The Different Types of THC & Their Benefits
While cannabis has been stigmatized as an illegal drug for decades, the advent of legalization on the medical level and in some states for recreational use has shown that our bodies may need cannabis and its cannabinoids in order to maintain our health and wellness. THC varietals are just a few of the 113+ cannabinoids that interact with our endocannabinoid system and help us live a happier, more productive life. Do you have health concerns you feel might benefit from the use of medicinal cannabis? Take our 5-minute eligibility survey to see if you pre-qualify for a Florida medical marijuana recommendation. You can schedule an appointment online to speak with one of our Florida Medical Cannabis Doctors to learn how to help you treat your conditions most effectively.
Scientists and other researchers are discovering more about the cannabis plant with every passing year. As they learn more about the plant, its components and their properties are becoming increasingly evident. THC is possibly the most popular cannabinoid. It is one of a handful of chemicals in the cannabis plant that has therapeutic effects in addition to the “high” often associated with ingesting all or part of it through one of many methods. There are 4 major types of THC present in the cannabis plant. They are THCA, THCV, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-9 THC. They all have somewhat different properties and medical benefits.
THCA exists in the stems, leaves, and flowers of the cannabis plant. It is the only one of the four types of THC that has no psychoactive or mind-altering properties. The psychoactive effects of THC are caused as the chemical’s molecule attaches to CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system; THCA’s structure doesn’t fit these receptors. It is, however, the source of the other 3 types of THC. This process is stimulated by applying heat and light to THCA. Sunlight and natural aging can cause the conversion of small amounts of THCA to its counterparts; the process can also be enhanced through applying heat in other ways known collectively as decarboxylation. Heating the THCA molecule causes it to change its chemical composition and shape, making it able to fit into the body’s CB1 receptors.
The benefits of THCA are not solely in its function as the chemical parent of THCV, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-9 THC. It has therapeutic properties of its own. Current research has found THCA to be beneficial even in small amounts to help treat the following conditions:
- Nausea and loss of appetite due to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments
- Inflammation (swelling of muscles or other tissues)
- Chronic pain
- Other conditions resulting in muscle spasms such as MS and ALS
These therapeutic benefits can best be obtained by eating or otherwise ingesting the cannabis plant in its raw form, either through juicing, adding the leaves to smoothies, or even putting them in a salad if you are feeling adventurous. Talk to one of our Florida Medical Cannabis Doctors to see if this route might be a good option for you.
THCV is another byproduct of THCA breakdown. While it is similar to Delta-9THC, it has some distinct differences. First of all, it does not have mind-altering properties in low doses; however, when you use a strain high in THCV or take a high dose of it, the effects change and you will get a clear, stimulating high. Though the effects of THCV do not last as long as Delta-9 THC, you may find you feel them more rapidly. It also has a higher boiling point (428°F vs 314°F), so people who choose to vape it need to turn their devices up to reap its benefits. If making edibles, you may not get the full effect of THCV without sacrificing some of the Delta-9 THC and other cannabinoids as they begin to degrade at higher temperatures.
One significant difference between THCV and its better-known cannabinoid cousin: It actually functions as an appetite suppressant instead of making you hungry. It can, in fact, even limit the actions of Delta-9 THC that give you the munchies. Scientists have found that if you are looking for a strain of cannabis to help you lose weight, a strain high in THCV and CBD will work better than one with comparable amounts of THCV and Delta-9THC.
Aside from acting as an appetite suppressant, THCV can help patients with the following issues:
- Diabetes, especially type II glucose intolerance related to obesity
- Pain and swelling (inflammation)
- Tremors from Parkinson’s and ALS
- Brain lesions from late-stage Parkinson’s
- Because it stimulates bone growth, it can be used for people with osteoporosis and related conditions
Strains high in THCV include Pineapple Purps, Ace of Spades, Doug’s Varin, Durban Poison, Power Plant, Willie Nelson, Jack the Ripper, and other African Sativa strains.
As Delta-9 THC ages and is exposed to oxidation, it is converted to Delta-8 THC. This conversion process makes the resulting cannabinoid stable when exposed to air, which could increase its potential applications.
Delta-8 THC is not as potent as its sister cannabinoid, but it does still produce a high. The euphoric feeling produced tends to be less intense than what might be experienced with Delta-9 THC, and you may experience a more clear-headed and energetic result. Utilizing CBD with Delta-8 THC will further decrease any mind-altering effects experienced by the user.
This cannabinoid has several health benefits of its own:
- Decreases nausea and vomiting
- Helps protect brain cells (neuroprotectant)
- Reduces anxiety
- Stimulates appetite
- Helps relieve pain (analgesic)
- Can reduce the size of tumors
- Helps cause the release of acetylcholine, which is involved in memory and learning
Since Delta-8 THC is extracted by breaking down Delta-9 THC, it can be processed from many different strains. Speak with a Florida Medical Cannabis Doctor to find one that might work for you.
Delta-9 THC, or what is commonly referred to as THC, is the main psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant. Found in both male and female cannabis plants, the concentration is much higher in female plants. It is interesting to note that while THC is in its raw form (THCA), it has no mind-altering properties. This only happens as decarboxylation occurs and heat alters the original molecule into one that can bind with the cannabinoid receptors in our body, located in the endocannabinoid system, to produce that euphoric feeling known as a “high.”
There are many health benefits associated with THC:
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Increases appetite
- Relieves pain
- Decreases nausea and vomiting
- Helps protect brain cells
- Promotes brain growth
- Helps PTSD sufferers
- Enhances our senses
- Antibacterial properties
- Antioxidant effects
- Reduces swelling and pain
- Acts as a bronchodilator, opening the airways and helping with conditions like asthma
- Relaxes the muscles
- Shows promise in battling tumors
- Has anti-convulsant or anti-seizure properties
Some high-THC strains include Girl Scout Cookies, Ghost OG, Bruce Banner, Chemdawg, GG4, and Cherry Pie.
One of our Florida Medical Cannabis Doctors can help you find out which variety or varieties of THC will be most helpful for your medical conditions.