As time goes on, the legal use of hemp and other cannabis products is on the rise. Consumers are getting more curious about their options, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are the two most famous natural chemical compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus.
But lack of enough research and error-free information may shake their intentions a lot. That’s why our efforts aim to provide essential and distinctive explanations about THC vs. CBD and its effects on anxiety, cancer, and pain. Also, learn their relationship, chemical structure, sources, functions with brain and body, health benefits, safety, side effects, and drug testing.
What is CBD?
CBD is the acronym for cannabidiol, which is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid synthesized by cannabis plants. CBD is the second most prevalent chemical compound or cannabinoid existing in cannabis. First discovered in 1940 by Roger Adams- an American organic chemist, CBD has recently become more popular as a natural treatment for many different conditions.
It can be extracted from hemp or marijuana. Hemp-extracted CBD may contain trace amounts of THC. But CBD from marijuana may contain more concentration of THC. Hemp or marijuana- whichever the source, the lawful CBD lacks psychoactive properties.
The lack of psychoactive properties means that CBD won’t cause you high. However, if you have decided to take hemp-derived CBD oil, you shouldn’t worry about getting high because these products contain only 0 to 0.3% THC. CBD has plenty of therapeutic properties. So, when you hear people talking about CBD, they usually praise CBD for health and wellness rather than recreational use.
What is THC?
THC is the short form of the most famous natural chemical compound- tetrahydrocannabinol, found in Cannabis Sativa plants, especially in marijuana. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary psychoactive chemical element in cannabis.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) discloses that THC activates the brain’s reward system by signaling the release of the brain’s chemical dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter playing a vital role in mood and pleasure. By releasing higher-than-normal dopamine, THC causes people to experience feelings of euphoria.
THC is usually ingested by smoking marijuana. But it can also be available as an ingredient in capsules, edibles, and oils. It also contains analgesic, appetite-inspiring, and sedating properties. While THC isn’t the only cannabinoid capable of causing intoxication, it’s the only one that can produce a high. That’s why THC has long been involved in recreational use.
Do CBD Products Contain THC?
CBD and THC are the two most prominent cannabinoids found naturally within the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is best known as the “high” inducing or psychotropic catalyst in marijuana strains. In contrast, cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychotropic. This psychoactive effect is one of the principal differential CBD vs. THC effects.
If you ask- do CBD products contain THC? The clear-cut answer is yes. CBD products have no psychoactive effects, but they may contain trace amounts of THC, up to 0.3 percent. Although such an almost negligible amount would never be enough to cause any psychoactive effects, it is still probable to appear on a drug test. It will vary depending on the CBD types-
The Relationship Between CBD and THC
When comparing CBD vs. THC, most people are curious about the benefits of each compound and how they act against one another. But there is a relationship between CBD and THC. Both CBD and THC are parts of cannabis and have effects of their own and when combined.
- CBD is usually extracted from hemp or cannabis, both of which come from the Cannabis sativa plant. Legal hemp can not contain more than 0.3% THC anyhow. CBD is sold as gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.
- CBD is typically used for pain control in chronic pain patients. It also helps epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, MS, cancer, and many others.
- THC is known as the leading psychoactive compound in cannabis that can produce a high sensation. You can consume it by smoking cannabis or get it in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more.
Both these natural chemical compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system but have very different effects. Both these substances need heat to complete their potential. For this, smoking is more effective than a simple brewed tea. The hot water is usually not enough to release the drug.
Recently, consumers are showing more interest in the differences between CBD vs. THC. A large group of users combine these two molecules and maximize the effects of their cannabis extracts.
By doing so, they may achieve the best results of –
- CBD vs. THC for anxiety
- CBD vs. THC for cancer
- CBD vs. THC for pain relief
Difference Between CBD vs. THC
CBD vs. THC is a hot topic today. Both CBD and THC are natural chemical compounds derived from the same plant– Cannabis Sativa. So the question is- what is the difference between CBD and THC? To summarize the differences between CBD vs. THC, in brief, is difficult.
But here are the most vivid ones:
Although THC and CBD share similarities in many perspectives, there are some critical differences between the two chemicals.
- Psychoactive (produces a high)
- Sourced from marijuana
- Non-psychoactive (does not produce a high)
- Typically sourced from hemp
To learn more differences between CBD and THC, go through the following points:
CBD vs. THC- Chemical Structure
Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms (C21H30O2). The significant difference is in the chemical arrangements. They don’t have the same chemical arrangements, and for being differently arranged, the body receives them as different compounds. A slight difference in the atomic arrangements accounts for the differing effects on your body.
CBD vs. THC Structure
Both cannabis and hemp can give CBD and THC. Cannabis has a higher portion of THC, while hemp has a higher amount of CBD. Since both CBD and THC are chemically similar to the body’s endocannabinoids, they allow these natural cannabinoids- CBD and THC to interact with the cannabinoid receptors.
These compounds get attached to neurotransmitters in the brain to affect mood, pain, sleep, and memory. Their interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. The prevailing chemicals in the brain- Neurotransmitters relay messages between nerve cells in the body. They have considerable roles in many functions, including sleep, stress, pain, appetite, mood, and the immune system.
CBD vs. THC- How They Work
CBD and THC both work to impact different parts of our health through the vast endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS functions throughout the body to help maintain “homeostasis,” a stable physiological state. For this, CBD and THC relate to the balancing effects of CBD vs. THC.
CBD vs. THC Effects
CBD doesn’t get attached effectively like THC to the endocannabinoid system that regulates sleep, appetite, and immune system. It means that only the binding action of THC is responsible for giving you ‘high.’ THC commences a psychological response via the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors (CB1), prevailing mainly in the central nervous system and the brain. When the CB1 receptor is activated, it creates a psychoactive effect.
Research suggests that when CBD is taken with THC, it can decrease the psychotropic effects of THC by suppressing the CB1-activating qualities and thereby protects the consumer from getting too high.
CBD vs. THC- Sources
Although CBD gets yielded from both hemp and marijuana, it is typically extracted from hemp to avoid the addition of unwanted amounts of THC. On the other hand, THC is often extracted from marijuana. CBD derived from marijuana may contain more THC. This CBD may not be ideal for people trying to avoid THC.
Some CBD products produced from cannabis may contain more THC than the label suggests. So before using or buying CBD products, you should ensure the purity of the products.
CBD vs. THC- How They Affect the Brain
Although THC has many medical benefits, it can affect body and brain development and functionality. Most users of cannabis consider the THC-created “high” as a pleasure, providing a relaxed state of mind, alleviated physical tension, bouts of euphoria, giggliness, and even signs of improved cognition.
When THC gets released into your blood and swims quickly upstream, it reaches your brain in a matter of seconds affecting brain cell receptors responsible for everyday functionality. THC then follows the body’s natural cannabinoid and gets itself attached to the cannabinoid receptors.
Moderate dosages of THC are well-tolerated by humans, which can effectively reduce stress and anxiety. But high doses of THC can worsen these feelings in sensitive users. Once THC is firmly attached, it takes on anandamide’s role, encouraging the brain cells to release more dopamine. It happens when THC over-activates the receptors in the brain. Consequently, there is a euphoric high that makes users feel giddy, sleepy, or even productive.
There also may be some sensory side effects-
- Fragmentary thoughts
Other side effects of THC intake include-
- Heightened senses
- Impaired memory and thinking
- Changes in mood
- Slowed judgment
- Difficulty problem-solving
- Cardiac complications
On the contrary, CBD doesn’t get you high, and the extent of emotional effects makes use of a less direct mechanism. CBD can enhance your response to daily stressors, making it easier to manage situations well. CBD can reduce the strong reaction of THC by binding to the areas of the CB1 receptors to which THC tries to bind. Consequently, many people mix marijuana with CBD hemp flower to diminish the intoxicating effects of THC.
Using the word “intoxicating” instead of “psychoactive” will better describe the differences between CBD vs. THC because Intoxication indicates an altered state of mind, exactly what happens just after THC enters your body.
CBD vs. THC- How They Affect the Body
The natural chemical CBD performs interactions with your body through the ECS. It takes part in essential functions like appetite, sleep, movement, memory, and soothing pain and inflammation. They can alleviate inflammation, remove physical discomfort, accelerate regeneration processes, and develop your resilience to stress. Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes form the ECS.
CBD then makes interactions with the ECS to reset your body. CBD vitalizes or stimulates the ECS receptors allowing the body to create its cannabinoids. CBD also slows down the enzyme FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) to destroy AEA (anandamide) in the ECS. It allows therapeutic effects to survive. The cannabinoid receptors, found throughout the whole body, act as a lock and key to combine with endocannabinoids.
While interacting with these receptors, the endocannabinoids cause to alter the release of neurotransmitters to make communications between nerve cells. The ECS uses endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors continuously to make required adjustments to keep multiple functions balanced.
There exist two subtypes of cannabinoid receptors identified in our body- CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor mainly appears in the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) and takes part in regulating functions like:
- Pain perception
On the contrary, the effects of THC largely depend on the cannabinoids account of the product and its terpene content and ratios. Some marijuana yields more cerebral effects, while others ensure more of a physical high. You can use either type if you want the reduced or increased therapeutic effects of CBD without getting too high from your cannabis.
CBD vs. THC- Health Benefits
Both CBD and THC can offer many of the same medical benefits. They can come up with relief from several of the same conditions. So, to find out their contrasting health benefits, it’s essential to find some CBD vs. THC effects- such as CBD vs. THC for anxiety, CBD vs. THC for cancer, CBD vs. THC for pain, and some more.
CBD doesn’t show the euphoric effects that come from THC. Some people may prefer to use CBD because of not having or the lack of this side effect. In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first prescription medication having CBD. People use it to treat rare, difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy though Epidiolex is not currently approved for any other conditions.
CBD oil or other CBD products can provide many health benefits. CBD connects to your body’s cannabinoid receptors and helps with such complex problems-
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cancer treatment
Others make use of them to treat more mild everyday issues-
- Skin health
- Brain health
- Bacterial growth
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Bone density loss
- Eating disorders
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic stress
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle spasticity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seizures and convulsions
- Tumor growth
On the other hand, THC is used to help with the following:
- Chronic stress
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle spasticity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seizures and convulsions
- Tumor growth
CBD vs. THC- Safety and Side Effects
CBD or THC, none of them can lead to a lethal overdose as they don’t interact with the brain stem area regulating respiratory functions. The use of CBD is safe and well-tolerated, even in large doses. The side effects of CBD are almost nonexistent if taken in regular doses. Research exposes that any side effects occurring with CBD use are likely the result of interactions between CBD and other medications you take.
Some people may have experienced some side effects while using CBD-
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Changes in appetite
- Upset stomach
- Low blood pressure
THC’s side effects include short-term memory impairment, confusion, dizziness, and mental discomforts like feelings of anxiety and paranoid thinking patterns. THC is also probable to lead to a vast appetite boost.
However, THC can cause temporary side effects, such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Coordination problems
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Slower reaction times
- Memory loss
- Problems with concentration
CBD vs. THC- Legal Status
The legal status of CBD vs. THC is complicated. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states as it meets the conditions given by the 2018 Farm Bill. These CBD products contain 0 to 0.3% THC, and so they won’t get you high.
CBD products are legal as long as they contain 0.3% of THC or less. You can get hemp-derived CBD products all over the U.S., everywhere from pharmacies to specialty stores, vape shops, and wellness centers. The laws around THC and marijuana are stringent in most countries of the world. Canada and Uruguay are the only countries that have legalized marijuana in the entire spectrum.
The United States has a long love-hate history with marijuana. Since the prohibition in 1937, only 16 states have made recreational marijuana legal, and 48 states have some medical marijuana programs for patients only. Still, marijuana is under a Schedule-I controlled substance according to federal law.
CBD vs. THC- Drug Testing
Since the cannabinoids like CBD and THC are stored in the body’s fat, they can show up on drug tests for several days or weeks after ingesting them. THC is the principal psychoactive substance in marijuana. THC can be traced out on most standard drug tests. Though CBD is probable to show up on a drug test, many tests are not designed to look for cannabidiol.
Though every drug test is not able to detect CBD, some CBD-sensitive tests are available out there. Most standard tests look for the chemicals related to THC. So THC or marijuana have high chances to show up on these drug test screenings.
Only CBD won’t show up on a drug test because most tests are interested in detecting intoxicating substances, including THC. More precisely, drug tests look for the metabolite of THC that is known as THC-COOH. The detection orbit for this byproduct has been set at 50 ng/mL, although some tests can produce positive results if the 20 ng threshold is broken.
If you want to make sure not to fail a drug test after taking full-spectrum CBD oil, search for a Certificate of Analysis listing the product’s potency, THC content, and results for purity. If you intend a THC-free product, Broad-spectrum CBD oils and isolates are an excellent alternative.
If you use a lab-tested full-spectrum CBD oil, you won’t have to get a false-positive result for THC on a drug test unless you take around 1900 mg of CBD daily.
CBD vs. THC- Ways to Take Each
You can consume THC vs. CBD in several different forms. You may consume THC as marijuana by smoking. But some other cannabis products with THC are also available, including:\
- Vape products
- Edibles including gummies and chocolates
- Beverages containing marijuana oil
There are also many ways to take CBD. You can easily benefit from CBD capsules, oil or tinctures, edibles, or you can find it in cream form. Now CBD oils can be formulated for vaping, although there are some recent concerns about the health dangers created by vaping.
CBD oils can also be added to lotions and salves to use on the skin. You can also take CBD orally as a-
The edible CBD products are also popular and include-
Which One You Should Take?
Your choice of the product will depend mainly on the effects that you want to obtain. If you intend to relieve stress or sleep better, for instance, you should go for CBD because CBD may provide your desired benefits without any side effects associated with THC. THC might be a better choice to treat conditions like poor appetite or tremors- or any other conditions the substance evidently benefits.
Taking CBD together with THC is also seen to help alleviate some of the unexpected effects that THC may yield. For example, people who use cannabis, particularly those with high THC levels, may face a greater risk of experiencing psychiatric symptoms such as paranoia, anxiety, and psychosis. On the other hand, studies have proved CBD to help against these symptoms.
Both THC and CBD may also act for a negative effect on some health conditions or may interact with certain medications. So caution is a prerequisite before taking these products. These substances may impact or affect how your body metabolizes the medications. They can also increase your feelings of anxiety in some cases.
Before choosing a THC or CBD product, you want to check state laws to ensure that these products are legal where you consume them. Even though Federal law approves hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC, those trace amounts are still illegal in some states.
CBD and THC are produced from the same cannabis plant. But these two compounds have some different properties that separate them from one another. THC is full of high feeling or psychoactive effects. But CBD is better known for its soothing properties and many health benefits.
Before using any of them, be sure to check or consult with your doctor and consider how these may or may not affect other medications you are already on.
Carlos B. graduated from Oxford in 2014 after pursuing biological sciences, and his passion has been so much about health and lifestyle. He later quits his career as a health consultant to focus on writing. His love for hemp and endless possibilities, including the practical medicinal functions in making CBD is among the reasons he now writes about it. Carlos is an informative writer that delivers timely content about hemp, its uses, and its potentials of hemp. He enjoys his leisure time visiting the people suffering neurological conditions and advises them on the best practices that can change their lives.