A Brief Medical History of THC…

The history of cannabinoids is full of intrigue. For decades now, scientists and researchers of all stripes have marveled at the cannabis plant’s rich chemical tapestry – one loaded with hundreds of properties, from the psychoactive to the analgesic. Where culture and industry have unquestionably failed science is in the simplistic categorization of the plant, and its many concentrates.

Over the years, the labelling of cannabis products along the lines of THC and CBD has helped to inform, but also confuse consumers and medical patients. The notion that some cannabinoids (read CBD) have a therapeutic benefit and others (read THC) are exclusively used for recreational reasons is now engraved in the collective consciousness of nearly everyone who has even a basic understanding of the plant.

Simply, this is one of the gravest misconceptions going. Imagine isolating one sense, say sight, and giving it full credit for perception. Would that not undercut and devalue the sense of touch, smell, hearing and taste? This is a pertinent analogy when looking at the therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant. While CBD is unquestionably a significant cannabinoid in the fact that it’s an analgesic and anti-inflammatory that doesn’t have any known psychoactive properties, its notorious counterpart, THC, also has its fair share of therapeutic qualities. [1]

CBD and THC were first isolated in an Israeli lab in 1963 and 1964, respectively, by revered scientist Raphael Mechoulam. In 1965, the two cannabinoids were first synthesized in the same lab and this marked the beginning of the identification of the many chemical parts of the cannabis plant, which now number over 100 cannabinoids and terpenoids. Roughly a dozen of these cannabinoids have been studied in detail, yet most conversations and all cannabis labels only make mention of those that were first discovered by Mechoulam more than 50 years ago. [2]

CBD and THC have a common lineage and the same molecular structure. In fact, both are reported to provide many of the same medical benefits. They both can relieve symptoms associated with the same conditions, but because THC has psychoactive qualities and effectuated a conventional high, CBD has quickly become celebrated as the cannabinoid to trust, and THC viewed as the prodigal son. [3]

For decades now, this common fallacy has misinformed consumers. After thousands of years of medical use and the recent addition of adult-use cannabis to the recreational landscape, it’s more important than ever that people begin to appreciate the plant for its holistic applications. While it may at times be a difficult reality to embrace, the fact of the matter is that CBD and THC are both viable therapeutic cannabinoids contained, side by side, in the cannabis plant.

1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317221.php 
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1760722/ 
3. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-thc

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