What is THC?
- THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) is a cannabinoid found in various species of the cannabis plant.
- It is the plant’s primary intoxicating compound, which means that it makes the user ‘high’.
- THC produces its mind-altering effects by binding to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors and disrupting various mental and physical functions.
- Apart from its intoxicating potential, THC also has numerous medicinal properties, and can be effective in managing various health conditions, including chronic pain, insomnia and depression.
If you’ve heard of cannabis, then you’ve probably heard of THC. Why? Because THC is the plant’s main intoxicating component, responsible for making cannabis users ‘high’. For those interested in buying CBD or marijuana products, it is important not only to understand the safety implications of consuming THC, but also to be aware of its potential medicinal uses. In this article, we’ll cover all the information you need to know about this compound.
What is THC?
THC is one of 113 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Many of these, including CBD and CBG, have therapeutic properties.
As mentioned above, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is intoxicating in nature. This means that when a person consumes it, it may
and produce a feeling of euphoria. In simple terms, it makes the user ‘high’.
Aside from its intoxicating potential, THC has also been shown to be effective in managing a range of medical conditions, including:
- Eating disorders
- Chronic pain
How Does THC Interact With The Human Body?
THC imitates the activity of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that carry messages from one part of the body to the brain and vice versa.
The compound produces mind-altering effects by attaching itself to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and activating them, which disrupts the normal behaviour of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), along with various mental and physical functions, including movement, coordination, pleasure, thinking, memory, concentration, sensory experience, and time perception.
THC can also modify the functioning of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, which are areas of the brain responsible for making new memories and directing attention. As a result, THC can adversely affect a person’s coordination, reaction time, thinking, balance, and even posture.
In addition to these effects, THC also stimulates the brain to release chemicals like dopamine, which is linked to feelings of pleasure. This means that every time a person consumes THC (for example, by smoking marijuana), their brain’s reward system is stimulated, and so they become increasingly motivated to use the substance again and again. For this reason, marijuana and other substances containing THC have the potential to create addiction or dependency issues.
CBD vs THC
Like THC, CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant.
While both compounds have various medicinal uses, they differ in one important way: THC is intoxicating and CBD is not.
There is some overlap in their therapeutic properties, with CBD commonly being used to manage medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), chronic pain, seizures, nausea, depression, and anxiety.
While many scientific studies verify its effectiveness, more research is needed to understand its impact on specific health conditions.
It is therefore likely that CBD will be the focus of much research in the coming years.
The core ingredient of CBD products is CBD oil.
This oil comes in two forms: broad-spectrum and full-spectrum oil. The main difference between the two is the amount of THC they contain.
A CBD product containing a mixture of naturally-occurring plant extracts such as terpenes and other cannabinoids, and up to 0.3% THC or more, is considered a full-spectrum CBD product.
While broad-spectrum CBD products also contain many plant compounds, they are either completely free from THC, or contain negligible (trace) amounts of it, i.e. less than 0.3%.
This means that broad-spectrum CBD is guaranteed to be non-intoxicating and safe for use.
To find out how to take CBD, check out our blog article here.
CBD vs THC: Side-Effects
Most substances have the potential to cause unwanted side-effects. However, as both CBD and THC are organic compounds, adverse reactions are very rare. Nevertheless, we think it is important to be aware of the possible side-effects, so have included a list of them below.
If you suffer from any of the following effects after use, it might mean that you need to decrease your consumption of CBD products. It is always advisable to start with a low dosage of CBD and increase it gradually until you find the optimal amount. We recommend 5% or 10% CBD oil as a good starting point.
In addition, if you are taking any other medication in conjunction with CBD or THC, consult your doctor to confirm whether this could cause adverse side-effects.
Research indicates that, in rare cases, THC consumption can cause:
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Memory issues
- Coordination issues
- Slow reactions
Similarly, uncommon side-effects of CBD consumption include:
- Weight loss
- Appetite issues
It is worth repeating that these side-effects are experienced rarely, and you can be rest assured that both compounds, if taken in safe quantities, do not affect your normal bodily functions or cause toxicity.
For these compounds to be fatal, huge amounts of them have to be consumed. It is advised for new users to start small with CBD and increase doses only when required or if they do not feel desired effects at a lower dosage.
CBD vs THC: Drug Testing
Drug tests are sometimes performed at court proceedings or as a requirement of certain employment contracts. As CBD and THC are generally stored in the fat deposits of the body, this means that they may show up in the drug test even weeks after you have used them.
However, as CBD is legal for consumption, drug tests will usually only check for THC. If there is a possibility that you might be required to undergo a drug test, it is important that you ensure that any CBD product you are using is third-party tested, especially if it claims to be THC-free. Anyone can claim that the product does not contain THC, but only third-party testing can guarantee that the product you are using is what it claims to be.
At Naturecan, we ensure that all of our products undergo a strict third-party testing process that consists of at least six stages, so you can be assured of the integrity and safety of our products.
CBD vs THC: Break-down
THC in CBD products
While THC is not legal for consumption on its own, it is present in small and safe quantities within CBD products.
In order to ensure that Naturecan’s CBD products contain non-detectable levels of THC (less than 0.01%), we put our oil through an extensive purification process to remove as much THC as possible and make our products completely safe for use.
For legal reasons, it is important for sellers like us to inform customers of the various steps that products have undergone to make them safe for use.
While CBD and THC are present in both the cannabis and the hemp plant, cannabis-sourced CBD often has a higher THC content, whereas hemp-sourced CBD has lower concentrations. A typical cannabis plant may contain up to 12 percent of THC.
Is THC legal in the UK?
In the UK, it is illegal to sell a CBD product that has THC concentrations of more than 0.2%.
To be approved for sale in the UK, any CBD product should have a third-party verification certificate from an accredited ISO lab. This certificate is only given to products that have THC of lower than 0.01%.
It is important to note here that CBD flowers are still illegal to be sold even if the THC concentrations are below 0.2%. CBD supplements or food products on the other hand require Novel Food Application. This requires a special license which takes a long time to acquire.
Is CBD legal?
CBD isolates and broad-spectrum CBD products are safe and legal to consume in the UK, as these contain negligible amounts of THC, and there is no risk of intoxication. While THC is illegal to sell on its own, some people may be granted special permission to take it for certain medical conditions.
Both CBD and THC offer a range of potential health benefits and are perfectly safe when consumed in the right concentrations.
CBD products in particular have given many people a safe and simple way to boost wellbeing and enhance quality of life. They have also provided life-changing benefits to people for whom conventional medicine has proved ineffective. The benefits of CBD are so far-reaching that it can even be given to pets to improve their health.
Written by Alex Coughlan and reviewed by our qualified experts, Moyra Cosgrove, Head of Nutrition at Naturecan, SENR Registered Nutritionist and DProf candidate at LJMU, and Paul Holmes, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Naturecan, BSc Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, Member of UKAS/FSA CBD Food Product Approval Expert Group