Cannabinoid Profile: THC

By Mitchell Colbert

THC

Formula: C21H30O2Molecular Mass: 314.2246g/mol

Decarboxylation Point: 94-145 °C (200-293 °F)Boiling Point: 157 °C (315 °F)

LD50 (Lethal Dose):LD50 could not be determined in either rhesus monkeys or dogs as single oral doses of up to 9000 mg/kg of either delta-8- or delta-9-THC in dogs or monkeys were non-lethal.” (Compare to Nicotine: for mice – 3mg/kg for humans – 40–60 mg/kg)

 

While Δ9-THC is the most common cannabinoid in most cured cannsbis sold in stores, it is not the only THC in cannabis; it is joined by THCa, THCv, and Δ8-THC, as well as a slew of other cannabinoids, including CBD and CBN. Δ9-THC is the primary psychoactive compound that has been identified in the cannabis plant, though other trace cannabinoids are psychoactive, and others, like CBD, modulate how THC effects the body. THCv and CBN have both been shown to be psychoactive, while THCa is non-psychoactive (like CBD). Δ9-THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the famed munchies that cannabis users speak of. By an ironic twist of fate, THCv, a chemical relative to THC, is being researched as an appetite suppressant. THC is the result of THCa decarboxylation, as THCa loses carbon molecules it becomes THC and becomes psychoactive. Eventually this same chemical process will cause the THC to break down further into CBN, retaining some of its psychoactive qualities but losing much of its medicinal value.

 

cannabinoid-process-chart

Therapeutic Uses

Analgesic – Relieves pain.

Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.

Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.

Antioxidant – Prevents the damage of oxidation to other molecules in the body.

Antispasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.

Anxiolitic – While not fully recognized as an anxiolitic compound THC does seem to assist in the anxiety associated with PTSD.

Appetite Stimulant – Δ9-THC is the only cannabinoid identified that is an appetite stimulant, giving people the stereotypical “munchies” many users describe.

Euphoriant – Produces feelings of euphoria, promotes happiness and relaxation.

Neuroprotective – Slows damage to the nervous system and brain.

 

Steephill Chart

 

Currently Being Studied For

Anorexia Nervosa/Cachexia: THC has shown great promise in reversing the weight loss associated with anorexia in studies on mice as well as humans. Even the synthetic cannabinoids dronabinol and marinol have been demonstrated to help with weight loss. While THC does stimulate one's appetite, a double-blind placebo controlled study found that these effects were not strong enough to make THC a potential treatment for cachexia or anorexia.

Cancer: THC was the first cannabinoid discovered that helped combat cancer, and since then it has been shown to halt the growth of tumors, and in some cases shrink them, through various methods not yet fully understood. In one recent case study, an infant suffering from a brain tumor experienced a 90% reduction in tumor size over a year of twice a day use of hemp oil. Veteran cancer researcher Donald Tashkin, in the largest controlled study of its kind, found that daily smoking of THC-rich cannabis resulted in lower instances of cancer than in the general population of nonsmokers! Think about it; all smoking causes cancer by creation of benzopyrene, but despite that THC is a strong enough anti-proliferative to prevent more cancer than the smoking causes. Fun Fact: Burning ANY organic matter creates benzopyrene. This means that barbeque, toast, and even grilled vegetables can give you cancer, but cannabis will not even if you burn it.

Chronic Pain: THC has been shown to have great prospect in treating chronic pain because it seems to change “the way the nerves function.” THC also has been studied heavily for its use in treating neuropathic pain, including the pain associated with HIV and cancer. Recent studies seem to agree that THC changes how we feel pain and makes it more bearable. It is not a pain killer in the sense that it reduces the amount of pain felt, instead it seems to raise an individual’s pain tolerance by distracting them from their pain. A 2015 study on neuropathy in diabetic patients found that THC “demonstrated a dose-dependent reduction in diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain.”

Glaucoma: Robert Randall, the first medical cannabis patient in American history, and the man responsible for the passage of the federal medical cannabis program back in the 70's, Compassionate Investigative New Drug Program, was using THC-rich cannabis to treat the intraocular pressure caused by his glaucoma until the day he died in 2001. A year after Randall died, a study in Pharmacology and Therapeutics was the first to find cannabinoid receptors in the eyes, giving some hints to THC's effectiveness on glaucoma. Then in 2004, a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology vindicated years of personal anecdotes and found that THC does reduce intraocular pressure, but the mechanism of action is still not fully understood. While most testing on cannabis use focus on smoking, a 2006 study on cannabis use and glaucoma looked at sublingual cannabis use. That study found that 5mg of THC administered sublingually reduced eye pressure without many side effects, the same study found that CBD either did nothing or worsened the eye pressure.

HIV/AIDS: Aside from assisting with the pain and nausea that often are associated with HIV/AIDS, THC directly fights the virus in unique ways that have only recently been identified. A 2012 study shows THC assisting in HIV treatment by its activation of CB2 receptors and CD4 receptors. Cannabis affects our body by interacting with our endocannabinoid system, the CB2 and CD4 receptors are a part of that system. A study from earlier this year expands on the role of THC in combating HIV through its activation of CB2 receptors.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Recent research has shown THC to be a powerful treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, possibly due to it's ability to help people forget. This forgetting can include forgetting about trauma that should be let go of, so the individual can heal and move forward. THC is a plant version of the endo-cannabinoid Anandamide, which has also been shown to be crucial in treating PTSD. Now, a host of scientists, including the award-winning researcher Sue Sisley, are conducting research into THC's ability to help treat PTSD. Dr. Sisley has gained much attention after Dr. Sanjay Gupta covered her PTSD research in his CNN special, Weed III. Research by Dr. George Greer in New Mexico has shown that THC-rich cannabis can reduce symptoms of PTSD by 75% on average. A 2011 study from the University of Halfa demonstrated that marijuana, notably THC, can help mitigate the onset of PTSD if taken after a traumatic event.

Gastrointestinal Inflammation:THC lowers the incidence of blockages and other gastrointestinal inflammation associated with use of NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs. THC “protects against diclofenac-induced gastric inflammatory tissue damage at doses insufficient to cause common cannabinoid side effects.” A recent survey of Irritable Bowel Disorder sufferers found that 1/6 use THC-rich cannabis to treat the inflammation.

 

 

While Δ9-THC is the most common cannabinoid in most cured cannsbis sold in stores, it is not the only THC in cannabis; it is joined by THCa, THCv, and Δ8-THC, as well as a slew of other cannabinoids, including CBD and CBN. Δ9-THC is the primary psychoactive compound that has been identified in the cannabis plant, though other trace cannabinoids are psychoactive, and others, like CBD, modulate how THC effects the body. THCv and CBN have both been shown to be psychoactive, while THCa is non-psychoactive (like CBD). Δ9-THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the famed munchies that cannabis users speak of. By an ironic twist of fate, THCv, a chemical relative to THC, is being researched as an appetite suppressant (more on that in a future blog). THC is the result of THCa decarboxylation, as THCa loses carbon molecules it becomes THC and becomes psychoactive. Eventually this same chemical process will cause the THC to break down further into CBN, retaining some of its psychoactive qualities but losing much of its medicinal value.

THC

Therapeutic Uses

Analgesic – Relieves pain.

Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.

Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.

Antioxidant – Prevents the damage of oxidation to other molecules in the body.

Antispasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.

Anxiolitic – While not fully recognized as an anxiolitic compound THC does seem to assist in the anxiety associated with PTSD.

Appetite Stimulant – Δ9-THC is the only cannabinoid identified that is an appetite stimulant, giving people the stereotypical “munchies” many users describe.

Euphoriant – Produces feelings of euphoria, promotes happiness and relaxation.

Neuroprotective – Slows damage to the nervous system and brain.

Currently Being Studied For

Anorexia Nervosa/Cachexia: THC has shown great promise in reversing the weight loss associated with anorexia in studies on mice as well as humans. Even the synthetic cannabinoids dronabinol and marinol have been demonstrated to help with weight loss. While THC does stimulate one's appetite, a double-blind placebo controlled study found that these effects were not strong enough to make THC a potential treatment for cachexia or anorexia.

Cancer: THC was the first cannabinoid discovered that helped combat cancer, and since then it has been shown to halt the growth of tumors, and in some cases shrink them, through various methods not yet fully understood. In one recent case study, an infant suffering from a brain tumor experienced a 90% reduction in tumor size over a year of twice a day use of hemp oil. Veteran cancer researcher Donald Tashkin, in the largest controlled study of its kind, found that daily smoking of THC-rich cannabis resulted in lower instances of cancer than in the general population of nonsmokers! Think about it; all smoking causes cancer by creation of benzopyrene, but despite that THC is a strong enough anti-proliferative to prevent more cancer than the smoking causes. Fun Fact: Burning ANY organic matter creates benzopyrene. This means that barbeque, toast, and even grilled vegetables can give you cancer, but cannabis will not even if you burn it.

Chronic Pain: THC has been shown to have great prospect in treating chronic pain because it seems to change “the way the nerves function.” THC also has been studied heavily for its use in treating neuropathic pain, including the pain associated with HIV and cancer. Recent studies seem to agree that THC changes how we feel pain and makes it more bearable. It is not a pain killer in the sense that it reduces the amount of pain felt, instead it seems to raise an individual’s pain tolerance by distracting them from their pain. A 2015 study on neuropathy in diabetic patients found that THC “demonstrated a dose-dependent reduction in diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain.”

HIV/AIDS: Aside from assisting with the pain and nausea that often are associated with HIV/AIDS, THC directly fights the virus in unique ways that have only recently been identified. A 2012 study shows THC assisting in HIV treatment by its activation of CB2 receptors and CD4 receptors. Cannabis affects our body by interacting with our endocannabinoid system, the CB2 and CD4 receptors are a part of that system. A study from earlier this year expands on the role of THC in combating HIV through its activation of CB2 receptors.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Recent research has shown THC to be a powerful treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, possibly due to it's ability to help people forget. This forgetting can include forgetting about trauma that should be let go of, so the individual can heal and move forward. THC is a plant version of the endo-cannabinoid Anandamide, which has also been shown to be crucial in treating PTSD. Now, a host of scientists, including the award-winning researcher Sue Sisley, are conducting research into THC's ability to help treat PTSD. Dr. Sisley has gained much attention after Dr. Sanjay Gupta covered her PTSD research in his CNN special, Weed III. Research by Dr. George Greer in New Mexico has shown that THC-rich cannabis can reduce symptoms of PTSD by 75% on average. A 2011 study from the University of Halfa demonstrated that marijuana, notably THC, can help mitigate the onset of PTSD if taken after a traumatic event.

Gastrointestinal Inflammation:THC lowers the incidence of blockages and other gastrointestinal inflammation associated with use of NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs. THC “protects against diclofenac-induced gastric inflammatory tissue damage at doses insufficient to cause common cannabinoid side effects.” A recent survey of Irritable Bowel Disorder sufferers found that 1/6 use THC-rich cannabis to treat the inflammation.

By Mitchell Colbert

This post first appeared on The Leaf Online, June 10th, 2014, but has been updated with new information about THC.

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