Understanding CBD vs THC and how the two compounds differ is key to benefitting from hemp wellness. Though both compounds can exist in hemp, they produce wildly different effects. Today, the scientific community has already presented important research into the benefits and effects of CBD vs THC. Here’s what we know so far.
Where Do CBD and THC Come From?
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two main compounds found in the cannabis plant. They’re both called cannabinoids, which is the term for compounds found in cannabis and hemp.
Both Compounds Are Found in Cannabis
If you’re comparing CBD vs. THC, it’s important to remember that though they exist side-by-side, they produce completely opposite effects. More specifically, cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol are found in cannabis, which is the psychoactive version of hemp, i.e. the type that gives you a ‘high’.
However, CBD actually tampers the high brought on by THC. And THC has its own effects on CBD. Specifically, a little THC (somewhere under 1%) increases the positive effects of CBD but without the high.
They Also Exist in Hemp, Too
Hemp is the federally legal version of cannabis (as of late 2018). Today, hemp is just like any other industrial crop. Aside from being the primary source for cannabidiol, hemp can be used to make clothing, oil, building materials, plastic, and other necessities.
In fact, hemp is one of the oldest crops in human history. Specifically, humans have been farming hemp since approximately 8000 BCE, according to archeological evidence.
But unlike cannabis, hemp only contains a maximum of 0.3% THC. This means that you cannot feel a high from hemp, but you can still enjoy the benefits of cannabidiol.
CBD vs THC: 3 Big Differences
One of the big advantages of CBD is that it’s a natural medical and medicinal compound but doesn’t have the same potent effects as THC. Beyond that, here’s why cannabidiol is surging in popularity.
Cannabidiol Won’t Get You High
It is impossible for CBD to get you high. This is because of the way it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a biological system as important as the digestive, respiratory, and immune systems.
CBD Comes from Hemp
All legal cannabidiol products that you see sold come from hemp, not cannabis. This means that you don’t have to worry about accidentally ingesting unwanted THC.
It’s Legal in all 50 States
For consumers, retailers, and producers, the big difference when it comes to CBD vs THC is that cannabidiol is legal federally. According to the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, hemp is no longer listed with cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.
This means that farmers can grow this versatile, eco-friendly crop, retailers can sell it and consumers can benefit from its effects, all without legal consequences.
CBD Can Reduce Stress, Pain and Anxiety, and Improve Sleep
What is CBD? For many, it’s a way to naturally reduce day-to-day stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Though THC can assist people in coping with these difficulties, cannabidiol does not make you feel high. This makes it a much easier solution for during the day, driving, and other activities that require your full attention.
Aside from its medicinal uses, an impressive number of studies show that cannabidiol has serious medical benefits, including treating epilepsy, pain, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and other life-altering conditions. Major pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals has already released cannabinoid-based drug Sativex for coping with multiple sclerosis.
However, keep in mind that the FDA has not yet issued official guidelines on how to use it.
The Endocannabinoid System: CBD vs THC
Why are the effects of CBD vs THC so distinct? It comes down to the endocannabinoid system: a network of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that controls basic functions including:
Above all, the endocannabinoid’s system’s role is to provide balance in the human body as it adjusts to external influences. This can mean reducing inflammation, pain, improving mood, combatting autoimmune and degenerative conditions and more.
Endocannabinoids: The Body’s Naturally-Occurring Cannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are the same compounds found in cannabis, also known as cannabinoids. In other words, the body already produces compounds that resemble cannabidiol. Why do cannabinoids have an effect on the body? The body already has a network of receptors specifically designed to work with cannabinoids.
How the Endocannabinoid System Works
There are two different kinds of receptors within the human body: CB1 and CB2. Though the scientific community is still working to better understand their roles, we understand that in broad strokes:
- CB1 receptors occur in the brain, intestines and nervous system, primarily.
- CB2 receptors occur in immune cells, T cells, B cells, spleen, and other organs.
Though research is preliminary, we know that CBD triggers the endocannabinoid system, which means that it can restore balance, more broadly, in the body. But because it functions with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors differently than psychoactive THC, people can experience its effects without worrying about impairment.
The Difference Between CBD vs THC Is Molecular
On a molecular level, CBD and THC are almost identical: Each contains 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, cannabidiol is also comprised of a hydroxyl group, which is when a hydrogen atom is bound to an oxygen atom. This small distinction accounts for the differences in the ways that CBD vs THC interact with the human body.
Understanding CBD vs THC
The first step to understanding hemp is knowing that though cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol occur in the same plants, they aren’t the same molecule. And because cannabidiol is found in high concentrations in hemp (which has 0.3% THC maximum), it’s possible to experience its benefits without feeling negative effects.
When you take CBD oil, for example, your benefitting from cannabidiol, not tetrahydrocannabinol.