CBD vs. THC: A Comparison

cbd vs thc

Marijuana is made up of several compounds; each of these may have specific uses and effects. Two of the most prominent compounds in cannabis are CBD and THC. Let’s find out what makes these compounds important and what makes them different as well.

CBD or cannabidiol and THC or tetrahydrocannabinol are two compounds that are naturally found in cannabis. A cannabis strain may have higher amounts of CBD and lower THC, making the strain more therapeutic than recreational, while some strains have low CBD and higher THC, making them more psychoactive and less medicinal.

CBD is available from hemp and marijuana. Cannabis plants are subdivided into hemp and marijuana plants. Meanwhile, THC can only be derived from marijuana plants. The cannabis strain should have higher amounts of THC.

CBD is the medicinal component in cannabis, while THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis. CBD is often found in oils, candies, extracts, supplements, and more. Meanwhile, THC products are often smoked and available in capsules, tinctures, oils, cannabis edibles, and many more.

Both compounds are utilized by the body through the endocannabinoid system; however, each has different effects.

Chemical structure

The chemical structure of CBD and THC comes with exact chemical structures. Both have 21 carbons, 30 hydrocarbons, and 2 oxygen atoms. There is a small difference in the way the atoms are aligned, and this slight difference affects the way the two compounds interact with our mind and body.

The two cannabinoids are chemically the same as the body’s endocannabinoid system. This helps the compounds interact with the receptors found in the different areas of the body.

These interactions affect the movement of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are chemicals that are needed in transmitting messages from cell to cell. Neurotransmitters also have specific roles in the body’s immune system, pain response, sleep, and behavior.

Psychoactive effects

Indeed, CBD and THC almost have the same chemical makeup, but the two don’t have the same psychoactive effects. CBD is not psychoactive at all. This means, no matter how much you consume CBD, you won’t experience the high that’s common in THC.

THC will bind with the CB1 or cannabinoid receptors found in the brain. This is why strains with high THC can produce feelings of euphoria. Meanwhile, CBD is not so easy to bind to receptors, and sometimes, it won’t even bind at all. CBD can even interfere with the binding of THC with receptors, affecting the body experiences and the psychoactive effects expected with THC strains.

Cannabis may be legal in countries like Canada and some states in the US, but not all enjoy its use. In the US, marijuana laws are changing year after year, and more and more states are embracing the use of recreational cannabis as well as medicinal marijuana. In some states, marijuana and THC are still regulated, while some prohibit their use.

In Washington, DC, and many states, cannabis laws prohibit the development and use of medical marijuana that contain high amounts of THC. Also, medical marijuana needs to be prescribed by a licensed medical professional. There are also many states that legalize the use of recreational THC and marijuana.

In US states where the use of marijuana and THC are legal for medicinal and recreational use, you will be able to purchase CBD as well. There are different laws for each state and country, so before you decide to buy any products with CBD or THC, make a double check of your local laws.

Take note that consuming cannabis is different from growing cannabis at home for your personal consumption. Read and understand local laws beforehand.

Therapeutic benefits

Because of the almost similar chemical structures of CBD and THC, the two compounds almost have the same benefits. Both compounds provide excellent relief for the same medical conditions. But CBD does not have any psychoactive effects that THC has. This is one of the reasons why many people prefer the use of CBD to THC strains.

In 2018, the FDA approved the drug Epidolex, a prescription drug that contains purified CBD. This was and is the only CBD-based drug used to treat a rare form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or the Dravet syndrome.

Meanwhile, CBD is also useful in the treatment of many conditions, including inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, pain, nausea, migraines, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. THC is also used for pain, glaucoma, muscle spasticity, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and lack of appetite.

Unwanted effects

Most of the side effects of cannabis are due to its THC content. This is because CBD is well-tolerated even when taken in large doses. Researchers also found out that side effects that come from CBD may be due to the interactions of CBD and other medications or drugs that a patient may be taking.

Common THC side effects are increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, and problems with coordination, poor reaction times, and memory loss.

Side effects of CBD and THC are not fatal; however, the use of THC can be attributed to unwanted psychotic effects. This was found in adolescents and young adults who take large doses of THC. Teens suffer from profound effects on the mind because the compound increases the possibility of suffering from schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

About drug testing

Cannabinoids stay in the body’s fat storage, and because of this, these compounds can show in most basic drug tests. It can stay in the body for several days or even weeks after you take them. Not all tests can detect CBD; however, there are tests that are designed to detect CBD. Most drug tests look for THC.

Take note that hemp also has small amounts of THC, so you can still test positive for THC even if you have not smoked or taken weed.

CBD and THC levels are indicated at the back of all cannabis products. Don’t consume the product if you don’t find these on the label. If you have questions about the CBD or THC levels of a particular product, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer for proper guidance.

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