THC and Your Body

We clear the haze around THC

You probably know by now that THC is the active ingredient in cannabis responsible for getting you high. This small but mighty compound, also known by its full name Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for the euphoric intoxication, and the viscerally unpleasant, greenout, someone-call-my-mom intoxication.

How does THC work?

So… how do you know which experience will be yours? Sit tight as we clear the haze around THC, giving some insight on how it works in your body, and how to guide comfortable, pleasant encounters with this multifaceted molecule.

According to the general understanding, THC appears to work mainly by taking the place of chemical compounds that the body naturally creates, called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are messengers that cause changes to the chemical signals that cells receive from each other.

While many bodily systems are influenced by endocannabinoids, these chemical messengers are heavily concentrated in the central nervous systems. This is important because without nervous system involvement, we wouldn’t be able to experience a cannabis “high.”

THC piggybacks on your endocannabinoid system, commandeering the landing sites on cells that are usually reserved for your body’s naturally produced compounds. The result? A cascade of chemical changes in the brain and the body. Changes in mood, emotion, memory, movement, and the perception of time are all potential outcomes after consuming THC.

What happens when you're high

Each person’s experience with THC is unique. Some people may feel relaxed, upbeat, and silly, while others might feel quiet and more withdrawn. And while some may appear to have a naturally high tolerance for THC, other people are more sensitive to its effects.

Mindset and setting can have an impact on the way you experience THC, but the response is also partly genetic. Some people, for example, may be genetically more likely to experience anxiety with THC than others.

Most of the effects of THC are acute, meaning that they are only present while you’re high*. You’re not guaranteed to feel these things, but some of the most commonly reported short-term effects of THC include:

Dry eyes
Dry mouth
Slower motor coordination
Altered time perception

How long does being high last anyway?

Great question, and the answer is—depends. The way you consume is going to directly affect how long you feel the impact of THC. If you’re inhaling cannabis, the effects typically kick in almost immediately and some effects can linger for as long as 24 hours. Don’t forget, once the high has worn off, you might feel a little drowsier than before.

Oral and edible cannabis is a different story. When you ingest THC, the active effects not only take longer to present themselves but last a lot longer as well. In fact, you might feel the active effects of an edible or capsule up to 12 hours after consuming, with some effects lasting for up to 24 hours. Plan accordingly.

Why dosage is key

A little THC goes a long way. In science-y circles, the word biphasic gets thrown around when describing the effects of THC. Broken down, the word means nothing more than “two phases.” Certain studies suggest that the effects of THC can often come in two phases, and the dose you consume influences the phase you experience. In low to moderate doses, THC may be more likely to produce positive benefits like stress and anxiety relief than when a high dosage is consumed, according to some studies.

Go too far, however, and THC are more likely to cause anxiety, paranoia, and may produce effects that are opposite of what you intended. Some cannabis partakers find that the ratio of THC to CBD impacts how they experience the high, and that more balanced ratios produce milder highs. At the risk of sounding repetitive, we cannot stress enough—start low and go slow.

Should I consume THC every day?

Your body is a clever thing. Consider the coffee drinker. The novice consumer will feel the effects of caffeine quite potently, yet as they become accustomed to the ritual of the morning cup, the less likely they are to experience that same buzz.

When you consume THC often enough, the same thing can happen. Developing a tolerance to THC is similar to losing sensitivity to the cannabinoid, as well as for the endocannabinoids that your body produces naturally.

While you’ll still be able to experience the effects of THC, your body will become accustomed to the regular input.

If you consume THC every day, your tolerance might make some withdrawal symptoms more likely. These can include difficulty sleeping, headache, and irritability.

Just like anything, balance is important. Focus on moderation, and If you like to consume regularly, consider taking a tolerance break every now and again. Your body will thank you.

* Health Canada Guidelines indicate that individuals may feel the effects of cannabis for up to 24 hours after consumption.

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