Medical marijuana has been a hot topic for several years, but cannabis has been considered an herbal remedy since ancient times. According to an article published in the journal Addiction, cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs. Chemicals in the plant react with receptors in the body to produce beneficial effects, according to the National Cancer Institute. These chemicals are called cannabinoids. Cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are two of the compounds with which you might be familiar. Both have therapeutic benefits. What is the difference between CBD and THC? Only one of them can make you high.
What Are THC And CBD?
You may wonder, “What are THC and CBD?” Both chemicals come from the marijuana plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol is produced in female marijuana plants that aren’t pollinated. Usually referred to as THC, this is the psychoactive compound that makes people feel high. It can stimulate hunger, make you feel relaxed and alter your senses.
Cannabidiol is the other primary chemical found in marijuana. CBD in cannabis is safe and non-psychotropic. Although it is structurally similar to THC in cannabis, it affects the body’s cannabinoid receptors differently. While CBD can have anti-anxiety effects, it doesn’t modify your senses the way THC does.
Every strain of marijuana has a specific ratio of CBD vs THC. The chemicals work together to provide different effects. Using plants with high THC levels can result in paranoia. CBD in cannabis can counteract that effect.
To understand how this works, you have to know how your body reacts with each chemical. The body has different types of cannabinoid receptors. The THC cannabinoid binds well with CB1 receptors. When it does, it produces feelings of hunger, happiness and relaxation. The CDB cannabinoid doesn’t bind with CB1 receptors. Instead, it interferes with the reaction that’s caused by the interaction of THC and CB1 receptors. CBD essentially keeps the effects of THC in check. Some researchers have even found that CBD can prevent the cognitive impairment that is associated with THC use.
The Endocannabinoid System
Researchers have discovered that marijuana works on the body’s endocannabinoid system. This is a complex organization of receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain and body that communicate with each other to affect many functions in the body. Some experts refer to the endocannabinoid system as a bridge that connects the brain with the body.
Your body produces its own chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system. One of these is anandamide, which is released when you exercise. According to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise releases chemicals that influence this system. That explains why long-distance runners often experience a runner’s high.
CBD and THC both influence the endocannabinoid system. However, THC works by binding directly to specific receptors. CBD operates mainly by affecting other chemicals that react with these receptors.
According to a study published in the Journal of Molecular medicine, CBD is an antioxidant. Because many diseases are caused or exacerbated by oxidative stress, CBD can be an effective treatment for several health conditions. In this study, CBD was found to help prevent intestinal damage associated with oxidative stress in rodents.
CBD is also used to treat epilepsy and bacterial infections. One of the largest studies done on CBD’s effectiveness in treating epilepsy found that children and young adults who took a plant-derived, pure form of CBD experienced a 50-percent reduction in seizures. According to research, CBD can also inhibit pain and inflammation.
CBD can be concentrated into an oil that can be taken in a number of ways. It can be inhaled, consumed or applied topically. High-CBD strains of marijuana can also be smoked to get the beneficial effects of CBD.
According to Westword, THC has been used as a treatment for glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. It can also minimize the side effects of chemotherapy. Because THC can make you hungry, it has been used to counteract nausea and even to treat patients with eating disorders.
CBD vs THC
What is the difference between CBD and THC? Both have medical benefits. However, only THC can make you stoned. This is one of the reasons that some people consider marijuana to be a dangerous drug. Although CBD tends to balance out the effects of THC, you don’t have to take CBD and THC together. You can still get the health benefits of CBD if you use it on its own.