One of the most asked questions we get is, “What is the difference between CBD and THC?” CBD and THC are both compounds found in the cannabis plant but they have entirely different effects on our bodies. Keep reading as we break down, “What is the difference between CBD and THC?”
If you’re asking, “What is the difference between CBD and THC?” Good! That means you're a thoughtful, curious person who cares about their body and what they put in it!
Let's start with their similarities and then dive into their differences.
CBD and THC are both compounds in the cannabis plant
CBD (short for cannabidiol) and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) are both cannabinoids, or chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Beyond that, CBD and THC are quite different, especially in how they make our bodies feel!
CBD and THC create different effects in our bodies
CBD is a health-promoting compound and creates a balancing effect on the body
whereas THC is intoxicating and creates a “high” sensation. Because of this key difference between CBD and THC, cannabis plants are grown differently to enhance certain levels of each compound, are regulated by different laws, and are being used in different types of products.
What is the Difference between CBD and THC's Effects in our Bodies?
We can begin to answer, "What is the difference between CBD and THC? " when we look at the behavior of both compounds within our body. On a molecular level, CBD and THC are quite similar and interact with the same receptors within our body. However, those interactions create much different effects.
In order to understand how they work within our body, you need to know about our endocannabinoid system. This is a network of cannabinoid receptors throughout our body that helps balance important internal processes such as mood, appetite, pain sensitivity, and more.
THC and CBD both bind to receptors in this system. However, THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain, which creates the marijuana high. CBD on the other hand, binds very weakly to CB1 receptors, and helps to create balance by slowing the break down of a compound called anandamide, and can actually dampen the effects of THC.
What is the Difference between CBD and THC Side Effects?
THC and CBD are considered relatively safe, natural compounds. Based on a 2017 study, the most common side effects associated with CBD seem to be mild, and mainly include fatigue which is why we recommend taking before bed when you first start to use. Other symptoms can include diarrhea and change in appetite. These are pretty minor drawbacks when compared to its potential benefits. Of course, further research needs to be done on humans to fully determine the side effects, as animal and vitro test subjects have their limitations.
THC however, is known to increase anxiety and paranoia for some users. Additionally, it may cause short term effects such as impaired coordination, memory loss and delayed reaction time. Some research even implies a higher risk of long-term psychiatric problems, due to the chronic consumption of THC. More research is needed, however, in order to fully understand the side effects.
What is the Difference between CBD and THC Laws?
Because of the different effects CBD and THC have on the body. They are regulated differently. Although the legal stance on cannabis is moving towards leniency, hemp-derived CBD is making headway while THC-based products are finding more restrictions.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and hemp-derived products are federally legal. CBD oil by extension, is also legal as long as it comes from the hemp plant. Hemp is defined as cannabis with 0.3% THC or less and is no longer a Schedule 1 controlled substance like marijuana, which contains above 0.3% THC.
Although the legalization of recreational marijuana has taken place in states like Alaska, Colorado, California, Nevada and Oregon, with other states allowing it for medical use, it is still a federally controlled substance and therefore illegal.
Learn more about the difference between hemp and marijuana
What is the Difference between CBD and THC's Origins?
CBD and THC both come from the cannabis family of plants. Depending on the intended use of the plant, cannabis is grown to have varied amounts of these compounds.
Hemp is mainly grow for its fiber, seeds, and CBD. Marijuana is mainly grown for THC. If the plant has 0.3% THC or less, it is considered hemp and federally legal. Plants with over 0.3% THC are considered marijuana and are a federal schedule 1 drug. Though closely related, hemp plants are typically identified by their tall, skinny appearance, while marijuana plants are usually short, and bushy.
Learn more about the difference between hemp and marijuana.
What is the Difference between CBD and THC Research?
Some studies have been done on both THC and CBD and while promising, more research is needed. For instance, a 2012 study on rodents revealed CBD’s potential to suppress chronic and inflammatory pain. Quite notably, they were able to provide relief without any increase in tolerance for the compound.
Scientists were also able to link CBD consumption to sustained levels of anandamide; a substance that is said to influence natural pain relief. This research is still in the early stages, and more testing needs to be done on humans to verify the results. The FDA also approved the epileptic drug Epiodolex. This signaled the beginning of a new era, and showed the potential of CBD to be used at a larger scale. Currently, there are no FDA approved THC-based drugs.
What is the Difference between CBD and THC? Let's Recap!
CBD and THC Similarities
- Natural compounds in the cannabis family of plants
- Interact with our body's endocannabinoid system
CBD and THC Differences
- CBD is health promoting, THC is psychoactive
- CBD from hemp is legal federally as long as it contains no more than .3% THC, THC is a federally regulated Schedule 1 Drug
- Hemp is grown to contain more CBD, marijuana is grown to contain more THC
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