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THC vs CBD Comparison: What's the Difference?


CBD vs THC Comparison

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.

They are often mentioned in the same breath and both work with your endocannabinoid system to produce effects in the body and mind.

Despite their similarities, CBD and THC are quite different in their effects.

This article aims to shed light on the differences between THC and CBD, providing insights into their effects on the body, their potential medical applications, legality, how they are used, etc.

Understanding these differences will empower individuals to make educated choices in leveraging the medical potential of cannabis.

Table of Contents

  1. What is THC?
  2. What is CBD?
  3. CBD vs THC Comparison: Key Differences Between Them
  4. Can CBD and THC Work Better Together?
  5. Can CBD Affect THC?
  6. How to Take CBD and THC?
  7. CBD vs THC: Which One is better?

What is THC?

THC compound

THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis plants, which derives by removing the acetyl group from THCA.

It is one of the most well-known cannabinoids and is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana use.

When THC is consumed or inhaled, it binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system, particularly the CB1 receptors.

This interaction alters the release of neurotransmitters, resulting in various physiological and psychological effects. The most notable effect is the euphoric “high” commonly associated with marijuana.

THC is available in various forms, including dried flowers (commonly known as marijuana or weed), oils, edibles, and concentrates.

What is CBD?

CBD compound

CBD is another compound that's also found in cannabis, but unlike its cousin THC, CBD will not get you high.

CBD can be derived from any type of cannabis sativa plant, but it's legal throughout the U.S. only when it comes from hemp specifically.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is commonly found in health products. You'll find CBD gummies, tinctures, topicals, and more. It's said to have a range of health benefits.

CBD is nonintoxicating. Tiny amounts of THC may be found in full-spectrum CBD products as they can legally contain up to 0.3% THC.

CBD vs THC Comparison: Key Differences Between Them

Key Differences Between CBD and THC

Here's what you need to know about the difference between CBD and THC.

1. Chemical Structure

Both CBD and THC have the same chemical formula, each cannabinoid contains 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms.

However, their atoms are arranged differs! While the structure of CBD consists of two 6-membered rings, THC has an additional 6-membered ring that is formed via the attachment of a carbon and an oxygen atom (called an ether bond).

It's this small change in molecular structure that allows CBD and THC to have unique physiological properties and affect your body in different ways.

2. Psychoactive Properties

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells in the body. They play an important role in a wide range of functions including sleep, pain, appetite, mood, and the immune system.

The two main receptors in the endocannabinoid system are CB1, which is largely found in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2, which is mostly found in the immune system (and in much lower levels in the central nervous system).

THC tends to bind with both receptors, particularly the CB1 receptors. This interaction alters the release of neurotransmitters, resulting in various physiological and psychological effects. The most notable effect is the euphoric “high” commonly associated with marijuana.

CBD, on the other hand, has little affinity for either, so it doesn't have psychoactive effects—in other words, it won't cause you to get high. Instead, it influences these receptors indirectly, leading to a range of potential therapeutic effects.

3. Addiction

THC has the potential for addiction, whereas according to the World Health OrganizationTrusted Source, there's no evidence that CBD results in misuse or dependence.

In fact, CBD might be able to help withTrusted Source addiction to certain substances like opioids, although this needs to be studied in more detail.

4. Health Benefits and Uses

While CBD and THC often have similar potential health benefits and are often used to treat many of the same ailments (such as Insomnia, pain, anxiety, nausea), there are some differences.

THC is often effective in managing pain and muscle spasticity, reducing nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite, treating insomnia, and addressing certain mental health conditions.

Some clinical research indicates that THC helps cancer patients cope with chemotherapy-induced nausea. In addition, THC (particularly in the potent form Rick Simpson Oil) may be used as a supplemental treatment for certain cancers.

CBD on its own is much more predictable than THC and may alleviate: Anxiety and irritability, depression, Chronic pain, Inflammation, Nerve pain, Epileptic seizures, etc.

In June 2018, the FDA Trusted Source approved Epidiolex, which is the first CBD prescription medication. It's produced from the cannabis plant and refined into an isolate that is 99% pure CBD. It's used to treat rare, difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy.

5. Side Effects and Risks

CBD is typically well tolerated, even in large doses. Any side effects of CBD are likelyTrusted Source the result of drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking. This may include liver damage.

THC, as the psychoactive component of cannabis, can cause more noticeable temporary side effects and long-term negative psychiatric effects.

These often involve the brain and include: Cognitive impairment, Motor impairment, Risk of addiction, Anxiety and fear, Psychosis, paranoia, Seizures, Respiratory depression, changes in the brain, etc.

In addition, the long-term use of THC and THC-containing products, particularly by inhalation (smoking or vaping), is associated with lung and heart disease.

THC has very negative impacts on the brains of children and adolescents. It's particularly dangerous for these groups.

THC can actually rewire the reward and stress signals in the developing brain, which increases the chances of both drug addiction and psychosis later in life.

6. Legality

When choosing CBD or THC products, it is also important to consider their legality.

CBD is legal in all 50 states thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. But to be classified as CBD in the United States, products must have a THC concentration below 0.3%.

And It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.

THC, on the other hand, is illegal federally and still classified under a schedule 1 drug.

Each state varies slightly on how they define and regulate the legal use, prescription, or sale of cannabis.

Some states have recreational and medical programs that allowed for citizens to enjoy THC consumption from marijuana products.

Under the Medical Program, THC is only legal within the confines of the Misuse of Drugs Act if it is a component of a cannabis-based medicinal product.

Any prescription must be initiated by a doctor on the GMC specialist register, trained to treat the specific condition for which the patient is receiving treatment.

Any consumption, possession, supply, produce, or import/export of THC outside of this specific situation is illegal.

Because the laws regarding the use of cannabis and cannabis products are rapidly changing, you should always check your state's laws before using products containing CBD or THC.

7. Drug Testing

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are stored in the body's fat. They can show up Trusted Source on drug tests for several days or weeks after you use them.

When it comes to marijuana drug testing, people who use CBD oil for treatment don't need to worry. Pure CBD oils do not have psychoactive effects on users and are not the focus of a drug test.

However, you have to be careful in choosing the products you use because many questionable CBD oils have minute traces of THC.

THC, on the other hand, has the same detection window as smoked marijuana. Urine testing can identify the cannabinoid for up to 72 hours.

Oral fluid testing is the most effective way to determine impairment. Depending on the dose, THC can be detected in saliva between 8 and 24 hours after consumption.

Can CBD and THC Work Better Together?

CBD and THC Work Better Together

In the late 1990s, scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat first discovered an increase in cannabinoid activity when a wide range of cannabinoids are in the body at one time.

This effect, called the entourage effect, often referred to as whole-body or whole-plant benefits occurs when many cannabinoids work synergistically to boost their impacts.

There's some evidence that the entourage effect makes taking THC and CBD together more effective than either alone.

Can CBD Affect THC?

General research suggests that CBD has the potential of lowering THC's psychoactive effects.

It builds upon the concept of the entourage effect regulating the impact of every cannabinoid, creating a balance.

However, it may also indicate that CBD works alongside other cannabinoids to mitigate THC's effects.

How to Take CBD and THC?

How to Take CBD and THC

When it comes to cannabis use, there are tons of different ways to ingest THC and CBD products including:

Topicals (including transdermal patches), Edibles, Tinctures or sublinguals (cannabis oil you put under the tongue), Smoking, Dabbing and vaping.

Take care when preparing or consuming THC edibles, as they can have negative effects if the dosage is too high.

You can be more liberal when it comes to CBD, but it's always wise to watch how much you take until you know what the ideal dosage is.

Whether you're using CBD, THC, or a mixture of the two, smoking and vaping have the highest risk factors.

Inhaling smoke or combustible plant material can be hard on the lungs and potentially cause damage.

If you need the immediate effects inhaling cannabinoids provides, Vaporizers are another option, including vape pensdab pens, and more.

Tinctures, too, take effect relatively quickly — around 30 minutes or less for many.

CBD vs THC: Which One is better?

CBD vs THC: Which One is better

CBD and THC are the two main components of the cannabis plant. They are similar in structure but have very different effects.

While THC provides psychoactive effects and potential relief for certain conditions, CBD offers non-psychoactive benefits and broader applications.

Whether you should opt for a CBD or THC-based medicine really depends on your own unique circumstances.

The absence of psychoactive effects makes CBD a reliable and widely available option, particularly if you don't want to experience a high when using your medicine.

On the other hand, if you require medication and you're confident of handling the high, THC might be the better choice for you.

Remember to consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in medical marijuana to ensure safe and effective use.

Additionally, Before purchasing and using CBD or THC for treatment or entertainment, people must ensure that they comply with state laws and workplace policies.