THC: what is it and how does it work?

Most cannabis users are familiar with THC, what its psychoactive effects can cause, and what the potential side effects can be. However, an in-depth study is always important and can be useful to those who are approaching cannabis sativa for the first time, to those who want to know a little more and also to those who are looking for information to get an idea on an always much debated topic like that of the real effects of this all-natural psychotropic substance.

In this mini-guide, we will delve into various points on what can be considered the cannabinoid par excellence. Specifically we will see:

  • What is THC?
  • Who discovered THC?
  • Cannabis and THC: the varieties
  • Plants that contain THC
  • Effects of THC
  • Mitigate the effects of THC
  • The use of THC in medicine
  • THC and CBD
  • Eliminate THC from the body

Lands of cannabis

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol , THC for short, is one of the phytocannabinoids produced by cannabis sativa plants and also the most popular among cannabis consumers and lovers. This is because THC is the psychotropic substance that makes cannabis capable of causing psychoactive effects in those who take it.

In fact, as we know, there are different types of cannabinoids , some of which are completely devoid of psychoactive effects, such as CBD or CBG , the two cannabinoids at the basis of light cannabis.

THC can be considered the king of cannabinoids due to its popularity among consumers, but also a poor exile, victim of misunderstandings and controversies caused by its being considered a psychoactive substance and therefore dangerous on a par with decidedly heavier substances.

What is certain is that, as we will see, THC has been fundamental in the progress of scientific research , not only for its numerous therapeutic properties but also because thanks to studies on THC, we have come to know the presence of the cb1 receptor and of the other cannabinoid receptors present in our body.

THC, like CBD and CBG, is able to interact directly with both the cb1 receptor and other receptors produced by our body. This is what makes them capable of strengthening our immune system and combating various pathologies .

However, as cannabis consumers will know, if taken in excessive quantities, THC can have side effects, which are not serious but still avoidable.

CBD flower

Who discovered THC?

THC was discovered by Raphael Mechoulam , an Israeli doctor and researcher, who can rightly be considered the father of cannabis . Also known for having revealed to the scientific community the existence of the endocannabinoid system present in our organism, the system actually responsible for managing and regulating most of our physiological activities.

To tell the truth, Doctor Mechoulam made this discovery thanks to THC.

He began his studies starting from the belief that just as in his time, around 150 years earlier, it had been possible to isolate morphine from a psychoactive substance such as opium, one should also try to isolate the psychotropic substance contained in cannabis sativa plants.


In order for a scientific discovery to be made, it is necessary to look at things in depth. This is what Doctor Mechoulam thought, who dedicated many years of his career to identifying the structure of cannabis sativa and isolating its components.

In those same years there had been other research on cannabis, but the focus was mostly on side effects , in the wake of rampant prohibitionism. Furthermore, due to prohibition itself, it was quite complicated to find sufficient quantities of cannabis sativa to isolate the individual active ingredients.

Mechoulam, however, knew well that until he isolated the psychotropic substance, he would not know whether or not it had potential in the pharmacological field, a fact proven by the experience of morphine.

Once they managed to isolate THC, Mechoulam and his team realized that in addition to its psychoactive effects, THC was able to interact with certain receptors present in our body.

Hence the discovery of the cb1 receptor and other cannabinoid receptors, i.e. cannabinoids produced internally by our body and responsible for making our endocannabinoid system function correctly , which can be considered a kind of other immune system, responsible for regulating some of our main functions psychological including eating, sleeping, being hungry and even being happy.

Cannabis and THC: the varieties

There are numerous varieties of cannabis sativa , some that grow naturally in certain areas of the earth, others, more or less the majority now, the result of hybridizations and research between different strains.

Cannabis sativa varieties differ in color and shape , in terpene profile, therefore aroma and flavor, and in THC levels.

Some varieties have been created specifically to have very high THC levels, while still maintaining a balance given by the characteristics of the variety. Let's think for example of all Haze , Amnesia or Ak-47 .

The main difference between sativa cannabis varieties lies in the dominance of the strain , which can be sativa-dominant or indica-dominant. In the first case, the herb will have more euphoric psychoactive effects and tend towards activity and good mood. In the case of an indica dominance, the psychotropic substance can cause greater relaxation, but also more drowsiness, numbness and introspection.

The best varieties , those that have made the history of cannabis by winning numerous awards and remaining popular over time, are those that manage to balance the two strains well while maintaining THC levels within natural limits (20-22%).

Strains that exceed these THC levels are artificially produced and although they can provide a greater "high", they are also more likely to cause side effects.

The advice is to start by taking varieties with THC levels around 9, 12%, and then possibly increase gradually.

cannabis flower Plants that contain THC

Among the different varieties of cannabis that grow in nature, most contain moderate or high levels of THC, which can reach up to 22% and in some cases something more.

Plants grown for therapeutic purposes, however, contain THC levels that can reach up to 19%.

Non-legal weed, which can be found on the street or from trusted people, will contain THC levels that can range from 4 to 30-40% . It all depends on the seeds and the cannabis strain.

Unfortunately, at the moment in Italy it is not possible to grow plants with THC levels higher than 0.2% . For those who cultivate a small number of plants with THC levels higher than those required by current law, there could be an administrative fine and nothing more, but at the moment there is still no clarity on the topic and on the legalization of THC.

Do light cannabis plants contain THC?

This is one of the questions that is asked most frequently by those who still know little about the topic. The answer is yes, it contains THC, but in such negligible quantities that it is as if it didn't contain it.

The 0.1% THC contained in all light cannabis varieties is not enough and is not even remotely close to the amount needed to cause psychoactive properties, which is why light cannabis is legal.

However, it is not simple, indeed it is perhaps impossible to distinguish cannabis from light cannabis without tasting it , especially because there are varieties of light cannabis which from a terpene and therefore aromatic point of view are identical to those with a high THC content.

Before tasting it, for example, you won't be able to guess that our Diva, inspired byAmnesia , is THC-free.

And this is the revolution of good light cannabis, being usable even by those who love the aroma and therapeutic properties of cannabis sativa, even if they want to avoid its psychoactive effects.

Effects of THC

The effects of THC depend on the variety of cannabis we are taking and of course on the levels of THC it contains, which can vary and go from 10 up to 35, 40% , quantities that are actually very high and not very natural, with which it can be easier to experiment side effects.

But let's see what the basic effects of THC used for recreational purposes are, assuming balanced and conscious use. THC can cause:

  • A slight sense of euphoria
  • A sense of physical and mental relaxation
  • An improvement in good mood
  • A slight space-time alteration
  • Sudden hilarity and bouts of laughter
  • Better ability to concentrate
  • Stimulation of creativity
  • Stimulation of sociality
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Being an appetite stimulant, THC can cause the so-called 'munchies'

Instead, to learn how to recognize them, let's see what the potential side effects of THC may be:

  • A strong space-time alteration
  • Tachycardia
  • Paranoia and feelings of panic
  • Difficulty communicating with the outside world
  • In some cases, if you have not eaten or if you have drunk too much while taking cannabis with high THC levels, your vision may become blurred.
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Apathy
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea and vomit. This only in some cases, specifically if another psychotropic substance or an excessive dose of alcohol has been taken together with cannabis sativa.

These side effects resolve quickly and are preventable . It is essential to remember that although natural, high levels of THC make cannabis sativa a psychoactive substance, which despite being harmless and almost always beneficial, must be used without falling into abuse.

Finally, one of the most disputed side effects when it comes to cannabis sativa is related to the concomitant intake of tobacco , therefore nicotine and the combustion that occurs with the papers we use to roll joints.

There are those who maintain that most of the side effects come not from the psychotropic substance, but from the combination with harmful elements. And one cannot help but agree with this thesis.

And as in all things there is use and there is abuse!

CBG Mitigate the effects of THC

To avoid the side effects associated with tobacco and nicotine use, the solution is simple but requires some initial effort. Stop rolling and start using a weed vaporizer . Stop using mixed tobacco and replace it with light cannabis.

If, however, you have exaggerated with cannabis sativa with high levels of THC and perceive one or more side effects, you can help yourself with some simple remedies that will quickly make you as good as new.

Remember: if you have only taken cannabis sativa you can rest assured and follow the advice given below.

If, however, you have taken a psychoactive chemical substance or overdosed on alcohol to the point that you feel you are losing consciousness, do not hesitate to call 118, who will help you promptly.

If you just smoked too much, here you go:

  • stop smoking immediately, open the windows and get some air
  • rationalize, now you feel like you're dying, but it's only cannabis sativa. It is not toxic. It will pass.
  • rinse your face with cool water
  • eat some fruit and something salty but healthy. A simple carbohydrate, bread and tomato, bread and avocado, bread and tuna.
  • drink some water
  • breathe deeply and slowly 10, 20 times
  • vaporize cannabis light. CBD is able to attenuate the effects of THC
  • If you don't feel dizzy, try lying down and sleeping. When you wake up, it will all be over.

The use of THC in medicine

Cannabis sativa is a real workshop for pharmacology and in fact the research , when there is funding, does not stop and illuminates.

THC is used in medicine to treat numerous pathologies.

The distribution of medical cannabis is authorized by the State Cannabis Organization, active within the Ministry of Health . These are products with THC levels that can reach up to 19%.

Medical cannabis can be prescribed for pain relief, to treat multiple sclerosis or chronic disorders related to spinal cord injuries.

Furthermore, THC is used to counteract some of the more disturbing effects of chemo and radiotherapy or some therapies for HIV, but also for rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia or more serious forms of arthritis.

THC is also used in the treatment of glaucoma and to reduce involuntary movements in Tourette syndrome .

Statistically, when used in therapeutic cannabis-based treatments, THC has a better and less invasive effect than opiates and drugs derived from them.

Let's see specifically what THC is capable of and why it can be considered a revolutionary active ingredient for modern medicine.

Pain Management:

if used with awareness it can be one of the most powerful and natural painkillers at the same time . All studies on THC have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating chronic pain and acute pain.

It is such a powerful painkiller that it is able to relieve muscle spasms, thus also proving useful for managing pain and  involuntary movements even in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis and muscle spasticity.

This is why THC is used as an active ingredient to produce natural medicines that can treat multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia and Tourette's syndrome.

Appetite stimulant : 

what is called " munchie hunger " among recreational cannabis users can be a very useful resource in patients suffering from loss of appetite or for all those patients undergoing chemotherapy, which can cause nausea and retching.

Anti-inflammatory : 

THC has always been used, even by the most ancient populations as an anti-inflammatory, because as Dr. Ethan Russo made public in 2011 , THC can be considered the anti-inflammatory par excellence. It has anti-inflammatory properties twenty times greater than aspirin and almost double those of hydrocortisone.

Neuroprotector :

THC is able to work on the extinction of scary and traumatic memories. It therefore seems that it can be very useful in post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in very severe cases, in which sudden flashbacks can appear and brutally intrude into daily life.

CBD flowers THC and CBD

THC and CBD have many common characteristics. They are both two phytocannabinoids present on cannabis sativa plants. Both are able to interact with our cannabinoid receptors, helping to rebalance and stimulate our endocannabinoid system.

Both have therapeutic properties and are used in the pharmacological field for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other human pathologies. Sativex, for example, is a drug based on a natural extract of THC and CBD, which the Italian Medicines Agency has approved and authorized since 2013 and which is used to treat the painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

THC and CBD have also been used in the preparation of another drug, Epydiolex , used to treat the symptoms of epilepsy in children.

The only substantial difference between THC and CBD is that THC is a psychotropic substance due to its more or less light psychoactive effects. For this reason in some cases, if used in massive doses, THC can have side effects even in pharmacological form, just like all drugs.

No, CBD has no side effects even in massive doses.

This is one of the reasons why THC and CBD are used together , in different proportions depending on the pathology to be treated.

Obviously they can also be used together in everyday and non-medical use, substituting organic and certified light cannabis for tobacco of any mixture.

Eliminate THC from the body

THC is metabolized in the liver where it is broken down into approximately 80 metabolites which, so to speak, travel through the body before being slowly excreted.

THC is detected in fluids such as urine and saliva for up to 30 days after consumption , while in the hair it can remain for months and months , especially if the test is done by a person who regularly consumes cannabis sativa several times a day.

Regarding sporadic use, THC is detected up to approximately 7.10 days.

However, the assimilation and disposal of THC depends on three substantial factors:

  • our metabolism
  • the amount of cannabis sativa with a high concentration of THC that we are used to taking
  • the type of test and its sensitivity

It is clear that the greater the quantity consumed, the more complicated disposal will be.

In subjects with a fast metabolism, THC is eliminated more quickly than in subjects with a slow metabolism. Certain tests are so sensitive that they can detect THC in hair even after a year and there is no telling which test will be performed.

Cannabis flower In general, it is not recommended to try to dilute the urine or take strange concoctions that promise to alter the test. The risk is that the test could be considered rigged and falsified.

Better to focus on purification and disposal of toxins , like after the Christmas holidays.

Here's what might be helpful:

  • Sauna : if we have the possibility, a sauna can be very useful in releasing toxins and metabolites.
  • Water : Water will help us drain a lot and also dilute our urine. It is better to drink a lot in the days before the test but not excessively on the day itself, so as to avoid the urine being too diluted and becoming suspicious.
  • Draining herbal teas : go to the herbalist's shop and ask to have a mixture prepared with draining properties and take it at least once a day before the test.
  • Physical activity : let's increase our hours of physical activity. Running, swimming, any type of sport can be essential to speed up the process of eliminating THC from our body. We do physical activity at least once a day before the test.
  • Activated charcoal : Activated charcoal can also be a valid ally in the process of eliminating THC. In fact, it manages to bind to metabolites, eliminating them quickly and permanently from our body.
  • Zinc : there are those who claim that zinc can be useful for giving a false negative, being a urine alter. It is easily available in supplement form.

For the use of zinc and activated charcoal, it is best to contact your doctor first to ensure that they do not interact with other medications you are taking or with any problems.

Also be careful with the sauna, to avoid side effects, do not do it if you suffer from low blood pressure

When exercising, proceed with caution if you are usually sedentary. Ending up with the witch won't help you eliminate THC from your body.

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  3. Cannabis light: what is it?

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