THC and CBD – what is the difference?

The two most significant cannabinoids present in cannabis plants are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). At least the most popular and researched.

Both of them are found in marijuana and hemp plants. These chemical compounds affect the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This essential regulatory system can improve multiple physical and psychological functions, including metabolism, mood, sleep, appetite, immunity, memory, and more.

Although both CBD and THC may have many health advantages, they have significant differences between them.

Here, we will break down the properties of each chemical substance, as well as its effects on the human brain and body.

What is THC?

THC is the primary psychoactive substance in cannabis. Unlike CBD, THC is responsible for inducing euphoria. A sensation generally referred to as the “high”. It functions by copying the effects of a neurotransmitter called anandamide (Ananda means Bliss in the Sanskrit language).

Anandamide plays a vital role in memory, motivation, movement, pain, appetite, vitality, and possibly inhibiting the spread of cancer cells. Due to the position of anandamide in neurogenesis (the development of new nerve cells), it also serves as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant agent. However, like most neurotransmitters, anandamide rapidly breaks down in the body, ensuring that this euphoria would not produce a perpetual or sustaining impact.

Often known as the bliss molecule, this neurotransmitter is an endocannabinoid that is naturally released by the human body. Since THC has a chemical composition similar to anandamide, it is readily recognized by the body. It interacts with cannabinoid receptors to create psychoactive effects. It is thought to deliver benefits such as anxiety reduction, appetite and sleep improvement, disease prevention, and others.

Both cannabinoids – anandamide and THC, bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS. It is binding to the CB1 receptor, which causes euphoric effects – the “high”.

Since THC and anandamide share similar properties, cannabis use can induce similar euphoric effects. When people consume cannabis by smoking or vaping, THC enters the brain in a matter of seconds, directly affecting the brain’s neurons.

THC, functioning via cannabinoid receptors, also stimulates the brain reward system which contains regions that control the response to healthy human activities such as eating. Similar to other drugs, THC is said to induce neurons in the brain reward system to produce the signaling chemical ‘dopamine’ at higher levels.

What is CBD?

CBD is the second most widespread cannabinoid present in cannabis (marijuana) after THC. However, hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) plants contain mostly CBD and only trace amounts of THC.

Unlike THC, CBD has no mind-altering effects. As such, it is commonly used as a health supplement or for medical care purposes.

Cannabidiol does not function by communicating directly with the cannabinoid’s receptors. Instead, it sends signals that cause naturally occurring endocannabinoids (that the human body produces itself) to activate the receptors. It also communicates with non-cannabinoid receptors and inactivates some receptors to achieve beneficial effects.

CBD oil is a natural herbal concentration produced from hemp flowers and leaves, including a large concentration of CBD and other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, terpenes, antioxidants, chlorophyll, amino acids, and trace amounts of other cannabinoids.

CBD is one of beyond 100+ cannabinoids so far found in cannabis plants. Like other cannabinoids, CBD communicates with receptors around the central and peripheral nervous systems and the immune system to modify the release of neurotransmitters.

There are many different reasons why people use CBD oil every day in their lives as a dietary supplement. It might promote balance, well-being, offer a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that improve wellness.

It is essential to realize that CBD oil does not make you feel euphoric or “high”. Since CBD oil is extracted from hemp and naturally contains only trace amounts (around 0.2 – 0.3  percent) of THC, it is a non-psychoactive food supplement.

Studies indicate that CBD can potentially help combat the symptoms of psychosis by inhibiting anandamide deactivation. Which might help with THC induced anxiety or panic attacks.

It means that after taking CBD oil, you would not experience any adverse effects on your sensory awareness, vision, behavior, perception, or response time. CBD may have various effects on individuals based on their weight, height, age, and other factors.

With daily CBD usage, users can feel the effects and sensations of a more active endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your body and its functions are likely to perform more effectively with the regular use of CBD. Individuals can also note the balancing effects of CBD that have a beneficial impact on sleep schedules, a balanced appetite, and an overall improved mood.

thc and cbd

Medical Applications of THC and CBD:

While some side effects and psychoactive effects do exist, some people consume THC to help with certain medical conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn Disease
  • Depression
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disorder of sleep

CBD is currently gaining attention as a health supplement for its protective properties and non-psychoactive effects. It is also used to assist in cases such as:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Dystonia
  • Arthritis
  • Heart Disease
  • Addictions

While these come from the same source, CBD and THC are different in the way they function and the results they create. They also vary in terms of their implementation and legal status. Here’s a closer look at the variations between the two compounds.

Differences Between THC and CBD:

Euphoric effect:

Although both CBD and THC contain medicinal properties, they are not all used for the same reasons. THC is widely used for leisure activities because it offers the euphoric feeling mentioned above. It connects to the CB1 receptors, which are localized receptors in the central nervous system, including the brain. These receptors induce mind-related effects when triggered, which explains why THC makes people feel “high”.

Since CBD does not communicate directly with CB1 receptors, there is no mind-altering effect whatsoever. Besides, researchers assume that it exhibits antipsychotic properties, which suggests that CBD can potentially eliminate the anxiety inducing effects of THC that occurs from the activity on CB1 receptors.

When you ingest both CBD and THC cannabinoids, CBD will act as a countermeasure to the psychoactive effects of THC, keeping users less anxious and reducing a chance of psychosis or panic attacks.

Pro tip: if you are new to using THC, it is wise to have CBD on hand as it may help with THC induced panic attacks or anxiety!

Sleep-Inducing Effect:

THC is widely used as a sleep-inducing agent. Its psychoactive properties can cause dizziness and sleepiness, making it ideal for people with insomnia or other sleep disorders.

CBD, on the other hand, is thought to promote alertness and boost energy levels. However, a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that high doses of CBD could lead to longer, deeper sleep. So, it may depend heavily on the amount of the dosage. More research needs to be done to be sure of that.

In addition to its psychoactive properties, THC can also induce anxiety and paranoia. It has been revealed that one in five people observe these feelings of anxiety and temporary distress, when using THC.

THC has been shown to have both temporary and long-term adverse effects on the brain, such as memory and cognitive impairment. Studies prove that CBD has minimal or no immediate or long-term side effects. CBD counteracts the anxiety and cognitive impairment caused by THC. Even when offered on its own, CBD provides an anxiety reduction.

However, it is best to consume full-spectrum CBD, which contains trace amounts of THC, as both cannabinoids interact together with other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids and create stronger medical effects than isolated CBD alone!

Where is THC and CBD found? (Nature):

Although both CBD and THC can be discovered in marijuana and hemp, their proportions may vary considerably. Generally, the concentration of THC in marijuana is significantly higher. Marijuana is mostly cultivated to maximize the THC content so that it can produce more potent psychoactive effects.

Meanwhile, hemp contains huge quantities of CBD and small traces of THC. Its THC concentration is typically no more than 0.3 percent, which is almost ten times less than the minimum effective strain of weed. Also, diverse strains of hemp have been developed to optimize the concentration and percentage of CBD. Because of these factors, CBD is mostly extracted from hemp plants (Cannabis Sativa L.).

Perception and Legal Status:

CBD and THC are therefore viewed differently in the eyes of the law due to their variations in psychoactivity.

THC has been misleadingly branded as a “dangerous cannabinoid” while CBD has been labeled as “beneficial cannabinoid.”

This stigma is both cynical and deceptive, as THC still has many beneficial therapeutic properties. As a result, several countries are calling for the legalization of marijuana. Countries such as Canada, Spain, Uruguay and some U.S. States have legalized marijuana.

Good news is that the cannabis plant is being legalized in more and more countries and U.S. states – Mexico, Colombia, Portugal, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Nevada, Massachusetts, Oregon, Maine, Washington, and Alaska could be following the legalization shortly. On the other hand, CBD is already legal in the U.S. and EU, and many countries around the world.

The key distinguishing factor is whether the CBD is extracted from hemp. Since CBD extracted from hemp has no psychoactive effect, the purchase, sale, or possession of hemp CBD goods is federally legal in the US (all 50 states), UK, The Netherlands, and many other countries.

According to the discussion stated above in the overview of studies, we can conclude that CBD and THC are both compounds that have their uniqueness and medical properties. And when used together, both work even better, which counter their side-effects.

The focus of Sativum is to improve people’s health and wellness. We’re curating only the best of the best CBD products to help you live your healthiest life. Sativum offers a wide range of CBD products for all types of consumers. If you have any questions about products, manufacturing processes, or extraction methods, please let us know. We’re on a mission to help as many people as possible.

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