Compounds like CBD and THC has been gaining attention due to its wide range of health benefits. While there are a significantly close relationship and connection between the two, it should not be assumed they are the same. The two may be nearly an identical twins. CBD and THC are the two most common cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. Both of these interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human mind and body.
Although both CBD and THC interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, they have different effects. Their difference goes from their chemical structure to how they interact and binds or interfere with the receptors. Here are more the details of the differences between CBD and THC.
CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It is a natural substance that is used in products such as oil, edibles, and more to impart the feeling of relaxation.
THC is the main psychoactive component found in the cannabis plant. Therefore, THC is the main reason and the primary responsible for causing the ‘high’ feeling associated with recreational cannabis use.
Cannabinoids and The Endocannabinoid System
Before we proceed, understanding what cannabinoids are and how it works in our body is essential. A cannabinoid is a compound that binds or interacts with our body’s endocannabinoids system. A network of receptors that binds with cannabinoids help maintain the functions of our body.
- CB1 Receptors
The first cannabinoid receptor was first discovered in 1988. It was classified as CB1 in 1995, and they are mainly found in the regions of our brain that is responsible for mental and physiological processes. This includes memory, cognition, emotion, and motor coordination.
- CB2 Receptors
CB2 was first identified by 1993. They are mainly found throughout the central nervous and immune systems. CB2 receptors are also responsible for reducing inflammation, one of the primary reasons for common diseases and conditions.
- Endocannabinoid Maintains Homeostasis
As studies about our endocannabinoid system continue to prosper, they had discovered that it plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. It is maintaining the ideal balance between interdependent elements in the body. For instance, if you become stressed, your mind releases a compound which is responsible for how we feel when we are stressed. That compound will abruptly help the body to react accordingly to the given situation.
- Psychological High
While it is common knowledge that THC gets you ‘high’, CBD are non-intoxicating. THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive and mind-altering effects found in the cannabis plant. The reason for that is that THC binds with the CB1 receptors found in the body’s endocannabinoid system. On the other hand, CBD does not bind or interact with any of these receptors.
So, how CBD and THC work?
Although both CBD and THC have the same chemical composition such as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, they are not that identical. Aside from their chemical composition, CBD and THC work and interacts with the body differently.
It binds with the CB1 receptors easily that it stimulates the body in a certain way. The results can be altered senses, fatigue, hunger, and general relaxation. This changes how the brain functions and leads to a feeling of ‘high’.
CBD, on another hand, does not bind with the CB1 receptors; thus, it does not have the same psychoactive effects. However, CBD has many other effects on the physiology of the body and mind. CBD induces the body to produce its own natural cannabinoids by obstructing the enzymes that break them down.
Effects of CBD and THC
CBD and THC offer various medical benefits for many types of conditions. THC is often used for its euphoric, relaxing, and pain-relieving effects. On the other hand, CBD is commonly used for anxiety, epilepsy, and other more.
As one of the most well-known compounds, this is primarily used for the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Other main effects of THC include:
- Analgesic. THC is a great way to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Relaxation. THC also creates a state of relaxation and well-being.
- Drowsiness. It also induces sleepiness.
- Appetite Stimulant. THC changes your appetite and creates the urge to eat.
- Muscle Control. THC helps suppress and control spasms and seizures.
- Nausea Suppressant. THC also controls stomach queasiness especially for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is also helpful for patients battling with multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, AIDS, and severe spinal injuries.
For recent years, CBD has always been known for its therapeutic effects. Since CBD are non-psychoactive, no matter how much you consume CBD, you will never get high. As more studies were being conducted, medical professionals have come to claim that CBD has been an effective compound for:
- Anti-depressant. CBD is an effective compound that fights and efficiently combats with depression and anxiety attacks. Unlike THC, CBD induces our endocannabinoid system to produce more natural cannabinoids to fight anxiety. This often results in overall betterment in the quality of a patient’s life and daily functioning.
- Anti-convulsant. CBD has also been found as an effective way to control seizures relating to epilepsy. New drugs have also been put to clinical trials and the Food and Drug Administration has already approved CBD for epilepsy.
- Anti-oxidant. It is also considered as a promising compound to use and combat neurodegenerative disorders. This includes Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other more diseases.
- Neuro-protective. CBD also significantly help protects the neurons in our brain.
- Antiemetic. CBD significantly reduces vomiting and nausea. CBD has been recognized for this ability and has also been used to increase appetite for those patients with such conditions. It has also been used to effectively relieve patients with common diseases and a treatment protocol for the same medical conditions.
- Anti-inflammatory. CBD is also known for its effective benefits to fight inflammation and other associated pain. It also has pancreatic benefits for type-1 diabetes. CBD is found to have an effective benefit in reducing the inflammation in the pancreas, allowing better management of the disorder. It is also an effective treatment for acne which begins with skin inflammation and the overproduction of chemicals in the body.
- Anti-tumoral. CBD has also been discovered to successfully help slows down the development of cancer cells.
While it is known that both CBD and THC effectively relieves pain, research suggests that CBD and THC have differing effects. As our natural endocannabinoid system relieves pain, CBD and THC also relieve pain in different aspects.
CBD is said to be much better to use in inflammation and neuropathic pain. However, some experts also suggest that the combination of CBD and THC offers a more ideal way to approach pain.
THC is more effective in managing spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and cramp-related pain. However, there are also studies which show that excessive consumption of THC even aggravates the symptoms. Thus, when taking THC, it is highly concerned to take it in smaller doses.
Risks of Using CBD and THC
For most people, CBD is mostly preferred to use than THC. Given the increasing popularity of medical cannabis, growers and breeders create strains with higher CBD to THC ratios.
THC is a compound commonly known for its immediate effects. Furthermore, the consistent use of THC also has long-term cognitive side effects. This includes impaired thinking and reasoning, altered decision-making, reduced control over impulses, and the ability to plan and organize activities. Furthermore, excessive usage of THC also causes abnormalities in the functions of the heart and the brain.
Here are some more of the possible risks and side effects of THC:
- Increased heart rate. THC is known to cause an increase in palpitations. This is because of its properties that make the blood vessels expand. With expanded blood vessels, it lowers your blood pressure and thus results in a heart attack.
- Coordination issues. Another possible effect of too much consumption of THC is the malfunctioning of the cortico-striatal networks. It is responsible for the motor control as well as the coordination of our body.
- Dry mouth. Since THC binds with our body’s receptors, it also binds with the receptors in the salivary glands and reduces its activity. With such disruption, it causes dry mouth to the user.
- Memory loss. CB1 receptors can bind with mitochondria, a cell in our body which essentially supplies power to our body. It is located in the hippocampus, a region in our brain which is responsible for memory. Such binding with the CB1 receptors and mitochondria cells results in memory loss. However, it is still not clear whether such an effect could be long-term or temporary.
Compared with THC, CBD does not have any of these harmful cognitive effects. On the contrary, CBD interferes or counterattacks the psychoactive effects of THC. That is why low CBD and high THC cannabis strains give a stronger ‘stoned’ feeling. On another hand, high CBD and low THC type of cannabis create a weaker and more relaxed effect.
Legalities of CBD and THC
Most countries and territories have a strict regulation when it comes to the consumption of cannabis and THC. However, for pure CBD, its legal status is sometimes less complex and confusing.
THC, on the other hand, has been classified as an illegal substance for most countries because of its psychoactive components. While specific regulations for the use of THC varies from state to state, there are some countries allow medicinal use of THC. However, this comes with specific requirements for approved use.
Under the US Farm Bill of 2014, CBD which is derived from hemp plants is considered federally legal. Since this is a federal law, it does not legalize CBD derived from cannabis or marijuana.
The Bottom Line
CBD and THC share so many similarities that they are also considered as identical twins. Both cannabinoids also offer tremendous health benefits and both can provide you the relief you wanted. However, besides its great similarities with one another, they also have distinct differences.
THC is a compound which is abundant in the marijuana cannabis plant and it possesses psychoactive effects that are intended for recreational purposes. CBD, on the other hand, does not have any of those effects because it does not bind with the receptors in our endocannabinoid system. Some people see the psychoactive effects of THC a benefit instead of a negative or a risk. Depending on your needs and preferences, the choice is on you.