Cannabis has more than 113 chemical compounds which are better known as cannabinoids. Despite the existence of all these cannabinoids, the two most popular cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are derived from cannabis plants. In the past few years, CBD vs. THC has been a hotly debated topic.
Interest has grown as far as the potential benefits and health effects of cannabis are concerned. We are only hoping that the interest will continue growing as marijuana and cannabis products continue being legalized in more states across the US.
It is worth noting that both cannabis and hemp plants can produce these two cannabinoids. All the same, the concentration of THC in cannabis is much higher than in hemp. It, therefore, means that hemp plants have a higher CBD concentration.
Many products have been made lately containing CBD or THC and sometimes a combination of both. These products are claimed to have health benefits such as alleviating stress and anxiety. To properly understand the likely benefits and side effects of these products, we need to understand the difference between THC vs. CBD. Let us begin by defining each cannabinoid.
What Is CBD?
CBD is the short form for cannabidiol. As you might already be aware, it is the second in terms of the prevalence of chemical compounds of the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid was discovered in the 1940s, contrary to what people think.
However, it is only recently when its popularity has increased since it has been considered a natural treatment for different health conditions. These include depression and anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and others.
About the source of CBD, you can get this cannabinoid both from marijuana and hemp plants.
The amount produced by each plant differs, with hemp having a better yield for CBD. This does not, however, mean that hemp-derived CBD will not have THC. There are trace amounts of THC in CBD derived from hemp. For marijuana, you will get more THC than CBD. To know more about CBD, Click Here.
What Is THC?
THC, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the principal psychoactive ingredient that is found in cannabis. NIDA states that THC will activate your brain’s reward system by basically signaling the release of your brain’s chemical dopamine.
If you do not know what dopamine is, it is a neurotransmitter playing an essential role in pleasure and mood. After triggering high-than-normal dopamine release, THC will cause people to experience euphoria feelings. In short, the mind-altering effects are brought about by THC and not CBD.
To experience the entourage effect, however, CBD and THC work better to bring that. Often, THC is normally administered when you smoke marijuana. All the same, you can find THC as an ingredient in products like oils, capsules, and edibles. The best source for THC is marijuana, as we just stated since the concentration is higher compared to hemp. Now that you know what this cannabinoid is and how it affects the user see the difference between CBD and THC.
What’s The Difference Between CBD and THC?
Both THC and CBD have effects on the human endocannabinoid system. This is the system that plays a very crucial role as far as maintaining homeostasis is concerned. According to researchers, they are working to comprehend how exactly the endocannabinoid system works fully.
However, they are aware that the complex system is associated with appetite, memory, fertility, mood, and sleep. Despite CBD and THC sharing some similarities, there are several key differences between these two compounds. Below we compare CBD vs. THC from different perspectives:
CBD vs. THC: Chemical Structure
In terms of chemical structure, Both THC and CBD have a similar chemical structure as the natural endocannabinoids in the body. Endocannabinoids are the neurotransmitters that generally act in the brain. The chemical messengers that convey signals between the nerve cells of the body are known as neurotransmitters.
They have a role in a wide range of functions, including sleep, mood, pain, the immune system, and appetite.
Even though both THC and CBD have a similar molecular structure, there still exists a difference between the two. By the molecular structure, we mean that these two cannabinoids have 21 carbon, 30 hydrogen, and 2 oxygen atoms.
The difference arises in the form that the molecules have been arranged. Having a different molecular arrangement they have different effects on your body. THC and CBD mimic endocannabinoids, and in doing so, they bind with receptors to cause varying effects in your body.
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive Component
THC is a compound that is famous for the high sensation that people get after using it. In short, it is a psychoactive compound that brings mind-altering effects. THC changes the function of cannabinoid receptors by simply binding to them. This is the reason why it causes mind-altering effects. In this regard, it has not been legalized in most states.
On the other hand, CBD has been considered a non-psychoactive compound. What this means is that it will never cause a high that is commonly associated with THC. Even though CBD is legal federally, it can have trace THC amounts but should not exceed 0.3%. This is such a low amount that it will not cause a high. Generally, CBD has so many potential health benefits without causing psychoactive effects.
CBD vs. THC: Medical Benefits
Both THC and CBD make communications with the endocannabinoid system. This is an essential physiological system that is involved in maintaining your health. It plays a central role in regulating so many processes and functions that include sleep, appetite, memory, fertility, and many more. Even though both cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system, they have different properties with varying medical benefits.
- CBD Benefits
There are so many benefits that are associated with consuming CBD oil. When consumed, CBD will connect to the cannabinoid receptors in the body. In this regard, people have reported that CBD has helped with main problems, including arthritis, diabetes, cancer treatment, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease. As of now, there is minimal evidence that CBD helps with such conditions. All the same, the FDA has approved a CBD-based drug. It is known as Epidiolex, which has been recommended for treating rare forms of epilepsy.
- THC Benefits
More than half of the US states have already legalized ‘medical marijuana,’ meaning that you need to have a prescription from the doctor for you to use it. THC effects have also been known to alleviate many painful symptoms associated with nausea and chronic pain. Other issues that THC could help with include Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, poor appetite, and tremors.
CBD vs. THC: Side Effects
According to some research, THC and CBD are safe and will result in few side effects. All the same, even though these cannabinoids appear safe, it does not imply that you will never experience unwanted side effects. It is believed that CBD side effects are likely to be caused by interactions between CBD and the medications that you might be taking.
THC side effects
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Red eyes
- Coordination problems
- Slower reaction times
CBD side effects
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss
It is, however, good to note that neither of these compounds is fatal. All the same, high use of THC is usually associated with long-term adverse side effects. This is especially the case for adolescents who are consuming large THC amounts. There lacks conclusive evidence that the use of cannabis could cause psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
CBD vs. THC: Drug Testing
Because THC is the primary psychoactive compound of marijuana, it is easily detectable in most common drug tests. It is also possible for CBD to be detected, but the truth is that drugs tests are designed to screen THC instead of cannabidiol.
It is, however, worth noting that CBD products contain THC. People argue that the THC amount in CBD is minimal to be detected. Have you thought about what happens when you use large CBD quantities daily? This will mean that the THC content will also increase in your system.
But only CBD doesn’t show up on a drug test. It is similarly possible to fail drugs tests despite having not used THC. The reason for that is that most CBD product marketers make false claims. You can easily get duped into false claims that a particular CBD product has trace THC amounts.
To your surprise, you get that these products have more THC than what the label indicates. According to research, about 70% of CBD products have more than the stated THC amount.
Due to the unregulated nature of these products, it is hard to know precisely what THC amount you are getting into your system. Both cannabinoids are stored in the body fat, meaning that they can easily be detected on drug tests. This happens after a period that you have stayed without using them.
CBD vs. THC: Legality
It is essential to consider the legality aspect when you are choosing between CBD vs. THC. As you might already be aware, both THC and marijuana are on the list of the controlled substances act of the United States. What this therefore means is that these are not legal according to federal law.
By July of 2020, 33 states of Washington DC had laid out policies that allow THC and medical marijuana products to be prescribed by doctors. On a similar note, some states have allowed the recreational use of marijuana and products having THC.
On the other hand, CBD has been legalized federally owing to its non-psychoactive effects. Despite being legal federally, it is good to note that the legality of CBD products could be different from one state to the other. Several states have approved marijuana use as well as THC use for recreation.
The federal law also approves CBD products with THC so long as the THC content does not exceed 0.3%. Since laws regarding cannabis use are changing very rapidly, it is always good to check the state laws before using CBD or THC products.
How To Take CBD And THC?
Both CBD and THC can be taken in different forms. Ideally, you can consume THC by smoking marijuana, even though there are several cannabis products available. These include oils, tinctures, vape products, sprays, edibles, and beverages that contain marijuana oil. Just like THC, CBD can similarly be consumed in several ways. For instance, CBD oils can be formed for vaping even though there have been concerns about the health dangers of vaping.
Other methods of consuming CBD include adding it to lotions and salves and later applying it to the skin. It is very crucial to note that the effects brought about by these topical products will only be localized. This is due to the simple reason that they are never ingested. You can also take CBD orally in the form of tinctures, sprays, and oils. There also exists edible CBD products, which include candies, beverages, and gummies.
Which One Should You Take?
What you should take will be determined by the type of effects you are trying to get. If you want to catch better sleep or reduce stress, for instance, CBD would be a great choice. You will enjoy the benefits without the side effects that are linked to THC.
On the other hand, THC would be a good choice for symptoms and conditions that this substance has shown benefits for. These include poor appetite and tremors. Research, however, suggests that the likely health effects of both CBD and THC remain greater when the two cannabinoids are taken together. The phenomenon is referred to as the entourage effect.
Taking CBD together with THC has been demonstrated to help reduce unwanted effects that THC brings about. One study, for instance, showed that CBD could lower the adverse cognitive effects caused by regular cannabis use. All the same, people who are susceptible to unwanted side effects could still get health benefits. What they need to do is stick to products that are low in THC and high in CBD.
It is equally important to note that THC and CBD work in several different areas of the brain. Researchers say that they are yet to comprehend the effects of these two cannabinoids fully. This is either when working alone or when they work in conjunction with each other.
CBD and THC are cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plants. As you have learned, both THC and THC have medical benefits. The other thing that you might have learned about these two cannabinoids is that they might be similar in what they treat.
All the same, there is one main difference between CBD and THC. The difference is that THC makes the user feel high, which is not the same for CBD. Even though both of them are considered safe, you need to be aware of the side effects and interactions with other drugs.
It is a good idea to consult the doctor or any qualified CBD clinician if you have questions. Similarly, it is good to familiarize yourself with the existing laws governing the use of these cannabinoids.