Beyond the High | An Exploration of THC and Its Therapeutic Uses
Within the first part of the 20th Century, the American consciousness was introduced to the “horrors” of cannabis; specifically, the effects caused by the psychoactive cannabinoid, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Through a combination of religious, political and moral campaigns, the elimination of cannabis – and the destruction of its popularity among medical and recreational users – became a top priority for many community leaders.
For the better part of the century, marijuana was placed on the shelf as a dangerously addictive substance. However, this vilification failed to sway the research community. It wasn’t until the 1960s that our current understanding of cannabis began to flourish. During the radicalization that took place in the 60s and 70s, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam began his controversial research into the realm of cannabis (3). It’s during this time THC was discovered.
This discovery sparked immense interest by both medical and ethical researchers. Throughout the following decades, our understanding of THC has literally altered the realm of medicine. Although we are still at the cusp of truly grasping the true potential of this potent cannabinoid, what has been uncovered has the entire world gasping at the possibilities for true health and healing.
Inside Cannabis | A Brief Glimpse Into THC
Delta-9-THC is the most abundant cannabinoid produced by marijuana; followed by the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD). Although there are over 60 cannabinoids and over 400 chemically-active compounds, research has only been conducted on THC and CBD due to their concentrations and therapeutic potential (2).
The psychoactive effects of THC are due to its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system, or ECS (4). This vast and complex network of identified CB-1 and CB-2 receptor sites interact with nearly every organ, tissue, system and even at the cellular level. The primary goal of cannabinoid receptor sites is to achieve and retain homeostasis, or balance, within the area or system it’s found in. This fundamental understanding forms the foundation of cannabis-based therapies. By triggering homeostasis via phytocannabinoid activation of CB-1 and CB-2 receptor sites, the body is capable of achieving a level of health and healing that would otherwise be unattainable.
Healing and Hope | The Therapeutic Value of THC
The full potential of THC-based treatments is currently unknown; however, what is known has changed the way the medical community views the treatment and management for a variety of health conditions. The following is a sampling of proven treatments with THC:
● Alzheimer’s Disease | Although our understanding is in its infancy, preliminary evidence has found THC inhibits and dissolves the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins within neurons. This protein is typically found on the nerve cells in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Therefore, by inhibiting its concentration, the neurological elements responsible for cognitive-based diseases may be completely eliminated (5)(6).
● Anxiety Disorders | The activation of CB-1 and CB-2 receptor sites within the brain via THC treatments have been shown to potentially decrease general levels of anxiety and other mood disorders. However, the dose must stay within the users therapeutic level as over-stimulation of CB-1 receptor sites may exacerbate anxiety symptoms (7).
● Pain Control | The introduction of THC within the human body shows potential to disrupt pain signals by activating CB-1 and CB-2 receptor sites. The inhibition of pain signaling produces significant pain relief – specifically neuropathic pain – without the negative consequences of common pharmaceutical pain killers (8).