If you’re new to cannabis and hemp products, then you’re probably curious about the differences between CBD and THC. Let’s check them out and find out what they’re all about!
CBD products are becoming increasingly popular around the world, but if you’re not familiar with CBD, THC, hemp, and marijuana, you’re probably pretty confused about the whole thing. We don’t blame you. For the last fifty years, all we’ve heard about marijuana is that it’s the ‘devil’s weed’ and smoking it can cause any number of psychological problems.
Let’s take a look at what CBD is and what the difference between CBD and THC is and where they both come from!
What is cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two most abundant cannabinoids found in both the hemp and marijuana plants. CBD is non-psychotropic. What does this mean? It means that CBD has no psychoactive components and won’t leave you feeling ‘high’ like marijuana that’s high in THC would. While CBD won’t get you high, it does affect the brain. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence from people that have used CBD that claim to have experienced medical benefits from using CBD products.
However, the medical studies into CBD are still not conclusive, and more research is required especially clinical trials on humans.
Both CBD and THC are found in hemp and marijuana plants. Both plants belong to the cannabis sativa plant family. Most CBD products are sourced from industrial hemp plants because they are high in CBD and low in THC. Marijuana plants are much higher in THC, but also have high levels of CBD. Inside all of us is something known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is made up of a series of receptors and spread throughout the central and nervous systems. It’s believed that the ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (balance and harmony) throughout our bodies.
What is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is psychotropic and responsible for the stereotypical high that many people experience when they use marijuana products. Whenever you see someone smoking marijuana recreationally, it’s usually because of the high THC content of the marijuana flower.
Most marijuana flower that is sold on the streets averages about 5-10% THC. Marijuana that you buy from a dispensary average about 15-20% but can get as high as 30%, which is extremely strong.
How do THC and CBD affect the brain?
THC fits perfectly with the CB1 receptor, but CBD doesn’t quite fit in as well as its friend THC. CBD can block the CB1 receptor so that THC doesn’t fit in as well. This means that CBD prevents you from getting as high as you usually would and reduces some of the negative side-effects associated with high-THC strains of marijuana such as nausea, paranoia, and anxiety. When THC binds with the CB1 receptor in the ECS, neurotransmitters then send signals to our brains that impact our nervous system, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex.
In doing this, it activates the reward center in the brain and triggers the release of dopamine. That’s why you get a pleasurable feeling whenever you use marijuana products that are high in THC. CBD helps to increase levels of naturally occurring endocannabinoids such as anandamide. Anandamide is used by our body to regulate dopamine and serotonin. It’s this reaction that is causing so much excitement about the use of CBD to help with mental health conditions.
Do CBD and THC cause impairment?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC relaxes the nervous system and affects the different parts of the brain responsible for controlling how we focus and create new memories. It’s this reaction that causes people to feel tired, drowsy, and lazy after they consume excessive amounts of THC. High levels of THC and lower than usual concentration levels could make it harder to focus on tasks such as driving that require a lot of attention.
On the flip side, CBD doesn’t cause any impairment in the brain. The Indian Journal of Psychiatry reported in a study on CBD in 2011 that cannabidiol (CBD) held no effect on either spatial reasoning or short-term memory.
As we see the laws on marijuana continue to be relaxed, we’ll begin to see more medical studies into the potential health benefits of these two naturally occurring cannabinoids. While both CBD and THC hold a lot of potential, more reviews and clinical trials are required before we can form conclusive results.