Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. THC binds with your cannabinoid receptors to produce a range of effects, eliciting potentially beneficial therapeutic outcomes. However, THC may affect patients differently, depending on a number of factors such as product type, dosage, and health condition. Patients being treated with THC could also experience varying side effects.

How does THC interact with the human body?

THC interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system to produce therapeutic medical benefits. When the chemical compound enters your bloodstream, it’s carried to your other organs. Depending on how THC is taken, it may take 30 minutes to an hour for you to start feeling the effects. The endocannabinoid system is made up of molecules called cannabinoid receptors. This system is potentially responsible for physiological functions such as appetite, pain, and emotions. The two main receptors in your endocannabinoid system are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Although both THC and CBD interact similarly with these receptors, THC forms a very strong bond with the CB1 receptors which are located near your central nervous system. It triggers specific brain cell receptors, stimulating your brain’s neurons.

How does THC affect different body parts?

Depending on how you’re using it, THC could have different effects on body parts. For instance, certain topical forms of THC may be applied on the skin to target specific areas. Ingesting THC means it will pass through your digestive system, and inhaling it, using a vaporiser, brings product into your lungs. However, due to the psychoactive nature of THC, it mostly affects your brain, impacting cognitive function. For this reason, patients being treated with THC may experience impaired movement or coordination. You may also experience altered perceptions and moods. This is why it is illegal to drive or operate heavy machinery with THC in your systems in all Australian states except Tasmania. It may take days, or even weeks, for THC to fully leave your system, and it’s difficult to predict how long the psychoactive effect will last, as it relies on a number of different factors.

What are the potential side-effects of THC?

Just like with many medicines, using THC may have side-effects. These effects vary widely depending on your health condition, other medications you may be taking, your lifestyle, THC product, dosage, and more. Some of the side-effects associated with THC use may include headaches, drowsiness, fatigue, and dry eyes. THC medicines will have varying levels of THC, so you may experience some or none of these effects. In some cases, using THC products could potentially cause nausea, disorientation, and increased heart rate. Before prescribing medicinal THC, your doctor will take your lifestyle and current condition into account to try and minimise side-effects. There are a number of THC products available for patients, and you may need to explore options before finding a cannabis medicine that suits you.

Do different THC products affect people differently?

THC does affect people differently. The kind of product and dosage you receive depends on your health condition and lifestyle requirements. Even though a doctor may prescribe the same product to multiple patients, the dosage and health condition may cause that product to differ between patients. Consumption could also affect your experience with THC. Each THC product type – whether it’s edibles, tinctures, or vaporisers–offers a unique therapeutic journey. Edibles, for instance, deliver a gradual and extended release of THC, resulting in a prolonged effect. On the other hand, tinctures provide a more controlled and quicker onset, allowing users to fine-tune their dosage with precision. Inhalable products, like vapes, provide rapid relief. The type of THC product and its dosage may cause different effects from patient to patient.

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