October 19, 2018
Many people are aware of THC and its effects on the human mind and body, particularly when consumed as marijuana. As CBD has come more into the spotlight, many people are associating CBD with the same effects as THC. While THC and CBD are similar, there are some significant differences that are important to understand.
Before we can discuss the differences between THC and CBD, we need to first understand what they are. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD stands for cannabidiol. Both of these chemical compounds are two of the most popular cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While there are over 100 other cannabinoids in cannabis, they occur in such small amounts that they really don’t have much of an effect.
The main difference between CBD and THC is how they interact with the body. Our bodies naturally produce their own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids, which move and interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In your endocannabinoid system, there are two main cannabinoid receptors: the CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor.
When consumed, THC molecules bind directly to your CB1 receptors, which are concentrated mostly in the brain. By binding to the receptors, THC activates the receptor, which stimulates the mind and body. This ultimately creates the famous mild-altering and “high” effects of marijuana.
CBD, on the other hand, does not bind directly to your body’s cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it influences your receptors indirectly through a process called modulation (the fluctuation of cells based on changes in their environment). We will get more into how CBD interacts with your body in part five of this series.
*Photo Credit: https://www.leafscience.com/2017/11/22/thc-cbd-difference/
Because CBD does not directly bind to or activate your cannabinoid receptors, it does not cause any kind of “high” effect, unlike THC. Rather, CBD helps regulate the amount of endocannabinoids that your body naturally produces while also facilitating many health benefits, more of which we’ll discuss below and in part seven of this series.
In short, THC binds directly to your cannabinoid receptors, which overstimulates the mind and creates the “high” effect. CBD does not bind to your receptors and thus cannot change your state of mind.
Another main difference between THC and CBD is the health benefits they provide. While both cannabinoids are known to relieve pain and have multiple therapeutic benefits, there are also some major differences in how THC and CBD affect the body.
THC, especially when consumed as marijuana, is known to have a relaxing and euphoric effect. Consumers often experience heightened senses, a feeling of having no cares or worries, and muscle relaxation. This is all a result of the THC binding directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain and altering your state of mind.
CBD does not alter your state of mind, although it can help reduce feelings of anxiety. It also has a host of health benefits that affect more of your physical well-being. According to LeafScience, such benefits include protecting against seizures and convulsions, assisting with cancer prevention, and preventing inflammation. We will go more in depth on CBD’s health benefits in part seven of this series.
Even though THC and CBD are fairly similar, the important things to remember is that they really are quite different, and the most significant difference is that CBD will not alter your mental state or make you “high” like THC will. That means you can get all of the health benefits of cannabis without any negative side effects.
What to expect in part three: what is the difference between hemp, cannabis, and marijuana?
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Missed Part One? Check it out here!
“Cannabis Company Aims to Reproduce Rare Cannabinoids Using DNA.” CBD Health and Wellness. September 2018. https://cbdhealthandwellness.net/2018/09/05/cannabis-company-aims-to-reproduce-rare-cannabinoids-using-dna/
“THC vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?” LeafScience. November 22, 2017. https://www.leafscience.com/2017/11/22/thc-cbd-difference/
“The Brain Loves CBD: What are the Effects of This Major Cannabinoid?” CBD Health and Wellness. September 2018. https://cbdhealthandwellness.net/2018/09/04/the-brain-loves-cbd-what-are-the-effects-of-this-major-cannabinoid/