Health benefits of THC and THC oil
There are over 100 known cannabinoids in cannabis, but the stars of the show have always been THC and CBD. As medical marijuana grows in popularity around the world, CBD oils, edibles and dried flower are increasingly a favourite choice.
This is mainly because Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis and the culprit responsible for the "high". For some people, this side effect is not revered and is even spurned by many.
The stigma around THC being responsible for unproductive 'pot-heads', short term memory loss, and other risks has hindered the plant’s path to legality in Australia. Both medically and recreationally.
However, despite this sometimes true, but mostly exaggerated, view of THC - it has several important physical and psychological health benefits.
In this article, we will briefly explore the potential benefits of THC and THC oil.
What is THC oil?
The biggest difference between THC oil, CBD oil and Hemp oil is the concentration of each compound. THC oil will have a higher concentration of THC but will still contain CBD, sometimes in almost equal quantities.
To avoid confusion, when discussing marijuana, cannabis or THC oil, they almost always mean the same thing. These oils have high concentrations of THC and will most certainly have a psychoactive effect. This used to be the biggest selling point for hardcore cannabis enthusiasts, but the medicinal benefits are becoming more recognised.
High-quality THC oils should come from medical-grade cannabis plants and are created from the resin of female plants.
Benefits of THC
If you do a quick Google search, you'll be bombarded by CBD oil benefits backed up by scientific research and anecdotal claims. This is not the case with THC. For some, the psychoactive side effects are not worth the benefits.
But for those of you that are comfortable with the psychoactive properties, there are plenty of benefits to reap from THC.
THC for loss of appetite treatment
This is high up on the list of THC benefits because in treating loss of appetite with cannabis, it is uniquely THC that is the remedy. CBD doesn't play a role in this department.
For people with eating disorders or HIV related anorexia, and for those struggling to eat as a side effect of disease or medication, THC can be massively beneficial.
What is affectionately referred to as 'the munchies' by some cannabis users, is an effect of the CB1 receptor interacting with THC. This, in turn, stimulates the appetite. It is mostly high-THC strains that trigger this response.
Extreme appetite loss is a common side effect of chronic illness and reduces recovery rate and quality of life. The way in which cannabis affects appetite can be a simple solution for this.
THC for insomnia
Another benefit of THC that is not commonly associated with CBD is its ability to treat insomnia.
THC's research-backed effect on sleep has mostly been a byproduct of broader studies. However, within these limited studies, cannabinoids have been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce sleep disturbances.
Studies such as this one
 show a positive correlation between cannabis use and greater sleep time in middle-aged people.
There are several causes of insomnia, ranging from anxiety to chronic pain. Recurring nightmares, often caused by PTSD, can also severely disrupt sleep. Research shows that cannabis reduces REM sleep
, which is the sleep cycle in which dreams occur. For PTSD sufferers, THC Oil may offer relief from insomnia brought on by trauma associated sleep disorder.
THC for pain
It is difficult for sufferers of chronic pain to find effective long-term solutions. Prescription medication is oftentimes too risky for long term use, with nasty side effects. Treating pain has for a long time been one of the most celebrated benefits of cannabis use.
"Treating pain has for a long time been one of the most celebrated benefits of cannabis use"
Cannabis, and especially THC, has shown positive improvements in patients with Multiple Sclerosis for a range of symptoms including pain.
While CBD oil is an extremely effective painkiller, there is research that suggests that THC may work better or in conjunction with CBD for spasticity and cramp related pain. There has been a focus on cannabis and MS as a result.
THC for nausea & cancer related symptoms
Advocates of medical cannabis will often cite the incredible benefits of integrating cannabis into cancer care
Chemotherapy commonly induces long-lasting symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, insomnia, and extreme loss of appetite.
Chemo induced nausea and vomiting is extremely severe, occurring almost immediately after treatment. Many patients do not respond to over the counter drugs but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cannabis strains with high THC are effective in reducing emesis.
Potential side-effects of THC Oil
For those of you considering experimenting with THC recreationally or medically, there are some potential side-effects to consider:
Increased heart rate
Short term memory loss
It is always recommended to start with a low dosage of THC oil and gradually increase it according to your needs and physical reactions.
The entourage effect
CBD has somewhat overshadowed THC in the modern medical field. In Australia, CBD isolates are dominating the medicinal market. However, we are starting to see an increase in the number of full-spectrum and whole cannabis plant products being prescribed. Many clinical studies have been conducted to solidify the theory behind the “entourage effect“
This term is often used to describe the improved therapeutic benefits of consuming the full spectrum of compounds within the cannabis plant. The "full spectrum" refers to the full array of compounds including cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, other minor cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids in the cannabis plant. When consumed together, they are known to interact with one another and the receptors within our body to provide far superior effects and health benefits.
Is THC legal in Australia?
Unfortunately, THC is not legal in Australia. THC is classified as a schedule 8 drug in most Australian jurisdictions. However, it is still possible to access THC products with a valid medical prescription.
Although, it's no easy feat for the doctors, who need to get approval from the TGA and a permit from the state health department.
If you'd like to find out more on the process for accessing THC oil or medicinal cannabis products, check out our article on Accessing medicinal cannabis in Australia.
The bottom line
CBD is no doubt the poster-child for medical cannabis and its potential health benefits. Many people avoid THC products because of their intoxicating effects.
Most of the time, however, the psychoactive effect of THC is described as euphoric, increasing creativity and awareness. Yet, there is still a trend of choosing non-psychoactive CBD.
This means that THC has flown under the radar when exploring its medical benefits. And the research that has been conducted suggests that there are benefits to using THC which may not be present in CBD. This is especially true in the case of appetite loss and insomnia.
Furthermore, the benefits of whole plant treatment which encompasses THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids and terpenes far outweigh that of isolate products. By opting for full spectrum products or vaping dried flower, consumers are able to harness the power of the whole cannabis plant and the so called "entourage effect".
Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. (2018, July 17). How cannabis affects appetite: Brain changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180717094747.htm
Campbell LM, Tang B, Watson CW, et al. Cannabis use is associated with greater total sleep time in middle-aged and older adults with and without HIV: A preliminary report utilizing digital health technologies. Cannabis. 2020;3(2):180-189. doi:10.26828/cannabis.2020.02.005
Schierenbeck T, Riemann D, Berger M, Hornyak M. Effect of illicit recreational drugs upon sleep: cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. Sleep Med Rev. 2008;12(5):381-389. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2007.12.004
Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia. (2020). Medicinal Cannabis and MS. https://msra.org.au/medicinal-cannabis-ms/
Abrams DI. Integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care. Curr Oncol. 2016;23(2):S8-S14. doi:10.3747/co.23.3099
Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x