All About the THC- A Popular Cannabinoid
THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance in cannabis that causes psychological effects. When we use marijuana, we want it to give us a magnificent effect and sensation. But, do we know what produces such a beloved result? The marijuana plant can produce more than 400 different chemical substances throughout its structure.
However, only some of them, formed at the ends and especially in the buds that grow on its branches, actively create the expected result. Of these motivating elements for marijuana use, we can highlight the famous THC above all others.
What is THC? What does THC do?
Few researchers of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Israel discovered it just over 50 years ago. THC, scientifically known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Δ9-THC, is a cannabinoid produced by the marijuana plant in the form of a resin. It contains high levels of protection against direct exposure to the sun.
Especially against ultraviolet radiation, and it is also speculated that it is a self-defence mechanism against herbivorous animals. THC or Dronabinol side effects are a compound whose solidity varies depending on the temperature. It can reach a glassy consistency at low temperatures, while in hot environments, it becomes dense, sticky, and oily.
This state has excellent resistance to being dissolved in water but not with lipids or alcohol. Its entry into the body causes psychoactive effects because it intervenes in the brain receptors CB1 and CB2 as long as they are the variable delta-9 or delta-8.
However, it’s fewer psychoactive effects than its simile, making its consumption less enjoyable. It is also worth mentioning that marijuana has suffered excellent discrimination and many obstacles in its consumption and study. Being considered taboo and inappropriate has created an atmosphere of rejection and myths that blacken its reality.
Currently, these shadows are dissipating through the change in perception that is taking place on the plant.
How to Create THC from Cannabis
The cannabis plant contains large amounts of cannabigerol acid (CBG). Many of the most prevalent cannabinoids arise for their effects when consumed, such as CBD, CBC, and the all-powerful THC.
This acid will undergo different transformations depending on humidity, heat, or lighting that will alter each of the mentioned elements’ quantity manufactured.
In THC, cannabigerol acid must be influenced by heat and light, mainly to transform into another acid component called Tetrahydrocannabinolic (THCA). The last ancestor of pure THC will be formed from this component: an enzyme called THC synthase.
THCA and THC’s difference is that the former has a higher concentration of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms in atomic composition. These must be suppressed to achieve the refinement of the enzyme allowing it to mutate to our desired pure THC through a process called decarboxylation caused mainly by the passage of time or by direct exposure to sunlight and warm temperatures.
Health Effects of THC
Our body naturally manufactures some cannabinoid elements that actively transfer information between neurons at the nervous system’s synapse.
These cannabinoids, among which anandamide should be highlighted, are supported by receptors dedicated to CB1 and CB 2 receptors.
In the nervous system, the information and orders necessary for the correct functionality of pleasure, memory, reasoning, the ability to concentrate and adequately coordinate body movements are transmitted and control the individual’s perception of space-time.
THC and other psychoactive components of marijuana share a vast structural and atomic similarity with cannabinoids present in the human body.
THC and its similar ones usurp the space of human cannabinoids in the receptors of the types mentioned, altering the normal functioning of the nervous system with varied effects depending on the area of the brain affected, although the following mainly stand out:
- Cerebral cortex: This area is mainly responsible for the rational, perception, and memory functions of the individual, so when THC occupies its cannabinoid receptors, an alteration of consciousness occurs with effects such as memory distortions with occasional delusions and hallucinations.
- Hypothalamus: It is responsible for governing the metabolic process and, therefore, appetite. That is why when THC intervenes in it, its normal functioning is altered, producing a sensation of hunger.
- Brainstem: Its functions include controlling blood pressure, heart rate, and the vomiting reflex, for which THC produces relief from nausea, reduction of blood pressure, and drowsiness.
- Hippocampus: It is exclusively responsible for storing memories, so THC produces a disability in its performance.
- Cerebellum: It governs motor skills, and when under the effect of THC, coordination is degraded.
- Amygdala: It governs emotions. Tetrahydrocannabinol reduces anxiety and helps combat traumatic memories and hostility. In extreme cases, it can produce panic or anxiety.
In addition to these isolated effects depending on specific areas in which it acts, THC also activates the brain’s gratification system, which works as a generator of pleasure when we have sex or eat.
This fact causes the brain to release supernatural amounts of dopamine responsible for making us feel pleasure and is the goal that recreational marijuana users seek.
How long does THC last in Different Health Systems?
Duration of THC Cannabinoid in the body (THC-COOH)
Although THC is the main element for which marijuana is consumed, drug tests do not pursue this element but instead seek to detect an aspect called THC-COOH.
This metabolite is generated in the liver when THC reaches the liver, and this begins to break it down so that pure THC disappears relatively quickly while THC-COOH remains in the body much longer.
Although each control unit establishes cut-off levels to determine if the individual is following the awareness requirements of the occupation to be performed, the most used level is 50 ng/ml (nanogram per milliliter).
But we must clarify that these levels of cuts will depend on the activity to be performed by the tester since for activities that require great precision and a clear mental state, much stricter parameters will be set, even reaching cut-off levels lower than 20 ng/ml.
Taking this into account, we must say that the duration of THC in the body is not something constant and easily calculable since there is a multitude of factors that intervene directly and indirectly on it. Among these factors we can consider:
- The plant itself: although THC is the element with the most significant presence in marijuana, its concentration will depend on the type of plant it is. Besides, the procedures carried out by the grower also influence its concentration and quality, either by the care and feeding of the plant, in addition to the time of harvest, which, as we have already explained in other publications, is one of the most influential moments in determining the quantity and quality of THC, since a very premature harvest can lead to obtaining a poorly oxygenated and immature THC. Simultaneously, if the harvest is carried out too late, an oxidized THC will be obtained and therefore “Past,” which means that it will achieve neither the effects nor the desired flavor.
- The amount of marijuana consumed.
- The form of consumption: it is proven that how marijuana is consumed will directly affect the absorption of this substance, with the airway being the best way to obtain it, that is, smoking it. Consumption techniques such as infusions or eating cause very high THC loss rates so that good concentrations of it are not achieved in the body.
- The frequency of consumption: this is the most important variable of all since it is empirically proven that the time of presence of THC in the body is directly proportional to the frequency of consumption. The less we consume it, the less time it will remain in the organism, and vice versa.
Regarding the frequency of consumption, we can classify marijuana users into three main groups:
- First-time users or occasional users: we are talking about those individuals who use for the first time or who do so less than once a month. In these people, THC-COOH will remain latent in the body between 1 and 4 days after consumption, and its concentration will always be below the threshold of 50 ng/ml.
- Regular users: these are those users who use marijuana at least three times a week, and due to this chronic consumption, this substance will be present in the body up to about ten days after consumption, although it will depend on the individual’s metabolism since they have been found cases of presences greater than a month after consumption in regular consumers. The tests always find concentrations around the threshold of 50 ng/ml in these users.
- Extreme users: we are talking about those people who have an addiction that leads them to consume marijuana indiscriminately and repeatedly in a day. These people can take up to 3 months to eliminate THC-COOH from their body, exceeding the average threshold of 50 ng/ml.
THC Tests (blood, saliva, hair, or urine tests)
As we have said before, companies or road and highway safety itself use tests to detect THC in workers’ and drivers’ bodies to determine if they can carry out certain activities.
These tests are very varied, and each one reaches certain effectiveness depending on the element analyzed.
How Long Does THC Last in the Blood
It is difficult to determine how long THC lasts in the blood because it will depend on the amount taken and the frequency.
The blood test is the most effective in the short term. That is why when a traffic accident occurs, for example, the culprit undergoes this test to accurately detect the possible presence of drugs that alter his behavior and reasoning.
With this test, the presence of active THC in the blood can be determined with astonishing accuracy, and there is no way to fool you.
The main problem with this test is that THC will gradually be absorbed into the body’s tissues, so its concentration in the blood decreases relatively quickly after a few hours.
When smoking, absorption is speedy. After approximately 9 minutes is when the maximum levels of THC are obtained.
When 15 minutes pass, this substance in the blood is considerably reduced, reaching shallow levels after two hours. This substance expands to the tissues, and metabolization occurs in the liver.
If a small amount is consumed, it may take 3 to 12 hours to be undetectable. However, it takes even a day or between 7 and 27 hours when dealing with higher doses.
This data is intended for unusual consumers. In regular smokers, THC can be present for up to 1 month after consuming.
Finally, we can conclude that although in the experimentation phase, or with a long history of efficacy, what is clear is that the world of THC is a complex world that has much to offer in the therapeutic field. Scientists have known this for several decades and continue to study and analyze to demonstrate its full potential.
How long does THC last in saliva?
Saliva is the easiest fluid to analyze since it does not require privacy or overly technical means for its analysis.
This test is the most used in companies since it determines whether workers have taken drugs in the hours before their working day. It loses effectiveness from 24 hours after consumption, although, as always, it will depend on the factors mentioned above.
How long does THC last in Urine
Urine tests are the methods with a more extended detection period, extending for days after consumption. Although little by little, they are the most frequent tests, although little by little, they are being replaced by saliva tests that are much more comfortable to perform. If consumed for the first time, the effects can last between 1 and 6 days in urine after consumption.
A person who smokes a little diligently, with an average of 1 or 2 times a month, can give positive urine test results in a period of 7 to 13 days. However, a frequent smoker can take up to two weeks to completely discard this substance.
It is even estimated that frequent smokers can take 45 to 90 days to eliminate this substance from the urine completely.
How long does THC last in hair?
Finally, we have the hair test. It’s the clearest of all since this substance is perpetually fixed in the layers formed after consumption. Besides, it allows the laboratory to determine the time elapsed since consumption accurately.
However, this method’s main disadvantage is that THC also easily adheres to the hair without passing through the body. If we are in an environment where smoking is being carried out, our hair can absorb THC in the air and test positive later.