CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference?

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Let’s Talk About CBD and THC

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, which is comprised of both marijuana and hemp. These chemical compounds have been sparking conversation amongst medical professionals, researchers, wellness enthusiasts and of course, the media, due to the recent popularity in CBD-based products.

In short, CBD is the non-psychoactive element of the cannabis plant, increasingly becoming more famous for its astounding therapeutic potential on everything from anxiety and inflammation relief to significantly reducing seizures and even proliferating cancer cells.

THC, CBD’s “cousin”, is the compound responsible for the “high” people experience when smoking marijuana. Because this is a CBD Discussion Forum, we want to keep our focus on the amazing effects CBD produces, but it is important to know the distinguishing factors of the two powerful compounds to get the complete picture.

Here, we’re breaking down the properties of each chemical compound along with the effects they produce to provide you with the most up-to-date, in-depth knowledge on not only your desired CBD products, but how their healing properties aid in our brains and bodies.

This post will discuss the effects that both CBD and THC have on users. Before we explain that, it’s important to provide a brief overview of the body’s Endocannabinoid System:

CBD and THC have an effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an essential regulatory system that can enhance many physical and psychological functions including metabolism, mood, sleep, appetite, immunity, memory and pain perception. While both CBD and THC provide many health benefits to individuals, they have significant differences you need to know about.

What is CBD?

CBD is the second-most abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant (the first is THC). CBD is widely used as a health supplement or medical treatment for anyone looking to improve their overall health and well-being to people who have serious medical conditions like epilepsy or Parkinson’s.

There are many different forms of CBD (read the full article on that here) including capsules, oils, vapes, edibles and beverages.

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When someone takes CBD, the cannabinoid sends signals to prompt the naturally-occurring cannabinoids to activate its relative receptors, causing users to feel its therapeutic and healing effects. In addition, CBD interacts with non-cannabinoid receptors (like serotonin and adenosine) to produce its many beneficial effects.

According to research, CBD can help with pain, inflammation, anxiety, anxiety, depression, seizure and addiction, among other conditions.

What is THC?

THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. It is responsible for creating that elevated state of euphoria, a feeling better known as “high.” THC works by copying the effects of a neurotransmitter naturally produced by the body called anandamide, also known as “the bliss molecule.”

Because THC has a similar chemical structure to anandamide, it is welcome with open arms by the body. Allow us to give you a visual: Think of THC as a puzzle piece that fits in perfectly with its neighboring puzzle piece, anandamide.

Similar to CBD, THC interacts with cannabinoid receptors to produce psychoactive effects and provide benefits such as anxiety relief, appetite enhancement, sleep improvement and disease prevention.

Even though CBD and THC come from the same source (cannabis), they are different in the way they operate once consumed or taken. And (this is a BIG “and”), they differ in terms of application and legal status (Read all about CBD’s legal status here).

Looking at the contrasting effects CBD and THC produce, you will better understand their healing properties and why some people prefer CBD only products vs CBD + THC products.
Effects of CBD and THC

Here we explain three different effects that both CBD and THC produce, in different ways, when taken (euphoric, sleep-inducing and side effects):

Euphoric Effect

Both CBD and THC contain therapeutic properties, but they are not always used for the same purposes. THC is commonly used for recreational purposes because it provides that feeling of euphoria mentioned earlier. THC has a high-binding affinity to a category of cannabinoid receptors found in the ECS, CB1 receptors.

CB1 receptors are concentrated in the central nervous system, including the brain, and cause mind-related effects when they are activated, explaining perfectly why THC makes people feel like they are on (an amusing) cloud nine.

CBD, on the other hand, does not interact directly with CB1 receptors, so it does not produce any mind-altering effect. Things are starting to make sense now, eh?

Additionally, researchers believe CBD possesses antipsychotic properties, meaning it can suppress the euphoric feeling that results from the activity of CB1 receptors.

When you ingest both cannabinoids, CBD works against THC, counteracting the psychoactive effects THC produces, keeping users more sober without compromising its health benefits.

Sleep-Inducing Effect

Have you ever thought smoking marijuana before bed would result in a good night’s rest? Have thought about doing it? If so, you might be familiar with the notion that THC is widely used as a sleep-inducer. Its psychoactive properties can cause drowsiness and sleepiness, making it an ideal sleep aid (especially for those who suffer from insomnia).

CBD, in contrast, is known to promote wakefulness and boost energy levels. Not in the same way a strong cup of espresso would, but definitely the opposite of THC’s sleepy feels. Although (at the risk of contradicting ourselves), a study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that high doses of CBD can result in longer sleep, so it could largely depend on the dosage.

Side-Effects and Safety

In addition to feelings on both ends of the spectrum (those of euphoria and calm), THC has a slew of side effects, while CBD doesn’t seem to have any.

Along with its psychoactive effects, THC is known for causing anxiety and paranoia. It has also been proven to have both temporary and long-term adverse effects on the brain, like memory and cognitive impairment. Yikes.

By contrast, studies show CBD to have minimal to no immediate or long-term side effects. In fact, CBD not only counteracts the anxiety and cognitive impairments caused by THC, it provides anxiety-reducing benefits when administered on its own. CBD for the win!

Takeaways

  • CBD is the cannabis plant’s non-psychoactive, healing compound
  • THC is the cannabis plant’s psychoactive, mind-altering compound
  • Both CBD and THC have therapeutic properties
  • More research needs to be done on the promise that CBD holds

To learn even more about CBD vs THC, take a look at our previous posts here, here and here.

How Do You Take CBD?
4 Common CBD Misconceptions

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