There’s no denying it: cannabis and its cannabinoid molecules are making a big comeback. With an increasing array of applications, it's crucial to understand the difference between the two main cannabinoids: CBD and THC.
“Hang on!”, you say, “this is already confusing. Can you help me figure out what THC and CBD are?”
THC and CBD are known as “cannabinoids”. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors, which you can learn about in our blog on the Endocannabinoid System. There are over 100 cannabinoids identified in the Marijuana plant, and the molecules, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been studied and researched the most extensively. Cannabinoids and other components of cannabis have been demonstrated to modulate many physiological systems in the human brain and body.
THC – You Know Me
Most people, even non-cannabis consumers have heard of the THC cannabinoid from either direct experience or in the media, such as on film or via Google. Tetrahydrocannabinol, know as THC for short is the cannabis chemical that's responsible for giving users the psychoactive effects we commonly refer to as getting "high" or being "stoned". It's not all about getting lit with THC though; THC has been proven to push medical boundaries by helping patients reduce pain and shrink tumours, amongst many other benefits.
CBD – Set Me Free
CBD (cannabidiol) is perhaps the most exciting cannabinoid due to its vast medical benefits. CBD has been studied and researched the most extensively and was one of the first breakthrough discoveries around the cannabis plant. When you hear people discussing cannabis products for therapeutic benefits they are usually referring to this cannabinoid. Currently, many studies exist on CBD, and many companies are actively researching its uses in a clinical setting.
- CBD will not get you high. THC will get you high as a kite!
- The majority of medical benefits associated with cannabis come from CBD and other non-THC molecules.
- CBD has the same chemical formula as THC, but the atoms are arranged differently. This slight variance causes THC to create a psychoactive effect while CBD lacks such an influence.
In other words, CBD dominates Hemp and THC dominates marijuana but remember – they are both from the Cannabis plant!
...but how does Hemp fit into the THC/CBD story? Click here to learn
How CBD & THC Work
Cannabinoids perform their effects by interacting with specific cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells. These receptors are found in different parts of the central nervous system, and the two main types of cannabinoid receptors in the body are CB1 and CB2.
THC binds directly to CB1 receptors through the body, and importantly the CB1 receptor is responsible for getting users "high". No surprise that CBD does not bind with this receptor but interacts with other receptors and pathways inside the body.
Described as sister molecules, THC and CBD exert their effects more effectively when used in synergy with each other; this is referred to as the "Entourage Effect". We recommend full plant extract products rather than isolates or synthetic cannabis. Multiple clinical studies have proven full plant extracts to be more effective and easier to dose.
THC & CBD Effects
THC will produce a euphoric high, positive mood alteration and sensory stimulation when consumed. With prolonged use, THC can produce mental conditions such as paranoia and anxiety in certain users. THC is the favourite of recreational cannabis users and can be consumed a myriad of ways including smoking, vaping and of course eating those delicious cookies!
CBD does not produce any emotional or mental effects and can counteract the "high" THC produces. In some cases, people smoke CBD buds to reduce the potential negative effects of THC buds.
CBD has potent anti-tumoral, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. Millions of patients worldwide have treated various symptoms with CBD successfully; this can be done either by smoking a high CBD strain or ingesting CBD orally such as taking a tincture under the tongue.
There are many other cannabinoids inside the plant: CBN, CBG, CBA and more. Ongoing research studies are being conducted to find the potential benefits from these under-utilised cannabinoids, and the early results are very promising. Expect to hear more very soon!
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