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How Does THC Work and What does it do to Your Body

How Does THC Work and What does it do to Your Body

Last updated on August 30th, 2018

In this guide we are going to talk about the most famous cannabinoid out there, THC. We are going to go through how THC actually works, what it does in your body and what effects that may have. We are also going to touch on the raw previous version of THC, THC-A.

We cannot make any medical claims because of laws in this country and this is not meant to sell you on unproven facts. That is why we have created this guide, we are talking everything we know to be true and combining it with the latest research to give you the understanding of what is truly going on. 

Whether you just scan the post or really get into it and extract all the information, we know you will find it useful.

THC is short for Tetrahydrocannabinol

For this we will assume you have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system, if not, we suggest you take a look at our guide on the endocannabinoid system.

How THC Effects the Endocannabinoid system and what is it good/bad for?

THC comes from the plant in its raw form THC-A which in turn was created by the cannabinoid CBG-A (cannabigerol)

When you smoke or heat THC-A it decarboxylates and becomes THC. There are other ways to turn THC-A into THC but the important thing is it is not something we can do in our body. 

So we ingest THC via whatever method we choose, but that does the THC do then?

There are two main cannabinoid receptors in your body, CB1 and CB2. The reason that THC binds to these receptors is that it is similar in structure to the endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG which our body produces naturally as and when needed.

It is anandamide that is responsible for the ‘runners high’ that people report, it is the anandamide triggering the CB1 receptors. 

CB1 is more commonly found in the central nervous system and the brain. It is the one that is responsible for the THC having an effect and getting you ‘high’. So you will find these CB1 receptors mostly around the brain and down the spinal column.


CB1 receptors are the ones responsible for the ‘high’ feeling you get when having THC in your system. Exactly what effects it has depends on the amount of receptors in locations of your brain and around your body.

The CB1 receptor could also be responsible for the increase in appetite, or munchies. The reason is, CB1 is also involved with the receptor for ghrelin, a hormone that contributes to an increase in the sensation of hunger.
Depending on where in your body the receptors are, they work in slightly different ways. 

CB1 in the stomach area can secrete ghrelin which can both make you more hungry but also reduce nausea which is a huge plus for reasons people love THC, particularity with people fighting conditions such as AIDS or cancer.

Because of these receptors in the gut cannabis can help folks suffering from severe GI-tract diseases like Crohn’s and irritable bowel syndrome.

CB2 is more commonly found outside your central nervous system in your peripheral nervous system(which runs around the rest of your body), or your immune system and other locations.


CB2 receptors have been the subject of considerable attention, primarily due to their promising therapeutic potential for treating various conditions while avoiding the psychological effects that can accompany CB1 receptor–based therapies.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is observed to help as an anti inflammatory through the CB2 receptor and that it helps with osteoarthritis. 

The CB2 recpetor is also linked to boosting the you immune system which can help with numerous issues by helping the immune regulation. This could help with alzimers, HIV, ALS and many other things.

As well as the above the CB2 receptor has also been linked to pain relief in many studies around the world

THC also is an agonist for the orphan receptor GPR55 which some people have dubbed the third cannabinoid receptor. 

We touched on this in the CBD guide we did where we found that CBD does the exact opposite of THC and is an antagonist of the GPR55 receptor.

So unfortunately not all good news for THC as the GPR55 receptor has been linked to cancer cell proliferation and osteoporosis.

That being said there is much more research to be done to confirm exactly what is going on, and is why a mix of cannabinoids can help hugely. It is also why CBD is suggested to be so great for conditions caused by the GPR55 as it actually inhibits the receptor from working properly.

THC has shown promising results in multiple studies about how it can both slow down, stop and possibly kill cancer cells for various cancers

The relaxing and calming effects of THC are also attributed to helping with insomnia and could help lots of people with their sleep.

Another thing that has been observed in a study is that THC could have a positive effect on ADHD. Although this particular study was on a very small group of people.

THC Summary

We have found out that THC has an effect in a lot of places, mainly the CB1 receptors that control things in our brain like memory, dopamine, cognitive function and so on.

But also in our CB2 receptors that control things like our immune system and pain. 

THC effects the receptors in sometimes similar ways to the natural endocannabinoids that our body produces like anandamide and 2-AG.

The truth is there are loads of conditions and ailments that THC is rumoured to help, and there is growing science to back them up, and certainly for some things it is pretty much proven. 

We hope that the guide has helped you get a better understanding of what THC does inside your body and where the effects come from.

See you next time!

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