“Generally incurable and ongoing, chronic diseases affect approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of this country. By 2020, that number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions.” - National Health Council.
THIS. THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.
THIS is why we need to talk about THC more. Fuck talking about psychoactivity – though super stoked so many of people agree that getting high is great. But THC is ~ S O M U C H M O R E ~ than just getting high.
We need to talk more about how THC is the best natural stimulant of both CB1 and CB2 receptors that human's have. If you don't know about these receptors, see The Endocannabinoid System post and/or click the yellow banner to access the free course, The Endocannabinoid System for Medicine Makers (which is filled with pdfs of scientific studies for your library). A brief recap:
---> CB1 receptors are found in heavy concentration in the brain, and on nerve cells throughout the body. They primarily manage things like pain, anxiety, and nausea.
---> CB2 receptors are typically found outside the brain, particularly in organs of the immune system, the GI, and on inflammatory cells. Their main purpose is to monitor inflammation, which is an immune response to various irritants.
Again this is a pretty broad summary, read more things than this before you start spewing hCbR facts. In a healthy body, these cannabinoid receptors utilize their own (endogenous) cannabinoids – meaning cannabinoids that our bodies make – to manage minor dysfunctions as they arise (think stubbing your toe).
THC fits directly into both CB1 and CB2 receptors, replicating the endocannabinoids our body produces. Contrarily, CBD does NOT directly interact with the Endocannabind System (ECS) through these receptors. Instead, CBD supplements the body's cannabinoid-producing capabilities by deterring the actions of FAAH, an enzyme that breaks cannabinoids down (aka the reason Cannabis' effects don't last forever). By stalling the breakdown of cannabinoids, the body (in theory) has time to better utilize the endocannabinoids it produces, and potentially back-stock them. For more on this, see Cannabinoids.
To backtrack a second, I'm not saying THC is necessary for everyone.
According to that National Health Council statistic, 60% of the people who read this will see SERIOUS results from CBD alone. And that's a lot of you - the majority even! But when CBD-centered companies push their product without acknowledging the 40% it might not help, they're just as misleading as a company calling a hemp seed oil product ~cannabis infused~. When these companies talk solely about stimulating CB1 receptors as "what produces psychoactive effects" and THC as "the cannabinoid that gets you high", it's a serious disservice to the full potential of this plant and all her medicinally magical compounds.
It's an increasingly accepted theory that Endocannabinoid Deficiency plays a large role in chronic disease. Since the accepted purpose of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is to maintain a balanced state of health within the body, a diseased body would indicate an improperly functioning ECS. Click here for a general guideline on how to objectively determine the state of your ECS.
In short, minor illnesses signify a minor imbalance of cannabinoid production. Chronic illness indicates a severe and/or sustained endocannabinoid balance. If the body is producing 95% of the cannabinoids it needs to maintain balance, CBD is going to be the perfect boost to reach 100%. However, if your body is only producing 10% of the endocannabinoids it needs to bring the body back to balance, supplementing it with moderate doses of CBD isn't going to be enough. You'll find including THC - especially in combination with CBD - to be much more effective.
What about THCa? The acidic cannabinoid is the precursor to THC and gets toted for being non-psychoactive and a potent anti-inflammatory. Except recent research is conflicting, and describes THCa as a weak cannabinoid. In a study published last year, entitled “Affinity and Efficacy Studies of Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid A at Cannabinoid Receptor Types One and Two”, John McPartland + Team find that THCa-A (as opposed to THCa-B, yeah, confusing and possibly skewing) is 62x less effective than THC at stimulating CB1 receptors, and 125x less effective than THC at stimulating CB2 receptors. This means that it takes 62mg THCa-A to have the same effects at CB1 receptors as 1 mg THC. At CB2 receptors, it would take 125mg THCa-A to have the same effects as 1mg THC.
Most often the effects of THCa are discussed in the context of juicing fan leaves, and it's important to remember that juicing fan leaves produces anti-inflammatory effects because they're high in beta caryophyllene, not because they're high in THCa.
As for that THCa-A vs. THCa-B thing, researchers are now hypothesizing (post before-mentioned experiment) that THCa-B is the more stable version of THCa, and the one industry extractors are likely working with. This is definitely one of those areas where ya show your hands, back out slowly, and admit “more research is needed”. For now, if you're trying to have a serious effect on our ECS, save your money and go for the tried, the true, the decarbed - THC.
So, why are the miracles of CBD screamed from mountain tops, yet there's barely a whisper in comparison about how effective THC is?
1) Legality. CBD is legal therefore its accessible. THC is only legal to very few, very select populations, making it inaccessible.
2) Technicality. Trust me, if CBD companies could legally include THC - they would. Herbivore Botanicals recently launched a Hemp Seed Oil based product, and admitted they hope to one day at CBD to the formula as the gray areas clear.
But see - transparency doesn't sell products. Cannabis companies curate the research they share to promote their bottom line. A CBD company isn't going to point out that there's a chance your ECS is fucked and their product might not make the same difference for you as a product with THC + CBD might. That's a lost sale!
THESE ARE BOTH SHITTY EXCUSES THOUGH!
It doesn't change the fact that most people still access THC illegally. That fact isn't going to change until the federal government gives every person the right to access it legally, and in a way that is a financially sustainable. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, we should be focused on normalizing the Cannabis plant in all its glory - THC and CBD alike.
Yet, the Cannabis Black Market is probably the greatest example of ignorance is bliss our generation will have. Admittedly that's a strong exaggeration, but it's important to honor the fact that regulated Cannabis - very literally - WOULD NOT EXIST if it weren't for the perseverance of the black market community.
But whatever, as an industry trying to co-brand with "wellness", we don't actually REALLY talk about THC because for the most part, it's still illegal.
We don't talk about it because encouraging someone to buy something unregulated brings with it a slew of risks that in a sue-happy world isn't worth it for anyone.
We don't talk about black market Cannabis because we aren't supposed to.
SO, I'm going to start talking about Cannabis from an unregulated perspective, and you should just know there's a disclaimer attached to my work. In jest, it states that while we're all in this together, if blue lights flicker behind you - you're ultimately on your own homie.
ONE MORE THING
There's another reason we don't talk about THC more. It's got a history. A stigma. A bad rap.
THC = psychoactive. Psychoactive = intoxicating. Intoxicating = bad. Rinse and repeat as necessary. It's a bullshit narrative ladden with misconceptions, and we're running it into the ground.
The reality is that THC helps with pain. It helps with sadness and anxiety. It's like a warm blanket on a cold day.
We don't talk about THC in the way we talk about CBD, for the same reasons that we shy away from talking about mental health. No one wants to acknowledge that life is crazy hard some times, or that being human means feeling intense emotions. No one wants to admit they need help being happy, or that they need help dealing with pain.
Shifting stigmas requires facing them head on. Talking about these thing is the best way to normalize them. Education and access to information changes lives. There are ways to use THC - be it alone or with CBD (best!) - to get that relief, without ‘losing yourself to being stoned.
I use THC to support my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
What do you use it for?