CBD vs. THC

Over the last few years, CBD has exploded in popularity. The growth in popularity of CBD has led to a shift in the way people look at cannabis. For many years, cannabis was looked at for its THC content due to its ability to cause intoxicating effects in the consumer.

Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids that are located in the cannabis plant. They both also happen to be the most abundant cannabinoids in the plant. In fact, they actually mirror cannabinoids that are naturally produced in your body. This is what allows CBD and THC to engage with receptors located in your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).  

Though both CBD and THC are cannabinoids and interact with the ECS, their effects actually vary greatly. In this article, we are going to explore their differences so that you can walk away with the knowledge on how to best implement either or both in your life in a beneficial, safe manner.

The Basics of CBD

In this section, we are merely providing you with a brief overview of CBD to help establish a foundation to be able to compare with THC. If you would like to read a more in depth overview of CBD, we recommend reading our article What is CBD?

CBD is an acronym for Cannabidiol. CBD is one of the 100+ chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not cause the consumer to get “high” whenever it is taken. It is the most abundant cannabinoid in the hemp plant. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states so long as the hemp plant contains less than 0.3% THC.

Once extracted from hemp, CBD can be turned into various products such as oils, gummies, capsules, topical creams/lotions, and much more. Regardless of the CBD product form, CBD can come in the form of full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate.

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The Forms of CBD

Full Spectrum CBD: If a CBD extract is full spectrum, this simply means that it contains all of the phytochemicals that occur in the plant naturally. This includes the CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, essential oils, and trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%).

Broad Spectrum CBD: Broad spectrum CBD, like full spectrum CBD, contains all phytochemicals that occur within the plant except for THC. After the initial extraction process is complete, the THC is completely removed.

CBD Isolate: This is simply just the CBD with no additional cannabinoids, terpenes, or anything else from the hemp plant.

CBD is considerably well researched and has been found to provide numerous health benefits. We will touch on these later in the article.

The Basics of THC

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is the main psychoactive cannabinoid. This simply means that when THC is consumed, it will cause intoxicating effects in the user. THC is responsible for the “marijuana high” that causes euphoria, analgesic effects, and stimulation throughout the mind and body.

THC is thought by many to be the only intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis. However, this is not true. What is true, however, is that it is the only cannabinoid that exists in high enough concentrations in nature to cause a user to get high.

This cannabinoid is typically thought by many to only have recreational properties. However, this is also not true. THC is actually well researched for various medicinal applications and is even prescribed for its medical capabilities in many states across the US. We will dive into these benefits in just a bit.

CBD vs. THC - CBD

  • CBD is non-intoxicating and therefore will not get you high.
  • Some CBD effects when consumed include easing of the mind, reduction in anxiety, and the body and minds response to stress. CBD can also cause a reduction in pain and inflammation.
  • CBD works through various molecular pathways in the body, however, it does not bind directly to any of the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
  • CBD signals the body to produce more of its own endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids).
  • CBD can reduce some of the negative psychoactive effects of THC such as paranoia and anxiety.
  • CBD provides numerous health and therapeutic benefits including being able to reduce anxiety.
  • CBD can be derived from either marijuana or hemp plants. CBD derived from hemp is federally legal while CBD derived from marijuana varies on a state by state basis.
  • CBD is safe for animals to consume, including your pets!

CBD vs. THC - THC

  • THC does cause intoxication when it is consumed.
  • When THC is consumed at low to moderate doses, most users report sensory stimulation, elevated mood, improved appetite, a clearer state of mind, and some even experience improved cognition.
  • When THC is consumed in high doses, it can cause feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
  • Unlike CBD, THC does bind directly to cannabinoid receptors in the body.
  • THC is most often thought of as being used as a recreational agent for enjoyment of the high it causes, however, it shows medical promise as well.
  • THC does not exist in hemp in high enough concentrations, therefore it can only be extracted from marijuana.
  • THC is only legal on a country wide basis in Canada and Uruguay
  • 11 states in the US have recreationally legal marijauna as of 2020
  • 33 states in the US have legalized THC for medicinal purposes as of 2020

The Benefits of CBD

CBD possesses many significant therapeutic benefits. These therapeutic benefits have been concluded from extensive scientific research that has been conducted by many parties, including the US Government, as well as anecdotal accounting from physicians, patients, and general consumers.

CBD Benefits

CBD has been shown to aid in helping with several ailment such as, but not limited to:

 

Other CBD Benefits

Additionally, CBD is being extensively studied for its potential neuroprotective effects as well as anti-cancer benefits across several academic research centers in the United States and across the globe.

 

  • In a study conducted in 2010 by California scientists, CBD was found to “enhance the inhibitory effects of THC on human glioblastoma cell proliferation and survival.” This shows the CBD can further potentiate THC’s anti-cancer properties.

 

  • Another 2010 study in Germany found that CBD stimulates neurogenesis or the growth of new brain cells in adult mammals.  

As you can see, the benefits of CBD are far ranging and this explains why it has been anecdotally reported to help with a host of ailments in the mind and body.

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THC Benefits

As mentioned earlier, while THC is most known for its recreational uses, research is showing how it also has medicinal and therapeutic properties. Researchers are studying THC to see its potential applications to help fight against Alzheimer's Disease. THC also contains some neuroprotective properties and these are most often associated with various mental health applications.


THC acts as a natural painkiller for many users and serves as a solid replacement for the more harmful and abusable prescription painkillers on the market. In lower doses, THC can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, in higher doses, THC can greatly increase anxiety and paranoia in consumers. THC is used to help individuals who suffer from insomnia find relief and establish a normal sleep cycle.

The Side Effects: CBD vs. THC

CBD is generally well tolerated by all individuals, regardless of how high or low the dose is. In fact, research suggests that most side effects experienced from CBD is due to CBD’s interaction with other medications users are taking. On the other hand, the side effects of THC are generally much more noticeable and can vary among individuals.

CBD side effects

  • Fatigue
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness

 

THC Side Effects

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduction in coordination
  • Slower reaction time
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety

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