Sometimes at markets, we get the occasional person who will walk by and turn their nose up at our hemp booth. I want to explain to them that it’s most likely not cannabis that they are against, but THC – the only psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. I would also like for them to know that there is at least one condition they are suffering from that cannabis is known to help with – pain, stress, anxiety, depression, inflammation, sleep disorders, cognitive decline, abnormal appetite, irregular blood pressure. Cannabis is known to help with ailments like these (and others) – issues we will all probably experience at some point in our lives. But the cannabis you take doesn’t have to get you “high.”
What is THC?
What is THC? THC stands for Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the psychoactive cannabinoid that people have traditionally associated with cannabis. It is what makes cannabis “marijuana”, meaning there is over 0.3% THC in that strain of cannabis. There are over 140 known cannabinoids found in cannabis plants and usually each strain has at least 5 different cannabinoids. THC is typically the most dominant, followed by CBD.
The Effects of THC
THC is known to promote relaxation by reducing blood pressure, inducing sleepiness, lowering attention span, and by creating a sense of altered space and time. It is also known to reduce inflammation, increase appetite, ease pain, reduce anxiety, improve memory, and ease depression when used in small doses. One way that it is known to help people living with PTSD is by reducing the REM stage of sleep, meaning the person likely won’t remember their dreams. Part of THC’s charm is in its ability to help you to forget.
THC is most known for the euphoric feelings that it can give. When people consume high levels of THC, they tend to report feelings of ease and relaxation; they report that their inflammation levels have lowered and their pains have been soothed, their minds and bodies feel more relaxed, and they’re not as worried as they had been before they consumed THC.
The Flip Side of THC
Despite most people experiencing these effects, this is not always the case for everyone. Although THC generally decreases pain, it can also increase sensitivity to pain in some. Recent studies report that high-THC cannabis users can be resistant to anesthesia and can have a hard time being sedated during surgery. High levels of THC can also make you feel more anxious. (I sometimes wonder if these feelings of heightened anxiety aren’t more common in states where recreational cannabis use is still illegal.)
THC also interferes with metabolization and increases the effect of opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives, and anti-rejection meds. Other negative side effects associated with THC are drowsiness, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, and paranoia.
So, How Does THC Work in the Body?
Because THC is structurally similar to anandamide, coined the “Bliss Molecule,” it is able to bind to the CB1 receptors in our brain to release serotonin and dopamine – mimicking the job of anandamide. Basically, THC consumption equates to a large rush of anandamide.
If you’ve ever experienced “runners’ high” after an intense work out, then you know the effects of anandamide. These effects leave people feeling euphoric, elated, light, care-free and it lends itself to the feeling of being rewarded for a job well done. Anandamide is released to promote happiness, pleasure, to stimulate the appetite, promote sleep, and to regulate body temperature – it is the endocannabinoid that keeps all our bodies’ systems working properly, and it keeps us feeling balanced and happy.
When you consume THC, it binds with the CB1 receptor in our brain and releases serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, meaning that it is used to help transmit messages between different nerve cells throughout the body, and it is known to regulate the mood. It is known as the “happiness” hormone and people who suffer from depression are known to have a low level of serotonin release. THC can be used as an antidepressant in low dosages but can worsen depression and other psychiatric conditions when used in high dosages.
The “high” associated with THC is also partly attributed to THC signaling the release of dopamine, another neurotransmitter. Dopamine is an important part of the body’s reward system. It is released when we engage in certain feel-good activities such as exercise, sex, eating, achieving goals, consuming cannabis, etc. When we are deficient in dopamine, we are more prone to depression, mood disorders, sleep problems, low energy, memory issues, and loss of motivation.
Over-consuming THC makes the brain over-sensitized to the serotonin and dopamine release cause in the brain, which leads to the desire to consume more THC to achieve the same effects. We’ve all heard that THC isn’t physically addictive, but because of its effect on serotonin and dopamine, it can feel mentally addictive.
How Does THC Compare to CBG?
In our opinion, CBG is akin to a non-psychoactive THC. It is said to help with a lot of the same ailments: sleeplessness, stress, anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, nausea, glaucoma, IBS, cognitive decline, ADHD, irregular blood pressure, and abnormal appetite. It seems to help with a lot of the same things, but CBG doesn’t fog the mind like THC can.
The way that CBG is received by the body is different than THC. THC tricks the body into thinking it is anandamide and can bind directly with the CB1 receptors; whereas CBG doesn’t bind as directly to the CB1 receptors – but it is able to boost anandamide production, which increases dopamine levels. Higher dopamine levels can help treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and poor appetite.
How CBG Distinguishes Itself from THC
CBG may help improve your mood by activating the serotonin receptors in your brain, and it also can stop the re-uptake of GABA. Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that is naturally occurring in our brain. It is believed that GABA functions to control fear and anxiety when neurons are overacting. CBG may prevent serotonin and GABA uptake in the brain, more-so than any other cannabinoid, making CBG a promising cannabinoid for depression.
Dabbling in Doses of THC and CBG
THC and CBG make a very good team. Like all cannabinoids, they work better when they work together. Here is a breakdown of different THC/CBG ratios and how they might affect you:
All THC + No CBG = Effective; but perhaps less effective.
The result short lived but with intense psychoactive action. If THC is consumed by being smoked or vaped, the effects will be stronger, and the psychoactive action will be greater in the first 30 minutes after consumption. But if you are eating high doses of THC, the effects can take 2 or more hours to set in and the psychoactive action greater and more long-lasting than if you had smoked THC. A wise man once advised, “If you don’t smoke weed, then good God don’t eat it!” Truer words have never been spoken.
Mostly THC + Some CBG = Longer effectiveness but with less psychoactive action.
Equal THC + CBG = Longer effectiveness but with no psychoactive action.
Some/No THC + Mostly CBG = Effective; but perhaps less effective, and without any psychoactive action.
Don’t forget, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have consumed too much THC and you are not enjoying it, you can reverse the “high” by consuming CBG or CBD. This is because CBD and CBG block THC from binding as strongly with the CB1 receptors. Drink plenty of water, sit down, breathe, and know that this anxious feeling will pass.
We can’t tell you how many horror stories we’ve heard from people deciding to partake in high THC edibles while visiting Illinois or Colorado. They think they are making the “healthier” choice by eating THC. Oftentimes, they don’t feel any effect an hour after eating the THC edible, so they eat more, only to find themselves in the Emergency Room hours later with extreme anxiety, fear, and heart palpitations.
Just as we explained in our previous blog on the differences between CBD and CBG, THC and CBG are both incredible cannabinoids. You will have to experiment with ratios and cannabinoid profile combinations to find the blend that is right for you.
Our advice when consuming THC is to start off slow with low mg THC products until you know how your body will react to it. A great place to start would be with our CBG Full Spectrum Oil or Gummies. They are below the legal limit of 0.3% THC, meaning that they are non-psychoactive, and they are paired with CBG and other cannabinoids to help promot