Do you know the difference?
Find out more about CBD and THC.
Why is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) psychoactive and Cannabidiol (CBD) is not? How can one cannabinoid affect the mind while the other apparently not at all?
CBD and THC are the two main ingredients in the marijuana plant. Both CBD and THC belong to a unique class of compounds known as cannabinoids. The chemical compositions of both elements might be the same, but they have different impact on the brain. This difference led to the mislabeling of THC as the “bad” cannabinoid and the CBD as the “good” cannabinoid. Many chemicals in the cannabis flower have very different effects. Some of them have no real effect, but others can. This should change people’s perception on the way medical marijuana is used.
Speaking about cannabis and psychoactivity, we’re dealing exclusively with CB1 receptors, which are concentrated in the brain and the central nervous system. The difference between CBD and THC comes down to a basic difference in how each one interacts with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor. THC binds well with CB1 cannabinoid receptors while CBD has low binding similarity for CB1 receptors.
THC partially imitates a naturally produced neurotransmitter known as anandamide, also known as the bliss molecule. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, which activates CB1 receptors. Studies conducted on animals have taught us that anandamide can increase appetite and enhance pleasure associated with food consumption. It’s also responsible for some of the rewarding effects of exercise. Anandamide also plays a role in memory, motivation, and pain. THC is key that closely resembles anandamide that it activates CB1 receptors, allowing it to produce some of those similar blissful feelings.
On the other hand, CBD is not a good fit with CB1 receptors. It’s categorized as an antagonist of CB1 agonists, which means that it doesn’t act directly to activate or suppress CB1 receptors. It acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of a cannabinoid like THC. When you ingest THC and CBD, the THC directly stimulates those CB1 receptors, while the CBD acts as a kind of modulating influence on the THC. CBD opposes the action of THC at the CB1 receptor, in so doing blocking the psychoactive effects of THC.
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is the chemical from the cannabis plant that had made marijuana both illegal and famous through time. This compound produces mind-altering effects that commonly go with weed and beneficial effects that are not usually discussed a lot.
THC helps with a number of ailments such as tumor growth and cancer. This may be the reason why medical marijuana is currently legal in most of the U.S. THC may get the most attention worldwide when people are discussing the subject revolving around marijuana, but CBD might offer more strong advantages for some users.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, is another essential chemical that is found in the cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t affect the mind the same way as THC. CBD helps with various health conditions such as nausea, inflammation, cancer, and pain relief. CBD can also fix depression, anxiety, and other severe mental illnesses. This is one of the strongest reasons for which patients choose CBD over THC. Depending on each patient’s needs, CBD is able to offer more health benefits from the marijuana plant.
CBD is also popular for its ability to reduce the side effects of THC. Taking the two compounds together can yield the medicinal value of THC with dulled psychoactive side effect. Because of the high and fast advancements in the field of medical marijuana, CBD is now available in all kinds of forms such as capsule, oils, flowers, lotions, and much more.
THC is found in cannabis plants including Indica (high quantities), Sativa (moderate to low amounts), and Ruderalis (near zero). Only small amounts of THC is found in hemp. CBD is found in both cannabis plants and industrial hemp plants.
Main Effects of THC
THC is analgesic, meaning it relieves pain and inflammation. It creates a state of relaxation and well-being. It promotes drowsiness, which means it induces sleep. It promotes the state of euphoria, which causes the feeling of being “high.” It stimulates the appetite, creating the urge to eat.
The psychoactive or psychological effects of THC include time distortion, intensified sensory experiences, and increased socialization.
Main Effects of CBD
CBD is anti-depressant that combats anxiety and depression. It is anti-convulsion, which suppresses seizure activity. It is an anti-oxidant that fights neuro-degenerative disorders. It combats psychosis and protects the neurons in the brain. It reduces nausea and vomiting. It combats pain and inflammation. It also combats tumor and cancer cells.
Differences between CBD and THC
CBD can’t get you high. This may be disappointing to recreational users, but this unique feature of CBD is what makes it appealing as a medicine. Doctors usually prefer treatments with minimal side effects. CBD has been used to treat younger children with various ailments.
THC causes some people to feel anxious or paranoid, but CBD has the opposite effect. Studies show that CBD works to counteract the anxiety caused by ingesting THC. More studies also suggest that CBD can reduce anxiety when taken on its own.
CBD seems to have antipsychotic properties. According to researchers, CBD may protect marijuana users from getting too high by reducing the psychosis-like effects of THC. Moreover, CBD is being tested as an antipsychotic medicine for people with schizophrenia.
One of the most common uses of marijuana is to help with sleep, and THC is responsible for most of marijuana’s sleep-inducing effects. On the other hand, CBD promotes wakefulness, which means CBD is not a sleep medicine. The opposite effects of CBD and THC on sleep explain why some strains of cannabis cause users to feel drowsy while others boost energy.
While most countries have strict laws regarding marijuana and THC, the legal status of CBD is less clear. Classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law, CBD is technically illegal in the U.S. Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical form of CBD, was just cleared recently by the FDA to be tested in children with severe epilepsy.
CBD is found in hemp, which can be legally imported and sold in the U.S. Some companies took advantage of this loophole by importing high-CBD hemp extracts from other countries where hemp is produced.
Why is CBD Used More Than THC for Medical Treatments?
THC is classified in most parts of the world as an illegal drug. It has very significant immediate and long-term cognitive side effects. These include impaired reasoning and thinking, reduced ability to make plans and to organize, altered decision-making, and reduced control over impulses. Moreover, continuous use of THC is associated with major abnormalities in the brain and heart.
CBD, on the other hand, lacks all these harmful cognitive effects featured by THC. In fact, it can even counteract the psychoactive effects of THC both when administered from the extract and in plant form.
Considering the increasing popularity of medical marijuana, new breeders are currently creating various strains that feature higher CBD component than THC to minimize the psychoactive side effects.
As a conclusion, the lower health risks of CBD combined with its high efficiency in treating various health conditions make it a better option for medical applications as compared to THC.