As the demand for natural remedies increase and the stigma around marijuana fades, the use of CBD and THC is becoming more common. As a result, consumers are getting more curious.
Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two primary compound constituents of the hemp plant (also known as the marijuana plant).
While THC is illegal in many states, CBD has become legal nationwide.
So, what is the difference between CBD and THC?
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plants.
It is antipsychotic, meaning that unlike other parts of the plant, does not intoxicate its users. Cannabinoids are found in many other plants, but CBD is only found in the cannabis.
CBD is becoming a hot supplement for pain, anxiety, sleep, and even ADHD management.
The compound affects the body’s endocannabinoid system, where it interacts indirectly with the system’s receptors.
The two primary receptors CBD communicates with are the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Since CBD does not interact with them in a direct manner, such as binding onto them, it doesn’t inflict intoxication on the consumer.
CBD has shown to have many health benefits, and has been proven to:
- Alleviate pain
- Reduce anxiety
- Help with ADHD management
- Improve sleep issues
- Increase energy levels
- And more
Although CBD is being used by many people, doctors cannot prescribe it, only make recommendations.
CBD does not have a set recommended daily allowance (RDA), or, daily dosage. Therefore, it must be bought by the consumer.
However, taking CBD while on other medications can be a bit risky.
If you are already on medications or plan on taking CBD along with a pharmaceutical, it is important to talk to your doctor before using CBD.
CBD is metabolized by the enzyme CYP3A4, which also metabolizes approximately 60% of all other pharmaceutical medications.
When two new substances are introduced to the bloodstream and being metabolized by the same enzyme, it can cause a multiplier effect. As a result, the effects of both medications can either be delayed or serious side effects can occur.
CBD supplements come in a variety forms, such as gel capsules, tinctures, under the tongue sprays, vapes, and oils.
While all of the supplements do the same thing, if you aren’t sure which one is for you, consider getting a recommendation from your doctor.
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the other compound constituent found in the cannabis and hemp plants.
Unlike its CBD relative, THC is psychoactive, making it the cannabis agent that gets people high.
THC is illegal in many parts of the United States because of its intoxicating properties.
However, as of 2019, recreational use of THC has been legalized in 10 states as well as the District of Columbia, and medical use has been legalized in 33.
Despite its intoxicating abilities, using THC does help with better relaxation.
However, its effects also include:
- Altered mind
- Lost sense of reality
- Increased heart rate or anxiety
- Coordination issues
- Delayed reactions
- Memory loss
THC interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system like CBD. However, the interaction between THC and the receptors is direct, meaning the THC binds onto the receptors.
CB1 receptors exist abundantly in the brain regions responsible for memory, cognition, emotion, and coordination.
CB2 receptors are abundant in the immune system and central nervous system.
Therefore, direct interaction with these receptors causes the neurotransmitters to go into a “fight or flight” mode, which then causes the effects listed above.
As you can see, all of the effects are related to the regions and systems the receptors influence.
Direct interaction with the endocannabinoid receptors isn’t the only action responsible for the drastic effects of THC.
The compound partially mimics the effects of neurotransmitters anandamide and 2-AG, which the body naturally produces in order to regulate habits related to eating, sleeping, and pain perception.
Even if the compound is legal in your state, it is not recommended to take THC as a supplement on your own. Instead, always seek a doctor’s approval.
Like CBD, doctors can only recommend doses of THC, as it is classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
However, in order to purchase medical THC a doctor’s recommendation is mandatory.
What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?
CBD and THC are similar in many aspects. After all, they come from the same plant.
However, the use for medical purposes, legality, and bodily effects of each compound are drastically different.
What makes such a big difference is only a slight variation in the chemical composition of each compound.
CBD and THC have the exact same chemical formula, but the atoms are arranged in different orders.
The small but important variation is what makes the effects and functions of the constituents so different from each other.
Ultimately, the design and structure of each compound is what determines their interactions with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
1. Psychoactive Components
The biggest difference between the two compounds is that THC is psychoactive and CBD is not.
While THC gets users high when consumed, CBD gives users the relief they want without causing any mind-altering effects.
The reason CBD is not psychoactive like its THC relative is because it does not interact directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors like THC does.
Due to this process, users are more likely to experience the results they want when taking CBD than when taking THC.
CBD provides health benefits without causing major side effects if any at all.
On the other hand, THC might provide temporary relief from pain or stress, but cause the user to lose a sense of reality.
2. Medical & Health Benefits
The medical and health benefits one can receive from taking CBD and THC are very similar.
CBD and THC both exert their effects on the endocannabinoid system, meaning they can serve some of the same healing purposes.
The body produces cannabinoids naturally on its own through the endocannabinoid system.
However, many people experience chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and other similar problems because their bodies aren’t producing enough.
CBD and THC supplements increase the body’s natural production of these cannabinoids, which is why they have the health benefits they do.
A few of the benefits CBD and THC both provide include:
- Pain relief
- Reduce in nausea
- Reduce in anxiety
- Help with migraines
- Reduce in inflammation
The difference between the benefits of CBD and THC are the psychoactive effects that come with them.
3. Pain Relief
One of the benefits CBD and THC have in common is alleviating pain.
However, research has led medical experts to believe CBD is more effective for chronic pain relief while THC is better for spasms and cramps.
CBD has also shown to have little to no side effects, while THC inflicts major ones.
Many people who use THC for pain relief say taking it isn’t worth experiencing the psychotic effects it brings.
Additionally, taking THC in high doses can increase pain rather than decrease. Therefore, if taking THC, one should do so in small amounts.
Since CBD and THC both have benefits related to pain, some medical experts recommend taking a combination of both in order to best combat pain.
THC vs CBD Effects
The major effects THC can exert on the body is plays a big role in the legality of the compound for recreational use because of just how impairing they are.
Most of the benefits THC provides can also be provided by CBD, which is not impairing or intoxicating.
The side effects of CBD are considered extremely minimal by medical experts, and most are a quick and easy fix.
Plus, there have been no deaths associated with the use of CBD, making it one of the safest natural remedies.
Side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
- Mood swings
On the other hand, side effects of THC include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry and red eyes
- Increased anxiety
- Impaired thinking
- Lost sense of reality
Of course, side effects of taking either CBD or THC can be made much worse if a multiplier effect is caused by pharmaceutical medications a person is taking simultaneously.
Before taking either supplement, talk to your doctor about a recommendation or replacing your prescription medication.
Is CBD Legal?
A common question people ask about CBD is whether or not it’s legal.
CBD has been accepted as safe and made legal in all 50 states of the U.S., thanks to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also called the “Farm Bill”) signed by President Trump.
The Act legalized any part of the marijuana plant that has a THC concentration no higher than 0.3 percent.
Not all marijuana and cannabis plants have the same level or concentration of THC. Some are higher strained in THC and others are lower.
When CBD is extracted from the plant for medical purposes, it is typically taken from a cannabis plant with a low strain of THC.
Furthermore, supplements sold legally never contain more than 0.3 percent THC.
Unlike medical THC, a doctor’s recommendation is not required to purchase CBD supplements.
While it is wise to seek a medical professional’s advice before deciding on a specific brand, CBD can be easily and legally bought over the counter.
Which One is Better for Replacing Prescription Medication: CBD or THC?
Replacing prescription medications with natural remedies such as CBD and THC has many health benefits.
While the body eventually depends on the effects of prescription pharmaceuticals, CBD and THC encourage the body to produce more of the nutrients it needs in a natural way.
CBD is considered safer than THC because of its lesser side effects, interaction in the endocannabinoid system, and the legality of the supplement.
However, some people find THC to work better for the specific problems they’re facing.
To determine which supplement is the best for you and your health, talk to a doctor today about which one to use and how to cure your body in a more natural manner.