The Side Effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

We have all come to love the profound effects of THC, but for some THC simply doesn’t work. 

THC, known scientifically as Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring component within the marijuana, or cannabis plant. This cannabis should not be confused with hemp, which is also sometimes referred to as cannabis. Apart from appearance, marijuana contains noticeable amounts of THC, while hemp contains only traces. Even though Tetrahydrocannabinol is scientifically linked with a multitude of beneficial and medicinal results, at the same time it can also impact some individuals with adverse effects – and that is what this article is going to focus on.

In this article, we will discuss these negative side effects in further depth, so that the full extent and complete information about THC can be understood. With this information provided, it is possible for each individual and user to make their own educated decisions for themselves- to decide whether or not THC is right for them, and why so.

Keep reading to discover more about THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, and its potential side effects…

What Is THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol?

THC questions and answers

As mentioned earlier, THC, a.k.a. Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid within the marijuana plant, present in varying amounts and doses depending upon the strain type and its method of extraction or presented form. In plant or bud form, stronger marijuana crops typically feature around 15-25% THC on average, but extracts and shatters can measure up to anywhere around 80-90% THC in stronger cases.

It is said that there is even a type of shatter which offers 98% THC content, but this product is not often available on the market. The marijuana crop also includes other cannabinoids, up to 70 of them on average, but each strain varies a bit in the percentages and quantities of each of the cannabinoids. The two most popular and discussed cannabinoids are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).

Unlike CBD, THC is psychoactive, and is the reason why the consumption of marijuana is often linked to the development of a “high”, which can sometimes be described with the terms stoney, couch-lock inducing, munchies inducing or even buzzy. On a scientific level, the psychoactive results of THC are described as a change in perception, sensory awareness, behavior and reaction time, just to name a few.

How Does THC Work Within the Body/Brain?:

Each individual has an important and necessary system within their body, known as the endocannabinoid system, which is present within the brain and further throughout the body. This system is responsible for regulating some of the body’s vital processes, primarily those which maintain balance, or homeostasis. Some of these processes include sleep, appetite, mood, immune response and even pain regulation.

THC comes into the equation, by binding to the Cannabinoid 1 receptor, or CB1. It connects with this receptor, impacting the way that neurotransmitters are sent throughout the brain and into different parts of the body. This is why THC is linked with the psychoactive effects as this process can slow down reaction time, as well as affect mood, behavior and more. For this same reason, the medicinal elements of THC can encourage certain processes within the body to increase productivity.

For example, THC is sometimes described as being capable of assisting with sleep regulation (particularly amongst those with insomnia), increasing a lack of appetite (which could counteract nausea, or even help someone who struggles with anorexia or another eating disorder), as well as manage pain (even at a chronic or more serious level). For these reasons, THC can impair day to day functionality, but at the same time it can improve some medical conditions and ailments, as well as general discomforts.

What Medical Conditions Can THC Assist With?:

Of course each strain is different and can assist with a multitude of varying medical conditions, but in particular, some medical uses of THC includes sleeplessness (insomnia), depression, anxiety, nausea, lack of appetite, pain management, chronic pain, chronic stress, menstrual pains, migraines/headaches, inflammation, stomach cramps, muscle tension, bipolar, ADD/ADHD, PTSD, muscle spasms, chronic fatigue and others. The list extends much further than just these, but the ones mentioned are probably the most prevalent uses for medical cannabis.

The Potential Side Effects of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol):

Although Cannabis Enthusiasts swear by THC and its healing properties, THC can produce a number of potential side effects, which vary upon strain type and method of consumption.

Here is a list and an explanation of each of the most common and prevelantly occurring THC side effects:

  1. Dry Mouth/Cotton Mouth: It goes by different names- whether referred to as dry mouth or cottonmouth, these synonymous symptoms are the lack of the mouth’s production of saliva, which can be uncomfortable or unpleasant for some. Thankfully, this is one of the most manageable of THC’s adverse effects. With a little extra preparation and planning, dealing with cotton mouth can be a breeze. Be sure to drink plenty of hydrating fluids before, during and after your THC consumption. Staying hydrated not only brings more saliva to the mouth, it also decreases your chances of dehydration, headaches and any grogginess the next day.
  2. Dry Eyes/Itchy Eyes/Red Eyes: Another one of the more commonly occurring negative side effects of THC, dry, itchy or red eyes can be uncomfortable, but are not debilitating and are quite easily manageable by purchasing moisturizing eye drops from your local drug store or pharmacy and applying them when you feel this discomfort arising. These drops are affordable and can be kept on hand or nearby, so that you won’t have to spend another moment worrying about this adverse effect.
  3. Headaches/Lightheadedness/Dizziness: Less prevalent than some other side effects; headaches, lightheadedness and dizziness can all occur amongst some users and are sometimes related to dehydration or a lack of fluid consumption. In some other cases, it is simply the way a certain strain makes a specifical body chemistry react. If you happen to experience this reaction, you may decide to stay away from that strain type and particular method of consumption, and try something else instead.
  4. Increased Anxiety/Paranoia/Depression: For some, THC consumption is tied to an increase in anxiety, paranoia or depression. This is typically more prevalent amongst those who suffer from mood disorders, or have an anxiety/depression disorder to begin with. This does not usually relate to the strain type, although it sometimes can, and tends to be linked more with the intake of higher doses of THC. If this is the case for you, try choosing a strain with a lower THC content, and build little by little as you feel is comfortable.
  5. Sleepiness/Lethargy: Some may want to feel sleepy after consuming THC, but for others, developing sleepiness and lethargy may be problematic and undesirable, leading to a lack in motivation or functionality. For those who experience lethargy after consuming THC, it may be suitable to try a sativa or sativa dominant strain type as an alternative, because these tend to be more energy inducing, revitalizing and motivational.

Why Choose THC?:

For medical patients and others, let’s be honest- THC is truly not for everyone. CBD, its non-psychoactive relative, might be a more suitable choice if you want to maintain functionality and not experience any slowing down in reaction speed, etc. So then, the question remains, why choose THC?

First of all, some people genuinely enjoy the psychoactive experiences associated with Tetrahydrocannabinol, and for this reason it may be relaxing or even exhilarating for them. For others, they may have tried both THC and CBD and discovered that THC seems to manage their medical symptoms more efficiently than CBD can. At the end of the day, it is all about personal preference, but it is important to keep in mind that research has shown, THC is linked to more side effects than CBD has been.

The choice to consume THC is an extremely personal and individual decision, and depends heavily upon how the cannabinoid effects you, as well as how certain strains affect your body and mind versus others. With this being said, not all strains with THC affect the body the same, so someone that generally enjoys consuming THC might find a particular strain type that they “go-to” over others.

If you have read all this information and have determined that Tetrahydrocannabinol honestly isn’t for you, don’t worry- you have other options. Consider trying a product with CBD, whether it be a strain that contains a greater content of CBD over THC, for example: Charlotte’s Web, Canna-Tsu, ACDC, Ringo’s Gift, just to name a few. Another option is to purchase a CBD-based product- many of them are produced with non-psychoactive hemp and contain merely trace amounts of THC (no more than 0.3%), so they will not cause the decrease in reaction time, change in behavior, etc.

There are a few reputable companies which produce these non-psychoactive CBD extracts, and they are legally available for purchase and delivery in all 50 states throughout the United States, as well as in some other countries that have recognized cannabis as legal for medical and recreational use, Canada for example.

Final Thoughts About THC:

The choice to consume THC is extremely personal and selected by each individual on a case by case basis, but if you are a person dealing with some of the medical conditions or ailments listed above, then you may discover THC as being an extremely useful and healing alternative to conventional medical treatments or therapies. In some cases, medical patients pair up THC with their conventional therapies, acting as a dual assistance.

Regardless of your decision, if you discover that THC is not the right choice for you, other options do exist, so do not simply give up on your search there. CBD has also been proven to be incredibly medically beneficial, and you may decide to try this cannabinoid as well. It is important to remember that the consumption of marijuana and THC is the sole responsibility of the user, and discretion should always be taken.

None of what is written above has been evaluated or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional, and therefore, it should not be interpreted as medical advice. We hope you found this article to not only be entertaining, but also educational and informative.