If you’re a cannabis user (or even if you’re not), chances are you’ve heard the terms CBD and THC thrown around quite a bit. Not quite sure what they mean or the differences between these two cannabinoids (or even what a cannabinoid is)? Don’t worry, we got you.
First things first, lets talk cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds produced by cannabis that act on different cannabinoid receptors already found in our bodies. Part of our body’s larger endocannabinoid system, these receptors manage different processes (regulating hormones, appetite, mood, sleep, immune function, memory) to promote homeostasis (your body in balance) as a whole. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC mimic the endocannabinoids already found in our bodies to bind with receptors and produce different effects like appetite stimulation, euphoria, inflammation reduction, and more.
Now lets take a look at the difference between two of the most common cannabinoids.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Primarily used medicinally, this compound won’t actually make you ‘feel high’, but its benefits are powerful and plentiful.
Through both anecdotal and clinical evidence, CBD has gained popularity among users for reduced inflammation, anxiety and stress relief, epilepsy control, nausea relief, and much more.
So why doesn’t CBD give you that ‘high’ feeling so many of us are familiar with? For one, it doesn’t interact directly or ‘bind’ with CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the two cannabinoid receptors heavily influenced by THC. When indirectly interacted with (or ‘modulated’), you can still get some of the ‘bliss’ benefits these receptors produce, but without that intoxicated or ‘high’ feeling. Additionally, when using a strain with both CBD and THC, CBD has been shown to actually reduce and decrease the negative side effects of THC, including anxiety, paranoia, and short term memory impairment, by opposing THC at the CB1 receptor and lessening the effects. Of course, this is most typical when using a 1:1 strain or at the very least, a strain with a significant percentage of CBD to counteract the effects of the THC.
CBD has also been shown to interact with non-cannabinoid neurotransmitters in the brain (opioid, dopamine, serotonin) to assist in reducing anxiety and depression as well as regulating sleep and appetite.
THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis and is likely the one you’re most familiar with, as it produces the ‘high’ or euphoric feeling you get after using cannabis. And while some of its medical properties are still being tested, anecdotal studies have confirmed that many use it for things such as appetite stimulation, insomnia reduction, mood and euphoria stimulation, pain relief, muscle relaxation, nausea reduction, and more. When THC binds with cannabinoid receptors in our brain and nervous system, our body’s endocannabinoid system will start stimulating cognitive and behavioural changes. CB1 receptors that THC binds to are primarily found in the brain, which will in turn change how the brain functions, giving you that ‘high’ feeling.
The effects felt from THC depend on a number of things, including the amount ingested, how you consume (think vaping vs. edibles vs. smoking vs. topicals) and of course, your own body chemistry, as everyone is different. Short term effects may include euphoria, increased appetite (munchies!), drowsiness, increased socialization including talking and laughing, and a reduction in pain and inflammation.
Topicals like lotions, balms, and oils containing THC have also shown to help with muscle relief and relaxation without a significant ‘high feeling’ as the THC isn’t entering your blood stream, but still binding with cannabinoid receptors.
Now, go forth with your new knowledge on cannabinoids and wow your friends! And of course, leave any questions or comments below and we’ll be sure to get back to you.