7. RCS-4: sold under the names SR-19, BTM-4, or Eric-4, it was initially identified as OBT-199. This is another synthetic cannabinoid which mimics the action of THC.
  8. JWH-210: With similar effects as THC, this is an analgesic chemical from naphthyl indole family. It is a potent agonist for CB1 and CB2 receptors, with a higher binding affinity towards CB1 receptor.
  9. JWH-081: Another compound from naphthyl indole family, it has analgesic properties similar to THC.
  10. JWH-250: This synthetic cannabinoid belongs to the phenyl acetyl indole family, acting as an analgesic chemical.
  11. JWH-203: Another cannabinoid agonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors, JWH-203 is of phenyl acetyl indole family and analgesic in effect.

So there you have it – an our opening thoughts on the age-old question “What is THC?”.

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