Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis. It’s the one that provides the high everyone associates with using the plant, whether they smoke it, vape it, or eat it. Along with the psychoactive effect, the cannabinoid also provides many other significant benefits. But just how does THC work?

How THC Works

THC is one of the most common (and one of the most well-known) cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. What many people don’t know, however, is that it’s practically non-existent in raw plant material. Cannabis needs to be exposed to heat (such as combustion through smoking or decarboxylation) or light first. The process converts THCa into the desired THC.

Once in the body, THC travels through the bloodstream. As it does, it combines with cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. The binding “unlocks” the receptors, triggering specific effects, including the plant’s characteristic high. These effects vary based on factors such as the strain you use, the other cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant, and how you consume it (for instance, smoking versus eating an edible). The effects also vary based on the location of the cannabinoid receptors.


CBD is the other well-known cannabinoid. It also provides a host of benefits, such as relief from pain and inflammation, as well as reduced anxiety and improved sleep. One of the biggest differences between the two cannabinoids is that THC gets you high, while CBD doesn’t. THC also interacts directly with the CB receptors in your endocannabinoid system, while CBD interacts indirectly.

Despite their differences, THC and CBD work together to provide users with a whole host of incredible benefits. In particular, CBD can help to tame the high caused by THC. If you’re sensitive to THC, or you accidentally take too much, CBD helps to counteract the effects, which might include paranoia and extreme anxiety.

thc effects

Applications for THC

THC provides many significant benefits. Applications include:

  • Providing relief from pain and inflammation
  • Alleviating nausea and vomiting
  • Boosting your appetite
  • Treating conditions such as Crohn’s disease, PTSD, anxiety (in small doses), and depression
  • Killing bacteria and helping to treat conditions such as staph infections
  • Promoting relaxation and sleep

Dosing Matters

No matter what your goals with cannabis and THC, keep in mind that dosing matters. Taking too much can cause you to become too high, which often defeats the purpose of using cannabis and ruins the experience. Too little, on the other hand, and you won’t get any of the benefits you seek.

If you’re new to cannabis, you’re switching strains, or you’re opting for a new method of consumption (such as moving from vaping to edibles), start low and go slow. A small dose allows you to gauge the effects of the strain without going overboard. If you don’t feel anything, gradually increase your dose, but be sure to wait before you do. For instance, it might only take 30 minutes to feel the effects via smoking, it can take up to 90 minutes (or more) to feel anything from an edible. You may also find it helpful to keep track of your dosing information in a journal, which you can then use for future reference.

THC is an extremely beneficial cannabinoid that provides a whole host of benefits. Understanding how it works can help you to reap the maximum benefits. If you have any questions about it, high THC cannabis strains, or anything else cannabis-related, talk with an experienced budtender at your local licensed dispensary.