Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system but have distinct effects and properties.
Chemical Structures – How They Differ
CBD and THC have the same molecular formula – C21H30O2 – but differ in their atomic arrangement, giving them distinct chemical properties.
THC contains cyclic rings and a cyclic terpene group, making it hydrophobic and highly reactive. This gives THC its intoxicating, psychoactive effects.
CBD has two open rings, making it less reactive and non-intoxicating. It weakly binds to receptors and has little psychoactivity.
Psychoactive Effects of THC vs CBD
THC induces the classic marijuana “high” by strongly binding to CB1 receptors in the brain. This stimulates the release of dopamine, causing euphoria, sensory perception changes, time distortions, and impaired coordination.
CBD does not cause intoxication or alter consciousness. It mildly blocks CB1 receptors and may counteract some effects of THC. CBD helps balance the psychoactivity of THC.
Medical Benefits of CBD and THC
Both CBD and THC have therapeutic properties, but CBD has wider applications due to the lack of psychoactivity:
- Pain relief: CBD and THC activate glycine receptors, reducing inflammation and neuropathic pain.
- Anxiety/stress: CBD boosts serotonin receptor signaling, reducing anxiety. THC may increase anxiety in high doses.
- Sleep: CBD can improve sleep onset and quality. THC may help initially but can disrupt sleep cycles long-term.
- Neuroprotection: CBD is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that protects brain cells.
- Addiction: CBD may help reduce cravings and ease withdrawal. THC can be addictive itself.
- Cancer: CBD restricts cancer cell growth and limits tumor angiogenesis. More research is needed.
Read about the ways in which CBD is used at the link cbd-yurovsky-kirill.co.uk
Legality and Regulations
Laws differentiate CBD and THC based on the source plant and concentration:
- Hemp-derived CBD with <0.3% THC is legal federally but still regulated.
- High-THC marijuana is legal medicinally and recreationally in some states but illegal federally.
- Synthetic THC pharmaceuticals, like dronabinol, can be prescribed for nausea and appetite loss.
Due to CBD’s non-intoxicating effects, it faces fewer legal restrictions compared to marijuana products.
Plant Sources – Hemp vs Marijuana
- Hemp naturally produces higher levels of CBD and low THC, <0.3%. Marijuana has more balanced CBD:THC but often very high THC.
- Hemp is legally defined as cannabis with <0.3% THC. Marijuana has no THC limit.
- CBD-dominant marijuana strains have been bred with lower THC for therapeutic use.
- Most commercial CBD today is extracted from hemp, while THC comes from marijuana.
Methods of Consumption and Dosage
Popular methods of using CBD and THC include:
- Oils and tinctures: Dropped under the tongue for quick absorption. CBD dosed in milligrams.
- Edibles: Ingested orally for longer lasting effects. THC doses vary 5-10 mg.
- Smoking/vaping: Inhaled for fastest effects. Dose by inhalation with THC, few puffs to start.
- Topicals: Creams absorbed through the skin. Used for localized CBD pain relief.
- Capsules: Taken orally like supplements. Allow precise CBD dosing.
Proper dosage varies individually based on tolerance, body chemistry, and delivery method.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
CBD has a high safety profile with few side effects at moderate doses. Potential side effects include diarrhea, changes in appetite, fatigue, and interactions with other medications.
THC side effects may include impaired cognition and coordination, anxiety, sedation, low blood pressure, and rapid heart rate. Long term risks include cannabis use disorder and mental health decline.
Neither CBD nor THC are associated with fatal overdose. However, combining with other sedatives like alcohol increases risks. Those with liver conditions should use caution with oral CBD and THC.
Current Research and Clinical Data
Research into cannabis has been limited historically by legal restrictions, but is accelerating in recent years.
Multiple trials confirm the therapeutic efficacy of CBD for epilepsy, anxiety, and psychosis with a high safety profile. CBD clinical research continues for pain, inflammation, substance abuse, brain injuries, and other conditions.
Clinical trials also demonstrate THC’s effectiveness for pain, nausea, appetite stimulation, and muscle spasms in MS patients. More research is underway on THC and combined CBD/THC formulations.
The Future of CBD and THC
Legal barriers to cannabis research are progressively being dismantled. This will enable more definitive clinical trials on CBD, THC, and cannabis-based medicines.
Advanced extraction techniques are being developed to tailor customized CBD:THC ratios and other cannabinoid combinations for maximal therapeutic effects.
The non-intoxicating properties of CBD present exciting possibilities for treating anxiety, pain, inflammation, seizures, and other conditions without psychoactive side effects. With further research, CBD and THC could offer powerful options in psychiatric and neurological medicine.