It’s a big word for a small component.
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid was first isolated in 1964 by an Israeli Professor Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Yechiel Gaoni. THC is currently a schedule I drug in the United States, meaning that it is deemed by the federal government to have no medicinal value whatsoever. One of the best ways to highlight this absurd notion is through the the double-standard of synthesizing of THC, a synthetic chemical that has been developed and legally sold in the United States under the name Marinol, which is available as a schedule III drug requiring a prescription.
THC is also a naturally occurring chemical with the human brain; this is where the psychoactive properties of THC come from. When you inhale or otherwise consume THC you flood your brain as well as the rest of your body with more THC than your body would naturally create on its own.
THC has a wide range from mild to moderate analgesic or pain relieving effect, and has been used to treat pain by alerting the release of signals from various bodily components such as the spinal cord. There are often a number of other effects, including relaxation and a modification of the senses such as sight and auditory response, in addition to an increase in appetite.
It is well known that cannabis consumption increases appetite and food intake in humans, which is believed to be a result of THC effects on the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus of the human brain. A study with mice suggests that cannabis stimulates taste as well as the pleasure experienced in the consumption of food. These studies are showing that increased pleasure may not be the only cause for an increase in appetite under the influence of THC.
Cancer patients often experience nausea from their chemotherapy as well as a loss in appetite. One of the hardest things cancer patients often deal with is a lack of nutrition as their appetite is either very low or nonexistent. Many of those suffering from cancer are finding marijuana and the THC within it to be a lifesaving appetite-stimulant which increases their appetite so they can eat, helping them take in the nutrition they desperately need. These same patients have also noticed a decrease in nausea, pain and other debilitating symptoms that other drugs have been unable to resolve without major addictions or side effects.
HIV/AIDS patients have also found relief from their conditions with THC, which reduces symptoms such as neuropathic pain induced by their therapy as well as an increase in weight gain. Because Marinol does not contain many of the other therapeutic components within real marijuana, like CBD, terpenoids and flavonoids, AIDS/HIV sufferers who use this product may not achieve maximum benefit. Furthermore, some patients report that a single Marinol tablet frequently causes the patient to sleep or experience an all-day high that inhibits their cognitive ability throughout the day. Natural THC does not have the same effects, however, as the patient is able to carefully control their dose as well as take in the many other components of the natural drug.