Cannabis is a miracle plant with a slew of therapeutic health benefits. If you shop online, you’ll come across a variety of products and types of cannabis. The two most popular types of cannabis products are CBD and THC.
These compounds are only two of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Both compounds offer many benefits but these benefits differ due to how the compounds interact with your body.
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Learning the difference between CBD and THC will help you decide which one, or both, is best to treat your condition. There’s a reason why some people prefer CBD for calming the mind and THC for managing intense pain.
Do you want to learn about the differences between CBD and THC? Here’s everything you need to know about these two compounds and how they can benefit you!
The Science Behind CBD vs THC
The main difference between CBD and THC is how they affect your body. Both interact with your endocannabinoid system, the system responsible for how you experience pain. The endocannabinoid system also regulates your sleep, mood, memory, and appetite.
Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids to interact and manage your endocannabinoid system. All humans and most vertebrae animals have an endocannabinoid system.
When you consume CBD or THC, these compounds will alter the above functions. This is why many people get the “munchies” after using THC and why others sleep better when they use CBD.
The endocannabinoid system has receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, that exist on your peripheral and central nervous systems. CBD and THC will bind to these receptors, stimulate them, and disrupt how they send and receive neurotransmitters in your body.
CBD can bind with both receptors to alleviate pain and calm the mind. THC primarily interacts with the CB1 receptor to affect your mood, manage pain, and stimulate your appetite.
CBD and THC have very similar molecular structures, allowing them to interact with your endocannabinoid system. Both compounds contain the same number of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms in their molecular structures. CBD and THC have slightly different arrangements of these atoms which causes you to experience two completely different effects.
What Is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is the second most prevalent compound found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Most producers derive CBD from the hemp plant as it contains greater amounts of CBD and less THC.
CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. Depending on your dosage and purpose, using CBD will offer a clearer, calmer mind and can promote sleep. High amounts of CBD can cause intense feelings of relaxation and tingly sensations throughout your body.
The reason CBD doesn’t offer any psychoactive effects as it bonds stronger to the CB2 receptor. CB2 receptors are primarily found in your peripheral nervous system. When CBD binds with these receptors, it reduces inflammation without altering your mind.
That isn’t to say CBD is exclusive to only CB2 receptors. It will bind and interact with some CB1 receptors, but not as strongly as THC. By binding to the CB1 receptors, CBD can negate some of the euphoric effects of THC.
CBD comes in a few forms including isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. An isolate is pure CBD without any extra compounds that may affect how it interacts with your body. Broad-spectrum CBD contains other natural cannabinoid compounds without any THC.
Full-spectrum CBD contains natural cannabinoid compounds and trace amounts of THC. Some CBD products may contain greater amounts of THC depending on the state laws.
As stated in the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD must have 0.3% THC or less to be legal at the federal level. States, where THC is legal, may have full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products containing more THC. This creates an experience known as the entourage effect, which we’ll explore more later.
The Benefits of CBD
Chances are, you’ve heard somebody raving about the therapeutic benefits of CBD. It’s legal in nearly all fifty states and is continuing to grow in popularity. This makes CBD widely available everywhere.
CBD offers a range of benefits to help you manage anything from physical pain to your mental health. Benefits include:
- Reducing symptoms of anxiety and calming the mind
- Improving mental focus
- Promoting sleep
- Reducing the severity and frequency of seizures
- Easing symptoms of depression
- Reducing migraines
- Easing inflammation
- Helping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Researchers are continuing to study the benefits and effects CBD has on the body. Current research is proving the validity of most of these benefits. Medical professionals, for example, are using medications containing CBD to treat two severe forms of epilepsy.
As research continues, we’re likely to see more benefits and uses of CBD in the medical world.
What is THC?
THC, also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and Delta 9 THC, is the most abundant coonhound found in the cannabis plant. Like CBD, THC is common in both hemp and marijuana plants. Marijuana plants, however, contain significantly higher amounts of THC.
THC is a cannabinoid well-known for its psychoactive properties. When consumed, the user will feel a euphoric uplifting sensation, known as a high.
This is due to THC interacting with CB1 receptors which connect to your central nervous system. THC will also interact with CB2 receptors but not as much as CBD.
When THC interacts with the CB1 receptors, it affects your body’s reward system. This system will release high amounts of dopamine, the hormone responsible for regulating your mood and feelings of pleasure. The release of high amounts of dopamine cause you to feel a euphoric high.
There are two main strains of the THC-containing marijuana plant, Sativa and Indica. Sativa tends to boost energy, ease symptoms of depression, and best for use during the day. Indica offers a relaxing high that’s best for sleep, easing pain, and stimulating your appetite.
The psychoactive effects of THC affect everyone differently. Some people may experience a pleasurable and happy high while others may experience feelings of anxiety and paranoia. The dose of THC and strain of marijuana you use can affect how your experience the high.
An important aspect of THC is its legality. At the federal level, THC is an illegal substance. States can legalize or prohibit the use, growth, and sale of THC-containing cannabis plans. States like Colorado and California legalized both recreational and medicinal uses of THC. Some states only legalized medical marijuana and others haven’t legalized either form.
Before you buy or use or buy products containing THC, you’ll need to check with your state’s laws to find out if THC is legal in your state.
Delta 8 THC
Recently, Delta 8 THC has been gaining popularity in the cannabis industry. Delta 8 THC is similar to Delta 9 THC but offers a far less intense high.
Delta 8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in small amounts in both hemp and marijuana plants. It forms when the plant’s extra stores of Delta 9 THC degrade. This degradation leads to Delta 8 THC.
This new type of THC offers many of the same benefits as Delta 9. Delta 8 THC is a great alternative for those who want the benefits of THC but without the intense side effects and high of Delta 9 THC. Learning how to properly dose your Delta 8 THC to maximize the therapeutic benefits.
The Benefits of THC
Medical professionals are recognizing the benefits of THC. They’ll often prescribe or recommend THC-containing marijuana to those struggling with chronic pain, cancer treatment, and other chronic conditions.
THC is common to treat:
- Symptoms of glaucoma
- Ease feelings of nausea
- Promote a healthy appetite
- Ease pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraines
- Cancer treatment side effects
- Symptoms of depression
Research into these benefits is an ongoing process. What researchers have found is proving to be promising for future uses of THC.
How CBD and THC Work Together
Combining CBD and THC, along with other naturally occurring cannabinoids, can promote an event known as the entourage effect. This effect will alter and enhance the therapeutic benefits of each cannabinoid to create a very distinct experience.
The entourage effect causes unique and enhanced effects that CBD or THC alone cannot produce. Many believe the entourage effect offers significant advantages and potential uses in medicine.
Specifically combining CBD with THC can enhance the therapeutic benefits of THC while reducing the intensity of the high. Those who are new to using THC can have a more pleasant experience by using CBD in conjunction with the THC. Those who are sensitive to or dislike the high associated with THC can use CBD to negate the feelings of paranoia and anxiety.
How to Dose CBD and THC
The key to fully enjoying the benefits of CBD and THC is knowing your recommended dose. Using too much of either CBD or THC can cause unwanted side effects.
Several factors are influencing the amount of CBD or THC you’ll need. Your body weight, the ailment you’re treating, and the concentration of CBD or THC will affect your dose.
For both CBD and THC, you must always start with the lowest possible dose. If you find a low dose doesn’t offer enough benefits, you can always increase the dosage.
CBD and THC come in tinctures, edibles, and capsules with a specific dose for each serving. Starting with these products will help you find an accurate dose. Vaping and smoking are harder to dose and are better options for those experienced with CBD and THC.
To dose CBD and THC, start with a low strength ranging from anywhere between 5 mg to 25 mg. Smaller people should err closer to the lower size while larger individuals can err closer to the higher side.
Start with a lower dose for the first week. If you’re not experiencing any therapeutic benefits, try raising the dose by 5 mg to 10 mg each week. Finding the right dose to fit your needs will require some trial and error.
CBD and THC tinctures will often share the amount of the compound per drop, per serving, or bottle. If the packaging only shares the amount of CBD or THC per bottle, you’ll need to figure out how much compound is in each drop.
One drop of oil is about 0.05 mL. A 10 mL bottle containing 1,000 mg of CBD or THC will have roughly 200 drops. Each drop will contain around 5 mg of the compound. From there, you can decide how many drops you’ll need to reach your recommended dose.
Potential Side Effects of CBD and THC
Another difference between CBD and THC is their potential negative side effects. Most side effects are avoidable and usually occur when you consume too high of a dose.
Potential side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
- Interact with or negate effects of other medications, like blood thinners
Again, the side effects of CBD are rare and avoidable with proper dosing. Those taking prescribed medications should talk with their medical provider to ensure taking CBD is safe.
Potential side effects of THC include:
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Increased thirst
- Changes in mood
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of anxiety and paranoia
- Increased heart rate
- Impaired coordination
- Temporary memory loss
The side effects of THC are more common but also avoidable. By starting with a low dose and combining THC with CBD, you can safely enjoy the benefits.
Common CBD and THC Products
CBD and THC share many of the same products. You can find both compounds in the form of:
- Flower or bud
Your preferences and the condition you’re treating with CBD or THC will determine which product is best for you. Talk with the dispensary if you have questions or concerns you have, they’re happy to help you.
Why You Need to Know the Difference Between CBD and THC
Knowing the difference between CBD and THC will help you select the right compound for your needs. It will also help you decide between different CBD products when searching through the CBD store online. CBD is best for calming the mind and increasing focus without any effects of a high. THC is best for easing chronic pain, depression, and promoting relaxation.
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