Over the past few decades, awareness of the benefits of cannabis has increased significantly. While cannabis had been completely illegal for a long time, it was mostly due to a lack of understanding about what it is and how it works. The main concern was being able to alter the state of mind as a psychoactive chemical that makes you high. However, scientific research has helped society to better understand all of the benefits of cannabis, along with some important distinctions.
First, there are different varieties of cannabis. Marijuana is the type of cannabis plant that has the psychoactive components, but there is also hemp, which has no psychoactive elements and is therefore completely safe to use. That’s why, over time, hemp has been made completely legal to produce and consume. Marijuana has also become more accepted, and laws in different locations have been updated over time to either make it legal for medical use, or even for recreational use.
Second, there are several kinds of different chemical compounds that can be found in cannabis plants and its varieties. Two of the most well known are THC and CBD. They are both part of the same family of chemical compounds called cannabinoids, and they both share similar properties but also have some important differences.
If you have heard of either or both of these compounds and want to try them for recreational or medical reasons, it’s important to understand what they are as well as their differences. Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to THC and CBD.
What Is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main chemical compound found in cannabis plants that make you feel high. While it is not the only cannabinoid that is psychoactive, it is the most potent one, and it is what makes up most of the psychoactive element in marijuana. The main reason why marijuana still has more legal restrictions than hemp is because it contains THC, while hemp does not.
THC works by stimulating cells in your brain that controls the release of various hormones, neurotransmitters, and other signals through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your body. That includes dopamine, which can create a sense of euphoria. It also includes various transmitters that make you hallucinate, alter your normal train of thought, and other various components of “getting high”.
THC can be consumed by smoking, vaping, or ingesting marijuana, as well as THC oil that has been extracted and refined from the plant. Traditionally, smoking marijuana joints has been the main way for people to consume it. However, because smoking is a relatively unsafe activity, more people are turning to either vaping it, or ingesting it in the form of delta 8 THC tincture, edibles, to name a few methods, as stated by thehempdoctor.com.
However, THC is not only a compound that makes you high. It also affects your body in several other ways that can be both beneficial, and occasionally detrimental, to your health.
Effects of THC
There are many beneficial effects that THC has to offer. The reason why marijauna and THC has been increasingly legalized across the world is precisely because of the benefits. This includes helping with the following:
- Acute and chronic pain such as glaucoma and arthritis
- Nausea and appetite
- Improve sleep for people who have conditions like insomnia
- Reduce seizure activity in people with epilepsy
There are also some detrimental effects of THC, which can be exacerbated when you take too much of it, when combined with certain kinds of medication, and/or depending on your specific biological response to it. Those effects include:
- Impaired motor function
- Increased anxiety
- Memory loss
- Increased heart rate
It is possible to overdose on THC, though it is far less likely to be lethal than other drugs.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other main compound that is found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, it can be found in both marijuana and hemp. On its own, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, so it will not make you high like THC does. That is why CBD, along with hemp, has been made completely legal in most countries around the world.
It functions in a very similar manner as THC, by interacting with the ECS in your nervous system to alter the production of important hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate various elements of your body. That’s the source for all of the beneficial effects that CBD can have on your health.
Effects of CBD
Because CBD and THC are from the same family of chemical compounds, the effects they each have on humans are very similar. There is some variation for how potent some of the properties are, and some unique benefits that one provides that the other might not. In general, these are the most well-known effects of CBD:
- Reduce pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve sleep
- Treat cancer-related symptoms
- Provide neuroprotective properties
CBD does not have as many detrimental effects as THC does, and it is very difficult to overdose on it because it does not make you high. However, it is possible to experience some adverse side effects, such as diarrhea, change in appetite, and fatigue. CBD can be consumed through the same means as THC. You can smoke hemp, vape CBD oil, or ingest it from things like CBD oil and edibles.
Main Differences Between THC and CBD
Despite being so similar, there are important differences between THC and CBD. If you want to take either or both for health reasons then it is important to understand these differences.
Here are the main differences of THC compared to CBD:
- Stronger pain relief
- Stronger neuroprotective properties
- Stronger nausea reduction and appetite stimulation
Here are the main differences of CBD compared to THC:
- Stronger anti-inflammatory response
- Stronger stress, anxiety, and depression reduction
- Fewer side effects
It is worth noting that it is usually better to take THC and CBD together. They, along with the other cannabinoids, are all found naturally in cannabis plants. They also have what is now known as the entourage effect, which means that when cannabinoids are taken together, their properties are more potent compared to when you take them separately at the same amount. They work together to enhance the benefits that they can each provide.
As long as there are no health or legal reasons for you to avoid THC, it is a good idea to take them together. If you are not sure what the best way to take THC, CBD, or both is for your needs, you can always consult with your doctor. They will also be able to warn you if either would react badly with other medications you are already taking.