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What exactly IS THC?

Let's talk about what THC really means.

Shorthand for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the main component found in marijuana responsible for the psychoactive effects when consumed. That "high" feeling you get when using or smoking marijuana is due to THC and a few other cannabinoid components found in the plant.

THC itself is a cannabinoid, a category of chemicals that can interact with your body's endocannabinoid system, the internal system used for the body's nervous system to communicate between nerve cells. When THC attaches to these nerve cells, their signals get altered to produce the "high" effect you experience when smoking.

What forms of THC are there?

THC is commonly smoked as marijuana, but there are numerous other methods of use available. The following are a few examples of THC products available:

  • Oral Ingestion: For a longer-lasting effect, oral ingestion is highly recommended. While edibles take longer to have their desired effect, their effects last longer than inhalation methods. Oral applications come in tinctures, oils, edibles, and capsules.

  • Inhalation: The fastest method of delivery, smoking produces the quickest psychoactive effects, usually within minutes. Inhalation can be accomplished by smoking, dabbing, or vaping. Vaping, however, has been linked with possible lung conditions, warranting further studies.

  • Sublingual application: Lozenges and sprays also exist, as well as dissolvable strips, which are placed under your tongue for application.

  • Topical application: THC can also be made into lotions, salves, balms, bath salts, and oils that are applied to the skin. Their effects are typically localized, limiting the possibility of any psychoactive effects.

CBD Products and Their Uses

CBD is another compound that's in marijuana. CBD has risen in popularity lately due to its ability to help with pain. CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, usually around 0.3 to 0.9% total.

CBD has another benefit over THC since CBD is legal in most states. Products containing more than 0.3% of THC can only be sold in states where marijuana has been legalized.

Uses for Recreational and Medicinal

With recent legalization spreading into more states, the use of marijuana in recreational scenes has risen. This has also increased the number of different types of products available. This can be seen in the increasing variety of edible and drink products containing THC. This has also carried over into medicinal products, making it easy for anyone consuming THC to drink and unwind.

Edibles and oils have seen the most increase in product expansion recently. Inhalation products have also seen an increase in popularity and variety. From different types of pipes to different styles and methods of vaping, there are a variety of changes happening to THC products. This can also be seen in the number of strains being grown for sale at medicinal and recreational dispensaries. Different strains of marijuana produce different effects when consumed.

What benefits are there for using marijuana?

There are a wide variety of benefits and uses for marijuana. From improving sleep to helping with your anxiety or depression, THC itself has a wide range of medical uses. Here is a short list of 5 of the most common benefits of THC use:

  • Improves Sleep: Getting a good night's sleep is important for the body. However, sleep can often be hard to obtain when you have medical problems. Studies have shown that THC helps improve sleeping and reduce disturbances that would wake you.

  • Prevents Nausea: THC has been used to help prevent nausea for chemotherapy patients for over 30 years. There are two THC-containing medications (Nabilone and Dronabinol) that have been available to chemo patients to help reduce nausea and improve diets.

  • Alleviates Pain: Chronic pain can be severely hindering. It's the most common reason for people to seek out medical marijuana. Recent studies have shown a significant increase in pain improvement when using marijuana products.

  • Reduces Muscle Spasms: For someone suffering from muscle spasms, such as paraplegics and patients with multiple sclerosis. THC has been found to modestly reduce spasms in muscles.

  • Helps With Anxiety/Depression: Depression and anxiety can be crippling to anyone suffering from them. THC has been shown to help with both anxiety and depression when using the right strain of marijuana and dosage.

How long will THC stay in the body?

THC builds up in your system the more you use it. The more frequently you use THC, the longer it will remain in your body. THC can generally be detected in infrequent users for up to one to three days after use. For chronic users of THC, expect it to be in your body for 30 days or more, depending on your consumption.

Method of consumption also plays a huge role in how long THC will stay in the body. Edibles, for example, require longer processing times than inhalation methods. THC consumed from edibles will stay in the system longer than THC from smoking or vaping.

Which method is best for you?

While it's common for people to tell you to just do a little research before deciding, it's often best if you talk to someone who has experience with medical or recreational marijuana at a dispensary. This can give you first-hand knowledge and experience from someone that can answer any questions you may have.

Always be careful when consuming marijuana in any method, as they all have different risks inherent to them. Vaping, for instance, can lead to lung issues according to some studies. Prolonged smoking of marijuana can also lead to some types of health issues associated with chronic smoking.

THC also has an addictive factor that affects a small percentage of the population. Continual use can increase this risk. While THC doesn't have a risk factor for lethal overdose, consumption of large doses can lead to uncomfortable side effects like severe anxiety, paranoia, and nausea.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're a recreational or medicinal user, there are benefits and downsides to THC usage that you should consider before using it. While most people don't experience it, THC can be addictive when abused. It's always smart to get as much information as you can before trying any product. Talk to your local dispensary to find out more about the various products and benefits of THC.

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