If you don’t know anything else about THC, at least know this.
1. THC is fat-soluble
THC is a lipid and likes the company of other lipids. That’s why cannabis cooks use fats to extract THC and other cannabinoids from bud and trimmings to make medicated edibles. Coconut oil and clarified butter perform the best in extraction tests, but you can use just about any kind of fat, even bacon grease if you want.
What this also means is that after smoking marijuana, THC and other cannabinoids are stored in the fatty tissue of your body until it can be broken down during metabolism and excreted. That’s why detectable traces can linger in your body long after you’ve last used marijuana—sometimes up to two weeks prior.
2. THC is essential to our bodies
We have an endocannabinoid system with cannabinoid receptors specifically made for endocannabinoids (chemical compounds produced within our bodies), and phytocannabinoids (chemical compounds from plants, of which cannabis has high concentrations). THC fits our endocannabinoid system like keys fit locks to help regulate many of our vital systems—respiratory, circulatory, and neurological.
3. THC increases memory and learning capacity in mice (and maybe us)
The research is fresh, however, studies are already showing that THC not only doesn’t kill brain cells, but it also helps them. (Thanks for nothing, DARE!) THC is a “neuroprotectant” in that it protects brain cells from the damage of inflammation and oxidative stress.
4. THC impairs young minds
The psychoactive compound in marijuana may cause structural brain changes, according to brain scans done on in teens and young adults, as well as research on young animals. So far, experts conclude that THC could impair cognition up to 25 years old.
5. The human body makes its own THC
In 1992, a team of doctors led by Dr. Mechoulam discovered a molecule called anandamide. We produce the cannabinoid anandamide in various parts of the body, including the brain, to regulate mood, sleep, memory and appetite. The chemical acts like Tetrahydrocannabinol, except that we produce it in much smaller amounts.
6. Exercise re-releases THC into the bloodstream
As you burn fat, the THC stored in that fat get re-released into your bloodstream causing a little more than just the runner’s high associated with endorphins released through exercise. THC blood levels increased by approximately 15% immediately after participants in this study engaged in moderate exercise. And that low-key magic power can last up to 28 days after using weed.
7. You’re probably secreting the stuff right now
Urine tests aren’t the only way to see whether someone has consumed THC in the recent past. Trace amounts of it can be excreted in sweat, as well as in skin and hair oils. Those are petty amounts when you consider how much of it comes out in your stool. A study from 2012 indicates more than 65 percent of THC consumed is excreted in the feces, compared to only 20 percent excreted in urine.
Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.