Many of us no doubt are well aware of the psychoactive properties of THC. But the question arises here how did we come to know about the role of cannabis with all its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, neuroprotective, antioxidant and muscle relaxant properties? Let’s try to get to know about these facts by diving into the fascinating history of THC. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is considered to as the godfather of cannabis science.1964 was the year when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleagues at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, discovered THC.
Dr. Raphael before discovering THC, had already took great interest in cannabis as a plant. He along with his team were the people who described the structure of THC. Roger Adams, a widely famous Harvard-trained chemist had his key role in the discovery of compound. He was the one who put light on the relationship between CBD and THC but he did not isolate THC from the plant. Dr. Raphael and his team did it in 1960s. It was such a huge breakthrough and it encouraged other researchers to find out other cannabinoids and their effects on human body. As Kilham rightly says,” Since the discovery of THC, many other brilliant scientists have also made key advances in this field”.
Discovery of THC: The usage of cannabis resin in India and hashish in Parisian literary circles, in 19th century, played vital role to encourage scientists and researchers to get to know about the cannabis and its compounds. The experts were eluded by its structure and pharmacological affects of it. Although therapeutic compounds, derived from cocaine and opium were already isolated but researchers had not yet explored molecular structure of cannabis. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam took the initiative to dive into the waters of cannabis in Israel where things were mush on liberal side as far as cannabis was concerned. He and his team were lucky because it was the time when technology advanced which paved the ways of chemical evaluation of cannabis. They were looking for the substance which was mainly responsible to produce psychoactive intoxicating effects. THC in hashish extract was discovered as end product of this research. Much of the early research on THC was carried out using the THC isolated by Mechoulam and his team. Dr. Raphael was the one who isolated THC but human history was aware about the effects of cannabis for centuries. Archaeologists have discovered traces of cannabis (dating back 2,500 years) with high levels of THC in western china
First usage of THC: History shows the traces of cannabis among ancient people, especially among Indian, Persian and Chinese people. 1960s and 1970s was the era when research on THC was building up. People around the globe started using cannabis as a fun activity, it was the vital point that led researchers to focus on cannabis and they started experimenting on if the psychotropic properties of cannabis could be attributed to THC. Everyone started talking about the cannabinoid and effects of it on an individual or on society. It was the time when scientists started experimenting on comparing the effects of cannabis to other fun drugs, its effects on body systems and THC dependency. Experiments were conducted on both humans and animals to know how cannabis elevate moods, ends anxiety, brings changes in perception and changes one’s sense of time. Although this early study undeniably helped us to understand the effects of THC on the body, these experiments also contributed to describe how these effects were created the cannabinoid. In addition to the discovery of the body’s endocannabinoid pathway, greater understanding of the therapeutic uses of THC emerged later.
Endocannabinoid system: A crucial aspect of understanding THC and its potent effects on the human body is the endocan nabinoid system (ECS). Humans and other mammals have within their bodies an endocannabiod system that plays an important role in the body’s protective immune response or equilibrium. As diverse as appetite, sleep, mood, stress, energy levels, and reproduction, this specific framework also impacts regulatory processes. In 1998, while conducting a study at the School of Medicine of St. Louis University, physiology professor Dr. Allyn Howlett and pharmacologist Dr. William Devane determined that mammalia n brains had receptor sites that responded to cannabinoids,” explains Chris Kilham. “These sites, dubbed cannabinoid receptors, turn out to be the most abundant neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain.” Two main types of cannabinoid receptors are present in the body: CB1 and CB2. Throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, CB1 and CB2 receptors are distributed. “In the brain, these receptors are located in the brain stem, cerebral cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, and amygdala. They are also found in the liver, kidneys, spleen, gonads, and heart,” explains Kilham. “After the discovery of the CB2 receptor, two graduate students of Raphael Mechoulam, Dr. Lumir Hanus and Dr. William Devane, and their team at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem discovered anandamide (AEA), an endogenous cannabinoid,” says Kilham.
Conclusion: THC is valued nowadays both for its psychoactive mind-altering properties and its array of potential therapeutic benefits. Current THC research is mostly focused on uncovering its effects on different diseases and conditions. This research helps to shift the stigmatization of the cannabinoid and cannabis itself while promoting a medicinal compound.