CBD vs THC: What’s the difference?

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Author: Jason Beverly

“One is regular coffee, while the other is decaf”

Sometimes a lot of amazing benefits can result from the most unusual sources. This is the case when it comes to marijuana. Since some state laws have been lifted, more research has been completed which resulted in a better understanding of the chemical components of cannabis. These medical advancements are responsible for several new treatment options available for a wide variety of conditions.

CBD vs THC: High

The two most exciting components of cannabis for medical purposes are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). CBD and THC are believed to assist in treatments for everything from muscle pains and glaucoma to depression and inflamed bowels. Although both of these chemicals originate from the same plant, their affects on the body are vastly different.

To make this easy, let’s use a simple analogy when comparing CBD vs THC and how they effect people who consume them. We like to think of THC as regular coffee and CBD as decaf. When a person consumes regular coffee, they will experience energy related effects from the caffeine. But when a person consumes decaf coffee, they do not feel energized because the caffeine is removed. Regular coffee and decaf coffee both come from the same plant, but have different effects on the body, just like CBD and THC.

Let’s take a closer look at the effects of CBD and THC. The first component, THC, claims fame for its ability to get people high. It carries the psychoactive chemical compound responsible for a euphoric or mind-altering state, but it also carries what scientists believe to be healing properties for certain conditions. The other component—cannabidiol or CBD—doesn’t affect the brain’s receptors in the same way as THC. It carries all the healing properties minus the high.

CBD vs THC: The Endocannabinoid System

CBD and THC happen to bind with the same natural CBD receptors that already exist in your brain and are collectively called the endocannabinoid system. This system includes neurotransmitters, or chemical agents, that act as messengers to brain cells. In short, it is the mind’s—thus the body’s—motivator.

There are two types of CBD receptors exist in our brains: CB1 and CB2. THC binds with the CB1 receptor to the effect of producing a high. CBD hardly binds to CB1. In fact, it can actually impede THC’s ability to bind to the point of negating THC’s psychoactive influence. This is one of the qualities in CBD responsible for its recent surge in the medical marketplace. A recent NPR report cites one estimate that indicates a doubling of sales in legal CBD over the past two years—to the tune of $200 million.

CBD vs THC: Legality

According to Business Insider, there are 9 states which allow recreational marijuana and 30 states which allow medicinal marijuana. On the other hand, the amount of states where CBD is legal is far greater, but it’s still unclear if it’s legal in all 50 states. CBD can be purchased online and is commonly found in health food stores and smoke shops. Unfortunately, CBD distributers are not held to any standards when extracting and creating CBD products. These poses an issue for consumers who are trying to consume CBD safely.

There are already a wide variety of CBD products available including oils, gummy tablets, extracts, and edibles. What keeps CBD on the shelf in these cases is the absence of abusive or medically harmful effects. According to an overwhelming amount of studies thus far, CBD remains void of any lethal capacity. In addition, the side effects of CBD are far less when compared to other treatment options.

Just like THC, CBD can be ingested in many ways: via droplets, incorporated with your food (think hemp pancakes), vaporized, or as a supplement that looks just like a vitamin capsule. This flexibility increases its appeal to those wanting to find relief from such mental conditions such as anxiety or depression and physical maladies such as Crohn’s or muscle inflammation and pain.

Conversely, you won’t find THC as widely sold online or packaged on the medicine shelf.

CBD vs THC: Future

The road to federal sanction of cannabidiol remains quite long. This is largely due to the DEA’s stance on CBD which classifies CBD extracts as a Schedule 1 drug prone to abuse.

On the contrary to the DEA’s stance, the FDA recently approved the first purified form of CBD for the treatment of seizures. The FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb deemed this progress as “an important medical advance.”

CBD’s future is still bright, according to Dr. Shaun Hussain of UCLA’s medical school who is quoted in a recent Vogue magazine article. Dr. Hussain believes the recent thumbs up from the FDA largely improves the outlook for this marijuana component.

In fact, the FDA advisory panel determined that CBD posed “negligible” chances for abuse in this instance. Hussain stated, “These are kids who don’t go to regular school, graduate from high school, live or work independently, get married,” indicating that these children are now offered a life that was previously unattainable.

The success of CBD for epileptic treaments and its sanction by the FDA could cause this cannabis-derived medicine into a prescription status. Indeed, experts believe the FDA’s nod to CBD for early stage epilepsy may remove CBD from the classification as a Schedule 1 drug.

CBD vs THC: Which one is better?

Comparing CBD and THC has been a popular debate lately and many people ask, “Which one is better?” Our belief is that it’s not a one to one comparison. Each of these chemicals differ greatly when it comes to how they interact with human body. And therefore, their medical uses are also vastly different. The benefits of CBD and THC are still being researched, but we believe both will have multiple medical purposes in the future.

Want to learn more about CBD and THC?

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About Jason Beverly

Jason Beverly is the Digital Marketing Director of The CBD Benefits, an informational website helping people learn about CBD. He's been researching, developing and writing about CBD & other cannabinoids for over 5 years. Jason uses CBD daily to treat for pain, anxiety and depression.

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Jennifer
Jennifer
5 years ago

I had no idea what CBD & THC were before this article. But I like how simple it was explained