It doesn’t matter who you ask these days – everyone from your grandma to your amazon delivery driver – everyone has an opinion about CBD and THC. It’s a hot topic for so many reasons. Some think both should be regulated more heavily, while others believe the legalization of CBD and THC should happen in all forms. So what are these compounds anyway? Where do they come from? And, what’s useful for treating what? Let’s dive into these and other relevant topics so you can share your opinion with confidence.
What’s the difference between CBD and THC, anyway?
Before we talk about the differences between these two chemicals, let’s cover some similarities. Both are natural components derived from the same plant, most commonly known as cannabis (technically, the name is the Cannabis sativa L plant.). As you likely know, the cannabis plant has been cultivated for thousands of years for various uses – ranging from therapeutic and spiritual to recreational and industrial.
Another prominent similarity between these components is that CBD and THC are two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
What are cannabinoids? Cannabinoids are natural compounds found in cannabis plants – there are 66 noted cannabinoids in total. Two of the most well-known cannabinoids are, you guessed it, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)!
Breaking down their characteristics
What’s so magical about cannabinoids? Cannabinoids – including CBD and THC – are essential in the ways they interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is one of the most critical systems because it plays a role in regulating many of our body’s processes, such as:
- Immune system
- And more
These chemical compounds influence us by interacting with cannabinoid receptors located on cells’ surfaces throughout our central nervous system. What are the receptors called? There are several, but CB1 and CB2 are the most important in the cannabinoids discussion.
You start to see notable differences between CBD and THC in the cannabis plant that produces higher concentrations of each.
CBD comes primarily from the hemp plant, a cousin, or a variety of the Cannabis sativa L plant. While hemp AND cannabis plants produce CBD, hemp has much higher CBD concentrations. Cannabis, on the other hand, has much higher concentrations of THC.
What do we know about THC?
THC is most well-known for producing the psychoactive sensation or ‘high feeling’ people experience from smoking or ingesting it. Many patients describe the therapeutic effects of THC. However, in many states, it is still illegal. According to scientists, THC affects things like thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, concentration, and our senses.
What is THC useful for, and what forms are popular?
Although research is still ongoing, many believe THC and cannabis can help relieve pain. Studies also show that THC may also help patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and it may help relieve painful cancer treatment-related symptoms, such as vomiting from chemotherapy. While there is only one THC-based product approved by the FDA (Marinol), many believe there are several health applications of THC and cannabis. What are those noted benefits? Treating PTSD and sleep disorders and reducing nerve pain, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, glaucoma, and general discomfort.
Marijuana products have THC in varying concentrations, at anywhere from 5% or higher. Popular forms of marijuana and THC products include dried flowers of the cannabis plant, edibles like gummies, or THC in the form of tinctures or topicals, including lotions and balms anti-inflammation.
What do we know about CBD?
Scientists and individuals alike point to several health benefits associated with taking CBD oil. Because CBD also connects and influences our body’s cannabinoid receptors, it helps our ECS function at an optimal level. CBD’s non-psychoactive properties make it ideal for therapeutic use. For these reasons and many others, many people report positive results from using CBD. While ‘CBD’ gets the most attention, it’s just one of the subclasses of cannabinoids. What are other popular subclasses?
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
What is CBD good for, and what forms are popular?
As CBD influences our receptors, it may help reduce overall inflammation in the body, which is the root cause of many health issues. People report that CBD helps with complex problems like arthritis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and even easing some cancer treatment pain. There’s also strong evidence to support CBD’s effectiveness in treating Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which affect children. Others use it to treat everyday issues like sleep, muscle aches, pain, anxiety, and memory. There are many ways to take CBD. CBD is available in capsules, oil tinctures, edibles, or in the form of lotions or salves
Stay in the know
While CBD and THC come from the same cannabis plant, each compound has distinct properties. THC is associated with psychoactive effects- including the high feeling – while CBD is more well known for its potential therapeutic health benefits, including improving the function of our body’s endocannabinoid system and keeping the body in optimal biological balance. While there’s still a lot to learn, it’s clear there are many exciting possibilities and potential benefits with both natural compounds. Keep an open mind and talk with your doctor about how these plant-based properties might fit into your healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.