What’s the difference between THC and CBD? Many people today find themselves wondering what is the fundamental difference between these two components. However, these two seemingly similar acronyms conceal a world of contrasts, applications, and effects that it is critical to understand in order to make informed choices regarding the use of cannabis products.
Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. In the body, they interact with cannabinoid receptors to help treat or limit the effects of various conditions. Under some circumstances, THC can also have a psychoactive effect.
Cannabinoids refer to substances found in the cannabis plant, or Cannabis sativa. In addition to CBD and THC, researchers have identified more than 100 other cannabinoids that can affect the human body. Potential uses of these cannabinoids may include treating the following issues:
- Loss of appetite and eating disorders
- Spinal cord injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Sleep problems
Although CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system, there are some important differences. In particular, unlike THC, CBD does not have the psychoactive effects that many associate with the typical cannabis high
This article explains more about the differences between CBD and THC.
THC vs CBD: What is the difference between THC and CBD?
Although they are both cannabinoids, CBD and THC interact with slightly different cannabinoid receptors in a person’s brain.
Evidence shows that THC can bind to major cannabinoid receptors because it has a chemical structure similar to that of anandamide. This chemical belongs to a group of cannabinoids that the body produces naturally, known as endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. Because of this structural similarity, THC is able to interact with these receptors and cause the high that is associated with recreational cannabis use.
Unlike THC, CBD does not create the high that is associated with cannabis use. Experts do not know exactly how CBD interacts with receptors, but they believe it binds differently from THC. Instead, CBD might enhance the effects of other cannabinoids or bind to other receptors that researchers have not yet discovered. In some formulations, THC and CBD can be combined to harness the therapeutic benefits of CBD and the psychoactive effects of THC in a controlled manner. These combinations are often used in medicinal therapy.
Where do they come from?
Both CBD and THC occur naturally in cannabis plants. However, different species of these plants may contain different levels of cannabinoids. For example, when a person takes a CBD-dominant version of medical cannabis, they are using CBD from hemp, which is a specific variety of the Cannabis sativa plant.
The main difference between hemp and other cannabis plants is the amount of THC. The Farm Bill 2018 Trusted Source considers hemp to be C. sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC. Other varieties generally contain more THC and less CBD. A 2016 analysis finds that the average potency of cannabis plants increased from about 4 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2014. From 2001 to 2014, average CBD levels decreased from 0.28 percent to less than 0.15 percent. While we have examined the distinctions between THC and CBD, future research will continue to reveal new therapeutic scenarios and impacts, giving us an increasingly clear view of their role in human health. It will be essential to stay informed about evolving discoveries to make informed decisions and support more informed policies on the use of these unique compounds.
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