The Surprising Truth about Pure THC Drugs
Why Growing and Smoking Marijuana is Better for Your Health
Synthetic THC has been available in various forms for many years. A drug called dronabinol (brand name Marinol®) is a pure synthetic THC capsule prescribed by doctors for the treatment of nausea, vomiting and anorexia. This DEA approved drug is responsible for a whole host of nasty side effects, and it is less effective than smoking marijuana.
While its recreational and medicinal use has been legalized in various states, marijuana remains federally prohibited as a Schedule 1 Drug, which means it has “no currently accepted medical uses”. Here are the reasons that smoking home-grown marijuana is healthier than consuming pure THC replacements.
Patients report that smoking marijuana does a better job of relieving their symptoms and creates fewer side effects than pure THC. Common side effects of dronabinol include anxiety, depression, paranoia and depersonalization. The latter is a frightening experience of losing one’s identity and feeling like one doesn’t really exist.
Why the difference between pure THC and marijuana?
Smoking vs. Oral Consumption
If you have ever enjoyed marijuana edibles, you know that the experience of eating THC is very different from smoking it. There are a few things happening:
- The liver changes THC into a more psychoactive molecule.
- Digested THC passes through the liver, where about 50% of it is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC, a molecule is four times more psychoactive than THC, according to a 1981 study by Brown published in Inhaled THC enters the bloodstream without undergoing this conversion.
- Swallowed THC is poorly and erratically absorbed.
- Absorption rates of ingested THC vary wildly from day to day, depending on the state of the patient’s digestive tract. This means that it is hard to predict the effects of any given dose of ingested THC, making prescribing an effective dose difficult and raising the chances of negative side effects.
- Swallowed THC has a slow onset time.
- It takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for ingested THC to take effect, while inhaled THC acts in just minutes.
- Patients with severe nausea or anorexia may not be able to swallow pills
- For patients with the very problems pure THC is supposed to treat, the method of administration may be unrealistic.
More important than the method of administration is something called synergy, which is the result of “polypharmacy.” Basically, marijuana contains other compounds that mediate the effects of THC, boosting its positive actions while minimizing its negative side effects.
Carlini wrote in a British Journal of Pharmacology study in 1974 that the effects of marijuana are “two or four times greater than that expected from its THC content”.
While THC is the dominant active molecule in marijuana, other molecules like cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids act together to produce the overwhelmingly positive effects of smoking cannabis.
Here are five benefits of the synergistic action of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids:
1. Relieve Anxiety.
All three types of molecules help to alleviate anxiety induced by THC. Let’s see how:
- Clinical trials show that CBD decreases anxiety and other psychological side effects of THC. It also has sedative properties.
- Cannabichromene (CBC) lowers the heart rate and eases anxiety.
- Flavonoids, the molecules that give marijuana its smell and flavor, reduce anxiety.
- A common cannabis flavonoid is Apigenin, the active ingredient in chamomile. It has a calming effect that gently relieves anxiety and helps the patient sleep peacefully.
2. Alleviate Depression
The synergistic action of cannabinoids and terpenes acts as a powerful anti-depressant.
- Cannabinoids like CBD, CBN and CBG bind to neurotransmitters in the same ways as common anti-depressant drugs.
- Some are serotonin uptake inhibitors (that’s how Prozac® works)
- Others boost norepinephrine activity (like tricycle anti-depressants)
- Some increase dopamine activity (makes you feel happy)
- Others elevate GABA availability (calming, anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant effects)
- Many terpenes have similar effects, modulating depression and anxiety through serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and GABA
3. Decrease Memory Loss
THC causes short-term memory loss by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the brain.
- Terpenes like limonene, cymene and fenchone boost acetylcholine activity, canceling out the effects of THC on memory.
- The terpene 1,8-cineole improves blood flow to the brain which boosts acticity in the frontal cortex, using the same mechanism as Ginko biloba.
4. Support the Immune System
On its own, THC can suppress the immune system by stimulating the release of stress hormones. Terpenes inhibit this release, negating the harmful effect of THC on the immune system.
Where is the protection for your immune system in a pure THC drug like dronabinol?
5. Fight Cancer
While THC is not carcinogenic in and of itself, burning marijuana does produce tar compounds that can harm your lungs. Terpenes and flavonoids come to the rescue:
- Terpenes like Limonene block the carcinogenic action of tar compounds.
- Limonene is being studied as a treatment for breast cancer and as a preventative agent for lung and testicular cancer.
- Flavonoids counteract carcinogenic effects of marijuana smoke by inhibiting tumor growth.
What about Smoking Pure THC?
Is smoking pure THC any better than consuming it orally? A review article by Tashkin published in the American Review of Respiratory Diseases compiles studies showing that smoking pure THC creates more irritation in the throat and trachea than smoking marijuana. Why?
- CBD in marijuana has a powerful pain killing effect and inhibits inflammation.
- CBD, CBN, CBG and CBC all have stronger anti-oxidant effects than THC alone, reducing inflammation more effectively.
- Flavonoids can also act as strong anti-inflammatory agents.
Grow and Smoke Real Marijuana for the Best Health Benefits
The takeaway from all this? The real thing is better than any lab-manufactured replacement. Marijuana works as well as it does to treat so many symptoms because of the synergistic action of hundreds of molecules. Cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids all come together to relieve pain, nausea, anxiety and inflammation.
While THC is the most famous of the chemicals present in marijuana due to its high concentration and psychoactive effects, the other molecules are equally important. This is one special plant, which cannot be simplified or put in a pill in separate pieces. Marijuana is a holistic medicine. The individual components will never have the powerful impact of the entire plant.
Growing your own cannabis at home for personal use allows you to maximize the terpene and flavonoid content of your bud. The way you harvest and cure your buds will affect the levels of various cannabinoids in the plant. Different strains feature different levels of terpenes and flavonoids, so you can choose the best marijuana strain for your needs. To get the full benefits of smoking real marijuana, grow your own.