CBD vs. THC

February 21, 2019

With all the hype around marijuana being legalized across many states in the US & Canada in late 2018, you’ve probably come across the acronyms THC & CBD. If you know what they’re all about, great! Maybe give a read of one of our articles in Sativa or Indica!

If you’re not aware of THC or CBD and the differences between them, let us help you out. Read the below for the latest facts on both.

So, what is THC?

THC is Tetrahydrocannabinol and it’s one of the main chemical components of cannabis. With Tetrahydrocannabinol being one the 113+ identifiable cannabinoids, it’s the principal psychoactive. You’ll see that many different types of strains have a related THC level.

image of the chemical break-down of THC

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannboid that was initially discovered in the 1940’s. It constituets a large majority of cannbais plants’ chemical makeup; averaging at least 40 per cent of the plant’s total extract consisting of CBD. CBD -elated studies on pain relief, psychology disorders and other types of mental illinesses are on-going.

Image of cbd's chemical structure

 

CBD & THC: A side-by-side comparison

CBD & THC have a wide variety of similarities:

  • They nearly have the exact same molecular makeup with 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen.
  • They are used to assist in the same health benefits of reducing inflammation, helping those with insomnia or PTSD, pain relief and general anxiety.
  • The look and feel of THC & CBD buds are almost identical.

 

The main difference between CBD & THC:

The main difference between CBD & THC is that THC naturally possesses chemicals that can alter your learning, memory and general cognition to a greater extent than CBD. THC can affect you to the point where driving or operating any type of machinery or heavily motorized vehicles can be extremely dangerous. However, CBD is completely devoid of these types of “perception altering chemicals” and is usually preferred as the safer route. Many users of cannabinoids will opt for CBD over THC due to these negative physical, mental and psychological effects.

 

Of note is intake: Most cannabidiols can be taken into the body in many different ways which can include the following:

  • Smoking
  • Vapor
  • Aerosol spray into the mouth, check or nose
  • Orally, through edibles, liquid (tea or mixed into a drink) capsules.

 

Pros and cons of CBD & THC:

Both CBD and THC have there general drawbacks. In excess, both can be harmful to not just the body, but also the mind and mental health. To first understand the benefits of cons of CBD & THC, we need to understand how both of these cannabinoids affect the human body.

A cannaboid is a compound that interacts directly with our body’s endocannaboid system (ECS), which is a network of receptors that interacts with our organs and vital functions. In 1988, and by the end of 1993, scientists had discovered the first and second cannbinoid receptors respectively and they were classified as CB1 and CB2 receptors in early 1995. CB1 receptors are found in the human brain in all different regions and have been linked to the higher mental/physiological functions of memory, high cognition, emotion and motor coordination. On the contrary, CB2 receptors have been linked to the central nervous system and immune system of the human body.

CB1 and CB2 receptors work as the catalyst for the benefits of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. Pain relief, mood management, appetite suppression, anxiety control and other benefits more are all controlled by the CB1 and CB2 receptors which CBD and THC can interfere with.

Image of CBD vs. THC and the biosynthesis of each of the chemicals

Why does THC and CBD affect the body differently?

CBD and THC affect the body differently because of their slightly different molecular structure. The one important difference is that THC contains a cyclic ring and CBD contains a hydroxyl group. This extremely  small, yet important difference, gives the compounds entirely different pharmacological properties.

THC is able bind to CB1 and stimulate the receptor, which can cause the feelings of anxiety, europhia and other emotional psychological changes . However, CBD is a negative allosteric modulator of CB1 and, therefore, changes the shape of CB1 and weakens THC’s ability to bind to the CB1 receptor. This is one of the main reasons that CBD does not bind to or stimulate the CB1 and in turn does not produce the psychotropic effects associated with THC.

CB1 and CB2 receptors THC vs. CBD

Medical uses of CBD

  • Anti-seizure
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-nauseant
  • Analgesic
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Anti-tumor effects
  • Reduces glaucoma symptoms
  • Anti-psychotic  
  • Sleep aid
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscular spasticity

CBD can easily provide the same health benefits as THC, but without inducing psychoactive effects.

Here is what some expert sources say about CBD:

  • CBD is deemed safer for use than THC, and long-term use of THC has been linked with many different psychatrics disorders, which can include schziophrenia

 

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) published a pre-review report that provides the most-up to date summation of all of the current and future usages of CBD. As of right now, CBD has been used to treat some forms of epilepsy (dravet syndrome). It may also help the sufferers of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and many other neurological and psychological diseases.

 

This is all great. But which one should I really use?

The simple answer is: It depends. Some scientists have shown that THC is over one thousand times stronger and more potent than CBD, especially in the psychotropic effects associated with “marijuana”. Essentially, this means that a person would have to smoke 1,000 “joints” of modified CBD strain marijuana to receive the same high than that of a typical THC plant. Knowing this, having low psychotropic effects might mean reduced clinical benefits.

To date, many of the studies on marijuana and cannabinoids as a whole have been conducted using THC genetically modified plants and therefore, this means that there could be many applications with CBD that have not yet been discovered.

Given all of the above, we can confidently say that CBD and THC are so different that comparing them is an impossible task. They both have applications in clinical practice; one providing general relief at different levels without having a “high” feeling;and the other having a very potent effect amongst users and giving them that “euphoric high”. There is no doubt that THC is abused for its physical and psychoactive effects, but there are many great medicinal applications to proper THC usage.

It’s essentially what you want to achieve and what ailment you need to address.. At the end of the day, you should always consult with your physician to find out if THC and/or CBD is right for you!