etrahydrocannabinol is the substance in the cannabis plant that makes you high. It’s probably the most recognized compound in this plant, and also the most controversial, as studies show opposite effects on the brain and body.
Some say the positive influence of tetrahydrocannabinol on the human organism doesn’t outweigh the risks and side effects linked with THC administration, while others consider the plant’s psychoactivity a good thing and support the medical and recreational use of products containing THC.
In today’s article we’ll take a look at some studies that support the use of THC, then we’ll look for scientific proofs for the negative effects of this compound. Hopefully by doing so we’ll be able to decide whether THC is good or bad for humans.
THC exerts positive effects on the organism …
The cannabis plant is often used for pain relief, and seems to be quite effective in this direction, THC being the ingredient responsible for this benefit. The psychoactive compound activates certain pathways in the central nervous system which prevent the pain signals from being sent to the brain.
Although considered damaging for the brain, THC has a number of positive effects on the nervous cells, being included in the list of natural antioxidants and neuroprotectants that can prevent inflammation and oxidative stress from affecting these cells. Moreover, THC seems to promote the growth of nervous cells, process called neurogenesis.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is a psychoactive substance which has a sleep-inducing effect and may help people suffering from insomnia or sleep apnea fall asleep easier. Also, the compound seems to improve nighttime breathing, so it may serve as natural treatment for the mentioned conditions.
Another positive effect of THC is its ability to stimulate appetite in people with anorexia, helping them to gain weight. Finally, this compound found in the cannabis plant seems to be effective in reducing symptoms of glaucoma by relieving eye pressure. However, the effects only last for a couple of hours, so research is still needed for developing a viable THC-based glaucoma treatment.
These are some of the positive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, but in order to decide whether THC is good or bad for health, we should analyze the negative effects too.
… but has serious side effects as well
THC acts on specific brain cell receptors, which are involved in development and function. When these cells are overactivated, the “high” feel occurs, and symptoms like changed in mood, altered senses, impaired body movements, difficulty thinking and impaired memory are experienced. But these short-term manifestations aren’t the only side effects of THC administration.
Tetrahydrocannabinol increases the heart rate by 20-50 beats per minute, and this increase can be fatal for people with cardiovascular problems. In those with heart disease, the rapid heart beat that continues for hours can raise the risk of heart attack. High levels of THC, especially when administered through smoking, can make one more prone to stroke and cardiomyopathy.
Consuming THC-rich products may increase the risk of psychosis, reducing the age of onset by 2.7 years. Used before the age of 15, cannabis and THC implicitly can be a factor in the development of schizophrenic disorders. Heavy use of THC can lead to increased levels of triglycerides. By activating the brain receptors that regulate appetite, THC increases hunger, and this can also be regarded as a negative effect, as it makes one more prone to weight gain.
Other potential side effects of this substance include impaired attention and learning skills, impaired driving skills and slowed reaction time, altered peripheral vision, increased risk of chronic bronchitis, lung and sinus inflammation in case of cannabis smokers, disruption of the menstrual cycle.
So is THC good or bad for you?
Is THC good or bad for your health? The answer depends on how this substance is administered and used, on the amount of THC that enters the body and on the administration frequency. Just like the side effects can’t be neglected, the positive effects of this compound shouldn’t be denied either.