Cannabis products have become a trending topic, focusing on its most common chemical compounds, THC vs CBD. While the plant has over 113 chemical compounds, the debate on CBD vs. THC is always dominant. Firstly, this is because the percentage of these compounds in a cannabis plant determines whether it is classified as hemp or marijuana. Secondly, CBD and THC are popular for their unique chemical properties and potential health benefits.
THC & CBD: The Popular Cannabinoids
Comparisons on CBD vs. THC often begin with the simple question; what are these chemical compounds? Well, scientists categorize these two compounds as cannabinoids.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that interact with receptors in the human body to cause physiological effects. This is because humans, similar to other vertebrates, produce endocannabinoids, which are the neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors. In turn, they affect the body and impact pain, appetite, sleep, and mood, among other functions.
Evaluating the Differences Between CBD vs. THC
While CBD and THC are the prominent cannabinoids in cannabis, they differ in how they interact with our bodies. The difference arises from the distinct chemical structures of these compounds. As a result, the CBD vs. THC effects is bound with how the body receives these compounds.
Another significant difference is in how prominent these compounds are in hemp and marijuana. According to the FDA, cannabis gets classified as marijuana when it has a high THC amount (between 5 to 35%). On the other hand, it is classified as hemp when it has a low THC amount (less than 0.3%) and higher CBD content.
A Look Into the Chemical Structures of CBD vs. THC
Amazingly, both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure. Their structure consists of
30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, the CBD vs. THC difference arises in how these atoms are arranged. These different atom arrangements make all the difference as it determines how each compound interacts with our endocannabinoid system.
Are CBD and THC Psychoactive?
At the mention of cannabis, everyone instantly thinks about its psychoactive properties. But, when it comes to evaluating CBD high vs. THC high, there is a big difference in how these compounds function. The primary difference is that while these cannabinoids can be described as psychoactive, CBD does not provide the high feeling associated with THC.
This all comes down to how these compounds interact and bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. On the one hand, THC strongly binds with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors, thus intoxicating the user. On the other hand, CBD binds very weakly to these receptors and does not provide a high sensation.
It is for this reason why CBD is considered to be a ‘non-psychoactive compound. At the same time, THC is categorized as a psychoactive compound. Nevertheless, since CBD is very weak in binding to cannabinoid receptors, it requires small THC amounts to function in our bodies.
What are the Medical Benefits of CBD vs. THC?
Despite the different psychoactive properties that define the THC vs CBD effects, both compounds have great potential medical benefits. There are a lot of ongoing studies and research on how these compounds can increasingly be used medicinally. Already, a significant milestone has been achieved as Epidiolex, a purified CBD product was approved by the FDA in June 2018. This makes it the first cannabinoid product that is acceptable for treating a rare form of epilepsy.
Note: Epidiolex is strictly to be administered by a certified physician and is not approved to treat any other conditions.
Medical Benefits of CBD
The potentials of using CBD medically are enormous as it can be used to help with several conditions, such as:
- Arthritis or inflammation disorders
- Anxiety and depression
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Medical Benefits of THC
Equally, THC can be used to help with several conditions, and these include:
Are There Any Side Effects When Using CBD and THC?
An evaluation of THC vs CBD use shows that these cannabinoids have some side effects that cannot be ignored. According to research, our bodies will easily tolerate CBD even in high quality, but side effects can still occur. This is mainly due to drug interactions that occur when you take other medications while using CBD products. The side effects may include:
- Weight loss
- Changes in appetite
The Use of THC Can Also Cause Temporary Side Effects, and these include:
- Problems with concentration
- Memory loss
- Lack of balance or proper body coordination
- Dried mouth and reddish eyes
- Increased heart rate
Are CBD and THC Legal?
In the battle between THC vs CBD, many people consider CBD legal, given that it is a ‘non-psychoactive ‘compound. But does this make it officially legal? At federal levels, hemp-derived CBD products with low THC levels (less than 0.3%) are considered legal. Nonetheless, state laws dictate the terms of the sale and use of these CBD products, and it is crucial to factor in these legal guidelines.
When it comes to THC, marijuana-derived products are considered illegal at federal levels. Under some state laws, you can use these products legally for either recreational or medicinal purposes. Since these laws are ever-changing, the thumb’s rule is to always check your state laws before buying CBD or THC products.
It is no secret that cannabis products are currently trending in many circles. This is due to the two main natural compounds in the plant; CBD and THC. These cannabinoids have been the center of focus as they hold so much promise, medicinally. As more people become open to consuming cannabis-derived products that contain these compounds, it is critical to understand their full potentials. At the very basic, an overview of THC vs CBD shows that their most significant difference lies in their psychoactive properties. But, this does not undermine their potential health benefits given how they interact with our endocannabinoid system. The good news is that with the ever-increasing research on these compounds, we can expect more breakthrough discoveries.