There are more than 100 different cannabinoids currently known to science, almost all of which occur naturally in the cannabis plant. While some of these compounds have been discovered only recently, others have been known to researchers for some time now. Two of the best-known are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Different cannabinoids have different effects on the body. As such, many of them likely have different medical uses. One cannabinoid, for example, may be better at treating pain and inflammation than another. Recognizing this, medical researchers are now investigating the many different effects of cannabinoids.
THC and CBD are two of the best-known cannabinoids for two reasons. The first is that they appear in high concentrations in many cannabis strains. In fact, THC is the most common active compound in most strains. These two are also two of the earliest recognized cannabinoids, meaning most research to date has been conducted on them. Many synthetics are currently based on THC levels, although this is beginning to change.
THC has many different effects on the human body. Some of them are good, while others are less advantageous.
Drowsy and Relaxing Effects
THC is perhaps best known for its analgesic effects. One of the reasons medical cannabis is often considered an effective treatment for pain management is due to THC’s ability to reduce pain for patients.
THC also tends to make people drowsy, often helping patients achieve sleep. The way it interacts with cell receptors in the brain has been shown to have some profound effects on the body’s sleep/wake cycle. Insomnia sufferers and patients with chronic pain alike may benefit from THC.
If pain is keeping you up, THC could be an effective management tool to help you achieve sleep sooner. It could also help you sleep longer and achieve better-quality sleep. Many patients also report feeling more relaxed with the use of THC-dominant strains of medical cannabis.
THC also has some downsides. One of those could in fact be its sedative properties. Many patients prefer not to utilize THC-dominant strains or synthetics for daytime use and pain relief, since it can make them drowsy.
THC is also a psychoactive compound, meaning it directly acts on the brain. THC is the compound primarily responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis. While this isn’t inherently bad on its own, it can cause some patients to experience negative effects. It could also have consequences for others, particularly if the patient engages in activities such as operating motor vehicles.
It is one reason many medical professionals regard the use of THC-dominant strains with caution. It’s quite possible for those who are inexperienced with medical cannabis to overmedicate. In turn, patients could experience anxiety, paranoia, and other negative effects. In rare circumstances, THC can cause psychosis. Given these risks, some patients with pre-existing severe mental health issues should avoid THC.
One systematic review of cannabinoid use in older patients demonstrated the patients experienced more sedative effects during cannabinoid treatment. There was also some suggestion THC and other cannabinoids could play a role in the treatment of behavioural symptoms associated with conditions such as dementia and anorexia.
More studies are now being conducted on CBD, which is recognized as being significantly less psychoactive than THC. Many researchers are interested in discovering the effectiveness of treatment when THC and CBD are combined. Patients have reported synthetics that combine the two are preferential to those containing only THC. Many medical professionals agree with this assessment.
It’s believed CBD may be able to counterbalance some of the negative effects of THC.
More research on THC and how it interacts with other cannabinoids in the human body is needed. As research grows, more effective treatments will no doubt be developed.