THC is one of many chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found inside the dried resin glands of the female cannabis flower. It is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body.
Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person’s memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception, according to NIDA.
Though THC was first isolated in 1964 by Dr. Rapheael Mechoulam, it wasn’t until 1988 that Dr. Allyn Howlett of Wake Forest University uncovered the binding sites for THC in the human brain. What she discovered was nothing short of revolutionary: THC was attaching itself to special cell sites in the hippocampus (responsible for memory), the frontal cortex (where we think), and the cerebellum (responsible for movement).
As cannabis continues to gain acceptance in mainstream culture, more and more studies are coming out that bring THC’s medical value to light. Most remarkable are the findings on THC as a potential treatment for cancer. Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid have found that THC actually causes tumor cells to auto-digest themselves in animal models, meaning that THC may play a vital role in drastically reducing the tumor size and prevalence.
THC synthetics are already on pharmacy shelves. Large-scale pharmaceutical companies have put out drugs like Marinol, a prescription medication that increases appetite and reduces nausea in cancer patients. Multiple Sclerosis drug Sativex is made of THC extracted from cannabis plants.
THC’s ability to fight tumors is incredible. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is an underlying factor that contributes to a whole host of modern diseases. Autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and depression are three major health problems triggered by inflammation. THC’s potent inflammation-fighting nature is one major reason the herb helps with such a wide variety of conditions.