Cannabinoids Explained: THC

THC, also known as delta-9-THC, is the most abundant cannabinoid found in the majority of cannabis cultivars. Written by Anna Barberena.

What is THC?

THC, also known as delta-9-THC, is the most abundant cannabinoid found in the majority of cannabis cultivars. This cannabinoid is responsible for the majority of the intoxicating effects we experience from cannabis. THC binds to the CB1 receptor throughout the endocannabinoid system which produces the feeling of intoxication (1). THC was first identified and isolated by Dr. Rapheal Mecholum and his team in 1964. THC has been shown to have numerous therapeutic properties which aid in pain relief, reducing inflammation, stimulating appetite, relaxing muscles, reducing spasms, lessening anxiety, inhibiting the spread of cancer cells, slowing down damage to the nervous system and reducing seizures (2, 3). THC has been shown to have 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone (3)! THC concentrations in flower can range from 3% all the way to 35% depending on genetics, how the flower is grown and what post-harvest processes are utilized.

What is THC?

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, the Therapeutic Effects of THC are:

  • Intoxication
  • Pain relief (analgesic)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Inhibits the spread of cancer cells (anti-proliferative)
  • Slows damage to nervous system and brain (neuroprotective)
  • Antioxidant (reduces damage due to oxygen or free radicals)
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Reduces intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye)
  • Spasticity and muscle tension reduction
  • Seizure reduction
  • Mood elevation

Entourage Effect

  • When THC is paired with CBD, its intoxicating effects will be reduced and certain therapeutic properties will be enhanced such as its anti-inflammatory effect (4)
  • THC by itself does not produce the sleepy or stimulating effects of cannabis. Terpenes, the compounds which provide cannabis’ flavor and aroma, determine the effects of a strain (3).

Conditions THC may be Beneficial for

  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
  • Sleeping Issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Enhancing performance and recovery after exercising
  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Eating disorders
  • Addiction

Potential adverse side effects

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Red Eyes
  • Dry Mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Temporary psychosis
  • Drug interaction
  • Short term memory loss
  • Enhancing pre-existing conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and PTSD
  • Learn more about potential adverse side effects of THC

Citations: 1. Sulak, Dustin. “The Pharmacology of Cannabis.” Medical Cannabis Core Curriculum, 2. Mack, Elizabeth. “Welcome to the Holistic Caring Network!” Holistic Caring Network, 2021, 3. Russo, Ethan B. “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 163,7 (2011): 1344-64. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.0123. 4. Russo E, Guy GW. A tale of two cannabinoids: the therapeutic rationale for combining tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Med Hypotheses. 2006;66(2):234-46. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2005.08.026. Epub 2005 Oct 4. PMID: 16209908.


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