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Does THC Affect the Body?


Mounting research shows that THC not only has psychoactive benefits but also physical benefits. While more substantial scientific research is needed, THC could hold some amazing medical benefits for the body, not unlike its cannabis counterpart CBD. THC has been cultivated, used and celebrated by different cultures worldwide for eons, and it’s no surprise why! 

What Exactly is THC?

THC means delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the predominant psychoactive compound out of the 113 compounds found in the cannabis plant, and is the one in charge of giving you your “high.” After you ingest or inhale cannabis, THC enters the bloodstream, is carried to the brain, and binds to the many cannabinoid receptors found in specific areas of the brain that regulate our mood, senses, and cognitive function. But does THC affect the body? The answer is yes! Let’s review the more common understanding of THC, and explore some new frontiers being researched in terms of how THC can affect the body. 

How THC Affects Us (Common Uses and Effects)

THC is generally consumed via two methods: inhalation of smoked bud or ingestion via edibles or oils. There’s no catch-all in terms of how THC makes a person feel. Many factors like genetics, time of day, energy levels, stress levels, weight, thirst, hunger, and so forth can impact how a person experiences THC. Generally speaking, THC produces both a relaxing and euphoric effect for cannabis users. It can influence a person to feel introspective and alone, or it can influence a person to feel very bubbly and social. While some people report getting anxiety from THC, others say it completely calms their nerves and puts them at ease. From a scientific perspective, THC floods the dopamine receptors of the brain, causing a rush of the chemical which is responsible for making people feel a sense of pleasure and reward. 

Inhaling vs Ingesting THC

When a person inhales THC versus ingesting it, the effects can be quite different with the latter affecting the body much more. When you smoke or vaporize cannabis, THC enters your lungs where it passes directly into your bloodstream and then to your brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. The high takes hold quite quickly, and also passes within about an hour. 

This is quite different from edible cannabis, which travels first to your stomach and then to your liver before entering your bloodstream and brain. This is why it can take up to an hour to feel edibles, and also why the high can last a lot longer. For this reason, ingesting cannabis is generally understood to be more of a body high than smoking it. Many users of edible cannabis report the “high” feeling much less psychoactive and more like a deep “body buzz” for many hours. 

Using THC Topically  

THC has a number of reported benefits for the body when used topically in the form of a tincture, oil, or cream. Topicals with THC create an effect through the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the skin. This leads to a series of scientific events within the body that can bring about pain relief, enhanced healing, and decreased inflammation. Many people report that using cannabis topicals with THC improves various conditions like cramps, arthritis, muscle soreness, headaches, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Different cannabis topicals will offer different benefits based upon how they’re created, so it’s worthwhile to experiment to see what’s best for you! 

The Body’s Various System Responses to THC

THC has a distinct effect on five different systems within the body: our circulatory system, respiratory system, nervous system, digestive system, and immune system. 

When THC is taken, it can make the heart beat faster and can raise blood pressure directly after using it. For some, this is important to be mindful of as the rush of the circulatory system can cause fear, anxiety, or paranoia. To ensure this doesn’t happen, THC users are always encouraged to “start low, go slow”. Use products not too high in THC, and take it gradually. 

Similarly, your respiratory system is worth being mindful of. Smoking cannabis can aggravate existing respiratory illnesses, like asthma and cystic fibrosis. If you have weak lungs or a compromised respiratory system, edibles or oils are recommended over smoking or vaping. 

The nervous system is believed to be impacted by THC in a positive and soothing manner, because of its ability to treat pain and inflammation, and to stop muscle spasms and seizures. Because the THC in cannabis directly interacts with dopamine receptors which work with the central nervous system, it’s important to start sparingly to not throw your nervous system on too much of a “high”. 

Since THC also causes the “munchies”, it is often given to patients with cancer or AIDS to increase appetite. This effect on the digestive system is worth considering, if you’re trying to stimulate your appetite. And if you’re not trying to gain weight… remember that THC can trick your stomach into thinking it’s a lot hungrier than it is!

Much further research is needed, but scientists do know THC also affects the immune system. So far, it is generally understood that THC positively impacts those with autoimmune disorders, while those without should be careful that THC doesn’t suppress their immune system to the point of encouraging their body to fall ill. But a lot more research is admittedly needed on humans to completely understand the immune system effects. 

THC Body Benefits

To recap, THC doesn’t only affect our neurochemistry; inhaling or ingesting THC also affects the body in numerous ways. It’s exciting to see new research released as scientists continue to explore the mostly uncharted world of cannabis THC. One thing we know: like anything, moderation is key. Use THC carefully and start sparingly, especially if you’re a newcomer to weed. Because different strains of cannabis vary so greatly, it can take a little experimentation to treat your specific needs, desires, conditions or symptoms. Stay curious, and remain open! 

That being said, the potential benefits of taking THC are vast and deserve to be explored. Tier1 has a great selection of cannabis products. Check out our products online today!

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