How CBD and THC are Different

By Staff Reporter, Parent Herald May 05, 10:48 pm
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Many people understand the main difference between CBD and THC - one gets you high, the other doesn't. What about the other differences? While these two cannabinoids do complement each other, they are very different. In this guide, we'll dive deeper into how CBD and THC are different - and we'll touch on their similarities too.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is the most dominant cannabinoid in hemp and the second most present cannabinoid in cannabis. It is non-intoxicating - -meaning that no high or cerebral effects are felt from its use.

CBD interacts in several different ways with systems and receptors throughout the body. While it doesn't directly bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors, it interacts with the receptors indirectly to help the endocannabinoid system maintain balance throughout multiple systems in the body. This is also why many industry experts have steered away from saying that CBD is non-psychoactive as it does indirectly play a role in causing change, there are just no intoxicating effects felt.

CBD can help stimulate some receptors and trigger them to activate in the body.

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is the dominant cannabinoid in cannabis and is present in small amounts in most varieties of hemp. In cannabis, high THC content can be above 25-percent whereas in hemp, the maximum amount of THC isn't typically more than 0.3-percent.

THC can directly bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. THC fits directly into CB1 receptors. Once the cannabinoid receptor has been infiltrated by the cannabinoid, it is "instructed" to activate and regulate a specific function.

THC is what causes intoxicating feelings. The other cannabinoids and terpenes within a cannabis strain determine the group of effects and medicinal benefits, as well as any potential negative effects that will be felt by that strain.

If you are new to THC, it is best to use it very small amounts and research the benefits, negatives and effects of each strain to determine if it is a good option for you.

How are they Different?

Let's get down to science for a minute. Both CBD and THC have the same chemical composition, but how they are arranged is different. They are in a class called cyclic compounds. What this means is that the series of atoms in their structures connect to a ring, but the series of atoms is different. The structure of CBD is represented by an open ring while THC's ring is closed.

THC is particularly interested in CB1 receptors. It fits in better with this receptor, but it can also bind directly to CB2 receptors. CBD is an indirect antagonist of these receptors, so its interaction is indirect. To explain, CBD reduces the intoxicating effects of THC as it binds to receptors in the body. CBD can interact with non-cannabinoid receptors where THC cannot. These receptors include the 5-HT1A receptor and vanilloid receptor TRPV-1.

An important difference is the legal status of these cannabinoids. THC is legal in some states but is federally illegal. CBD is in a semi-gray area since some states do completely outlaw it but the FDA just recently approved a drug called Epidiolex, which is a CBD-based pharmaceutical. This means that the status of CBD is likely to change in the near future.

When it comes down to the benefits of these cannabinoids in the body - they share many of the same benefits as they can work together.

THC is ideal for:

  • Muscle spasms

  • Glaucoma

  • Insomnia

  • Appetite improvement

  • Pain

  • Nausea

Some suggest that THC can help anxiety but in this respect, it is a must that you read the strain description as some can actually induce anxiety. This is mostly the case for sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, but some indica strains can also induce a bit of anxiety.

CBD is ideal for:

  • Seizure control

  • Some mental illnesses

  • IBD and IBS

  • Inflammation (arthritis conditions as well)

  • Anxiety/PTSD

  • Nausea

  • Migraines

  • Depression

  • Some pain disorders

CBD can be used by any age group and pets. THC is seen as a negative option for younger age groups.

CBD has no known side effects. THC may have some side effects, but they are typically related to the cannabinoid profile of the strain and are typically temporary. There is a small percentage of the population that is allergic to THC but there aren't any reported cases of CBD allergies.

How are they the Same?

CBD and THC are both cannabinoids that may help multiple medical conditions. They work well on their own but also work well together to help the endocannabinoid system maintain proper function in the body.

Both cannabinoids share some of the same attributes such as reducing pain, improving mood, improving nausea and improving sleep - just to name a few. While they are often isolated, they are stronger together against some ailments - like cancer.

The body produces cannabinoids on its own, but there may not always be enough produced. CBD and THC are often introduced to help fill the gap and give the body the cannabinoids it needs to regulate a function, combat an illness or subdue a symptom.  Some people may prefer only CBD, and that may be enough for them. Others prefer THC and some people's bodies require both cannabinoids working together in synergy.

CBD and THC Aid these conditions together:

  • Nausea

  • Pain- CBD reduces the inflammation and neuropathy while THC tackles spasms and cramps

  • Arthritis

  • Depression

  • Stress

  • Digestive function

  • Side effects of chemotherapy

Both work to heal the body in a natural way. These are the two most well-known cannabinoids. The benefits of both have been known for decades but restrictions on research have hindered progression of full knowledge of the potential of these cannabinoids.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding each cannabinoid and how they work in the body can be confusing. With CBD and THC being the most dominant cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp, they do work together in many ways, but it is important to understand how very different they are too. We hope this guide has helped you understand how these two important cannabinoids are different.

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