With the growing legal use of hemp and other cannabis products, more consumers are becoming curious about their options, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds obtained in the Cannabis plants.
Nowadays, CBD vs. THC is a hot topic for potential health benefits. Both CBD and THC are natural compounds derived from the same cannabis sativa plants. The key question is to know the differences between CBD vs. THC.
You should know that CBD and THC are two of the most famous natural cannabinoids of cannabis plants. Both cannabis and hemp can give us CBD and THC. Cannabis contains a higher concentration of THC, but hemp contains a higher concentration of CBD. More THC is found in marijuana, and so, marijuana is illegal.
This interest is likely to grow as cannabis and marijuana products become legal in more states. Many different products have emerged containing CBD, THC, or both designed to alleviate stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
If you want to understand these products’ side effects and potential benefits, it is important to know more about THC vs. CBD. Knowledge about CBD vs. THC effects will help you select the perfect one. Moreover, you also have to understand the differences between CBD oil and THC oil and CBD vs. THC benefits.
What Is CBD?
CBD, the short name of cannabidiol, is the second most prominent chemical compound prevalent in cannabis plants. Roger Adams- an American organic chemist, first discovered CBD during the 1940s. This non-psychoactive natural cannabinoid has recently become more popular as a herbal treatment for different conditions.
CBD can be produced from hemp or marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD has trace amounts (not more than 0.3%) of THC and is FDA-approved, but marijuana-derived CBD may contain more, which is federally illegal.
What Is THC?
THC, the short form of tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive and the most famous natural ingredient prevalent in cannabis- especially marijuana. Following The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), THC activates the brain’s reward system by signaling the release of dopamine- the brain chemical, a neurotransmitter playing an important role in mood and pleasure.
THC causes people to experience euphoric feelings by triggering a higher-than-normal dopamine release. THC is often administrated or consumed by smoking marijuana, but it can also be available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more.
CBD vs. THC: Key Differences
While THC and CBD share similarities in effects on the endocannabinoid system, some key differences exist between these two chemical compounds.
- Non-psychoactive and does not produce a high
- Sourced from hemp
- Psychoactive and produces a high
- Sourced from marijuana.
Some other differences between CBD vs. THC are explained below:
CBD and THC have the same structure of molecules with 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. But the difference between the two molecules is that they don’t have the same chemical arrangement, and for the same reason, the body receives them as different compounds.
The different arrangement in molecular structure gives CBD and THC different chemical properties and affect your body differently.CBD and THC both are chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids, and for this allows property, they can interact with your cannabinoid receptors.
Both CBD and THC work with receptors to release neurotransmitters in your brain and affect things like pain, mood, sleep, and memory.
CBD and THC are not similar in psychoactive effects despite similar chemical structures. CBD is psychoactive, not as same as THC. It doesn’t get you high, unlike THC. Rather CBD helps with depression, seizures, and anxiety. THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain and produces a high or a sense of euphoria.
On the contrary, CBD binds very weakly to CB1 receptors. To bind to the CB1 receptor, CBD needs THC and, in turn, can help reduce some unwanted psychoactive effects of THC, like euphoria or sedation.
Cannabis-related laws are regularly developing in the United States, but CBD is still technically considered a Schedule I drug under federal law. The Controlled Substances Act has removed hemp from the list, but not only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but also the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are still classifying CBD as a Schedule I drug.
However, 36 states and Washington D.C. have passed cannabis-related laws, making medical cannabis- medical marijuana- with high levels of THC legal to be prescribed by a licensed physician. All the remaining 14 states have passed laws allowing cannabidiol (CBD) extract to be used, usually in oil form, having minimal or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). And it has often been done to treat epilepsy or seizures in seriously ill children.
Since the states have variations in their regulations regarding CBD’s legal status, they have divided all the U.S. states into four categories: dark green, emerald, light green, and grey. Moreover, some states have made recreational use of cannabis and THC legal.
So, if you want to buy products with CBD or THC, you must research your state’s laws. Suppose you have or carry any cannabis-related products in a state where they’re illegal or don’t have a medical prescription where the products are legal for medical treatment. In that case, you may have to face legal penalties.
Both the cannabinoids, THC and CBD, are stored in the body’s fat and can appear on drug tests for a certain period- several days or weeks- after using them. Every drug test can’t detect CBD, but there exist CBD-sensitive tests. Generally, drug testing is designed for detecting THC—not for CBD—in a person’s body system.
So you can expect that THC or marijuana use would show up on screening because most standard drug tests look for THC or THC-related chemicals.
CBD and THC have many common medical benefits and can relieve some of the same conditions. But CBD doesn’t cause the euphoric effects that THC does. Some people prefer CBD for this non-psychoactive effect.
In June 2018, the first and only prescription medication, Epidiolex, containing CBD was approved by the FDA for treating rare, difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy. CBD is used to help with:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Psychosis or mental disorders
THC can help with the following conditions:
- Muscle spasticity
- Low appetite
Potential Side Effects
CBD rarely shows any noticeable side effects, even after very large doses. The World Health Organization (WHO) has mentioned in its research that CBD is tolerated by patients, without signs of toxicity or serious side effects.
But on the other hand, THC has a few well-known side effects, and all these side effects are involved with the compound’s psychoactive properties.
THC can cause the following side effects:
- Problems with concentration
- Memory loss
CBD may show some slight side effects, including:
- Upset stomach
How are CBD and THC Similar?
CBD and THC are similar in some functional ways. They both have been found to help manage sleep troubles and physical pain jointly; they can work together and have even more potent medical benefits. For example, Nabiximols is a 1:1 THC and CBD mix used to relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis and cancer-related pain. These Nabiximols are approved for use in 27 countries, except the U.S.
Clinical studies have also suggested that THC and CBD mixes can be useful in controlling symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- CBD and THC can also be similar in Ingestion Methods like
- Smoke inhalation by igniting dried cannabis flower
- Edibles like gummies
- Vapor inhalation via a vape pen
- Oil or extracts of the plant material
CBD vs. THC: Which One Should You Take?
Your product choice will depend mainly on your desired effects. If you want stress relief or better sleep, you should use CBD because CBD may provide your desired benefits. On the contrary, THC might be a better choice to treat conditions like poor appetite or tremors.
THC and CBD may also work for a negative effect on some health conditions or may interact with certain medications. So caution and pre-knowledge are a must before taking these products. Before choosing a THC or CBD product, you have to check state laws to ensure that these products are legal to consume.
Even though hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC are Federally approved, those trace amounts are still illegal in some states.
CBD and THC are yielded from the same cannabis genus, but these compounds have different properties to separate them. THC has the psychoactive effects to get you high, and CBD is more well known for its health healing benefits. However, before using any, you should consult with your doctor and consider how these affect other medications.