The Comprehensive Guide to THC: What Does THC Stand For and What Does It Do?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an active ingredient in marijuana responsible for producing its psychological effects. This comprehensive guide sets out what it is & what it does & its potential future.

The Comprehensive Guide to THC: What Does THC Stand For and What Does It Do?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical compound in cannabis that produces the “high” associated with recreational use. It is also the active ingredient in marijuana and acts much like cannabinoid chemicals naturally produced by the body. THC interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce a complex signature of effects, including changes in mood, appetite, cognition, and perception. It has also been found to have potential medical benefits, such as treating PTSD and depression.

This comprehensive guide to THC aims to set the record straight on what it is, what it does, and its potential future. THC is an acronym for the full eight-syllable name of the chemical compound in cannabis that causes you to get high. Its chemical name is (—)-trans-delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. We have pioneering scientist Dr. Allyn Howlett to thank for making the discovery that showed us why.

In 1988, he discovered where and how THC attaches to the brain. In short, he discovered the secret link between tetrahydrocannabinol and the ECS. CB1 receptors throughout the brain and nervous system modulate movement, memory, cognition, sensory perceptions, and even time perception. According to NIDA, tetrahydrocannabinol “overactivates functions typically regulated by the ECS” such as mood, appetite, cognition and perception. At first glance, this fact seems to confirm the oft-cited concern that cannabis use reduces short-term memory capacity. However, the power of forgetfulness can be incredibly beneficial for those suffering from traumatic memories, such as people with PTSD.

Hence the promising findings that tetrahydrocannabinol can treat a number of trauma-related psychological disorders. In addition to helping people with PTSD process and forget traumatic memory associations, the short-term effects of tetrahydrocannabinol may improve mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Some have even suggested that THC can help people with ADHD. This list of medical benefits of tetrahydrocannabinol is impressive and will only continue to get longer as barriers to research crumble. Dabbing offers recreational users a massive dose of THC, much higher than any herbal cannabis could provide. In other words, dabbing will make you taller than you ever thought possible, and certainly taller than you could otherwise get. However, for some, inhaling vapors with more than 90 percent THC creates an effect that is too strong.

This can turn the euphoria of a good high into the anxiety of a bad one. In that case, recreational users look for strains with high THC concentrations. Here are some of the most potent THC dominant strains. Since we have taken a good look at the recreational dimensions of tetrahydrocannabinol, now is a good time to mention a very important fact about THC consumption. Technically speaking, the cannabinoid that appears in cannabis is THCA. “A” designates its acid form.

Heat is needed to convert THCA to the psychoactive delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. That's why you have to apply a flame to dry cannabis - not just to burn buds to produce smoke for inhalation but to activate THC. While breeders continue to produce strains with record concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, the future of THC is undeniably in the realm of concentrates. In fact, one of the most important discoveries of dabbing culture has profound implications for the future of cannabis in general. The “entourage” effect refers to synergistic interactions between tetrahydrocannabinol, terpenes and other cannabinoids. Concentrate production keeps these compounds intact and that means that not only pure THC vapor is inhaled but vapor that consists of all those chemicals combined. The concentration of THC also depends on the cultivation of marijuana plant Cannabis sativa L.

Both CBD and THC are still federally illegal substances and are only approved for recreational or drug use in certain states. Most standard drug tests look for chemicals related to THC so use of THC or marijuana may appear in a screening test. It is essential that people familiarize themselves with local laws before purchasing and consuming CBD or THC. And while it's true that the chemical is highly prized by recreational users researchers continue to identify innovative ways to use it as a medicine. The potential to use cannabis as part of a cancer treatment is one of the most promising and exaggerated benefits of THC. However a slight difference in arrangement of atoms explains difference between CBD and THC. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adds that potential side effects are likely to result from interactions with other medications a person is taking. In digestive tract THC can stimulate release of “hunger hormone” ghrelin and help relieve nausea.

According to researchers who have investigated effects of cannabis on animal tumors THC can cause cancer cells to eat themselves. Since marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 3 000 years understanding biochemistry of cannabis requires learning new vocabulary but they are key to understanding what THC is and how it affects us. Fabrizio marijuana chemistry expert at Terra Tech Corp California agricultural company focused on local agriculture and medical cannabis says understanding entourage effect helps us direct THC to different chemical pathways and therefore produce different effects.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an active ingredient in marijuana responsible for producing its psychological effects. It interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) producing changes in mood appetite cognition perception etc. It has also been found to have potential medical benefits such as treating PTSD depression anxiety etc.

THC has both recreational and medical uses but it's important for users to be aware of local laws before purchasing or consuming CBD or THC products.

Finally understanding entourage effect helps us direct THC to different chemical pathways producing different effects.