Cannabis produces THC for a variety of reasons. Learn more about why this happens and what it means for the plant.
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The Discovery of THC
THC is the main active ingredient in cannabis. It is a cannabinoid, which means it is one of a class of molecules that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC was first isolated in 1964 by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam.
The first documented instance of THC
The first documented instance of THC being used for its psychoactive effects was in 2737 BC by the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng. He claimed that cannabis tea could relieve fatigue, gout, and malaria.
How THC is Produced
THC is produced by the cannabis plant in order to protect itself from predators. UV light causes THC to be produced in higher quantities, which is why outdoor grown cannabis tends to be more potent than indoor grown cannabis. THC production also increases when the plant is stressed, which is why some growers will actually stress their plants before harvesting them.
The role of enzymes in THC production
In order for THC to be produced, certain enzymes must be present in the cannabis plant. These enzymes are responsible for catalyzing the reactions that convert cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) into THC.
There are three main enzymes that are involved in this process: THCA synthase, CBCA synthase, and CBLA synthase. THCA synthase is the most important enzyme for THC production, as it is responsible for converting CBGA into THCA. CBCA synthase and CBLA synthase then convert CBGA into CBCA and CBLA, respectively.
THC production also requires ample supplies of oxygen and carbon dioxide. These gases are necessary for the reactions that convert CBGA into THCA, CBCA, and CBLA.
It is important to note that THC production is a highly sensitive process. The presence of even trace amounts of other cannabinoids (such as CBD) can inhibit THC production. This is why it is essential to grow cannabis plants in environments that are free from contaminants.
The role of the endocannabinoid system in THC production
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors. The endocannabinoid system is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. In humans, the Endocannabinoid System consists of cannabinoid receptor proteins CB1 and CB2, their endogenous ligands — endocannabinoids, enzymes that synthesize and degrade endocannabinoids — and others.
The ECS plays a role in maintaining homeostasis in the body by modulating a number of processes including pain sensation, inflammation, appetite, metabolism, memory, mood, and immunity. One of the ways in which the ECS does this is by regulating the production of THC — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
THC is produced in the trichomes of the Cannabis plant. Trichomes are tiny outgrowths on the surface of the plant that function to protect it from predators and parasites. They also produce a range of compounds that are beneficial to humans, including cannabinoids like THC.
The Endocannabinoid System regulates THC production by modulating the activity of enzymes that synthesize it. When there is a deficiency in endocannabinoids or when they are not being used effectively by the body, THC production can increase to compensate. This increase in THC production may be one reason why cannabis can be effective for treating conditions like pain and inflammation — by increasing THC production, the body is able to more effectively modulate pain and inflammation response.
The Benefits of THC
THC is the main active ingredient in cannabis. It is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive properties. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which alters the neurotransmitter release. This can lead to changes in mood, perception, and behavior. THC has a number of therapeutic benefits as well.
THC and pain relief
There are many different chemicals in cannabis that can have different effects on the body. One of these chemicals is THC, which is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive properties. THC can work as an analgesic, or pain reliever, by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and reducing pain signals. This can be beneficial for people who suffer from chronic pain conditions. THC is also known to help reduce inflammation, which can further help to relieve pain.
THC and anxiety relief
While THC is most well-known for its psychoactive properties, it also has a number of potential medical applications, particularly when it comes to anxiety relief. THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating a variety of cognitive and physiological processes, including mood, appetite, pain perception, and memory.
THC strains can potentially help to alleviate anxiety by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that THC was able to reduce anxiety in people with social anxiety disorders. And a 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology found that THC may help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep in people with PTSD.
While more research is needed to determine the exact mechanisms by which THC may help to relieve anxiety, these studies suggest that THC may be a promising treatment option for those who suffer from anxiety disorders.
THC and appetite stimulation
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and it has a number of well-known effects, including making people feel relaxed and “high.” But THC also has some lesser-known effects, including stimulating appetite.
A 2012 study found that THC increased appetite in rats by activating the brain’s hunger-regulating system. This same system is also activated by other “appetite-stimulating” drugs, such as amphetamines.
THC may also stimulate appetite by promoting the release of the hunger-regulating hormone ghrelin. A 2013 study found that injecting rats with THC increased their levels of ghrelin.
So if you’re looking to gain weight, or just eat more while using cannabis, THC may be the culprit. Luckily, there are also many high-CBD strains of cannabis that won’t give you the munchies.