THC vs. CBD: The Differences and Uses
I’m sure you’ve heard the terms THC and CBD countless times, but are you aware they are quite different, and in many ways, quite the opposite of each other? Here are some basics of both, starting with how they affect our bodies, their full names, and detail about their uses and efficacy. You’ll find that “vs.” should be “and” since they are just two of the dozens of compounds found in cannabis.
CBD and THC’s Effects on the Body
Our body’s signaling system, better known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), is quite complex and helps maintain our physiological processes’ internal balance. ECS wasn’t discovered until 1990, and its’ importance is only beginning to be understood. To keep this from being too sciency, when the ECS becomes imbalanced too long, disease can occur. This can include something as simple as a bad headache to migraines, and conditions like arthritis, epilepsy, strokes, cancer, and glaucoma.
When this system has THC or CBD are introduced, they change the ECS activity and production of the body’s natural endocannabinoids. This change in activity can help relieve or reduce the symptoms of the disease in the body. THC stimulates receptors that usually cause people to experience euphoria or, for some, anxiety and paranoia. When it comes to CBD, it encourages endocannabinoids’ production and affects other systems in the body, including those related to opioid, dopamine, and serotonin.
Tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC
Generally speaking, if you’re looking to get high on cannabis, THC is what you want. While it is known for creating euphoria, it can develop a sense of anxiety or paranoia. THC’s other common side effects include an increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, memory loss, slower reaction times, and a lack of coordination. While it is primarily smoked, many products are also available, like edibles, oils, and capsules.
THC has several medical benefits from relieving nausea, increasing appetite, minimizing insomnia, and relieving pain. Several studies show benefits from increased appetite and weight gain (in cases of anorexia and Alzheimer’s) and improved symptoms in incapacitating conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, chemotherapy treatment, menstrual, and chronic bowel inflammation.
Cannabidiol aka CBD
Carefully extracted from plants, cannabidiol is the non-intoxicating compound that comes from cannabis and hemp. It is then combined with oil(s), gels, or supplements or used as an additive to food products (typically gummies). Quality CBD products will always be certified with the THC level, which can be undetectable to 0.3%, not causing impairment with standard dosing. The risk of THC showing up in a drug test is unlikely but remains a possibility. While you may not feel high with CBD, you can experience a significant level of relaxation.
A variety of products continue to surface as studies and people experience the relief CBD offers. There are no known serious side effects nor known lethal dose. Commonly experienced side effects include loss of appetite, weight loss, dizziness, and diarrhea. Current research in the realm of CBD overwhelmingly suggests it is helpful for symptoms related to anxiety and at least two forms of epilepsy (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). There is promising research that CBD helps with neuropathic and inflammatory pain; however, not in nociceptive pain (tissue damage) or functional pain. CBD also shows promising results to aid in opioid withdrawal.
THC, CBD, and Other Ingredients
After reading about each component above, you may have guessed that THC and CBD have overlapping benefits. This is where the ratio of THC to CBD, or potency comes into play. Specifically, for pain that is only partially resolved with CBD, a product with a low dose of THC (2.5mg – 5mg) may be more effective without much of a euphoric feeling.
If you opt for edibles or lotions, you’ll usually find additional ingredients that boost the THC or CBD effects, such as peppermint, menthol, cayenne, or chocolate. Anti-inflammatory and pain-boosting topicals often include other cannabinoids like THCA. Also, keep in mind that CBD has a natural blocking THC from activating the ECS receptors as it usually would. If you’re new to the cannabis world, a product with a mix of THC and CBD may be recommended by your budtender.
Tips on Choice
If you’re not sure what to get when you visit your dispensary or purchase items online, first have an idea of what you want to feel (or symptoms want to treat). There is quite a long list of products to choose from, including titrates, joints, gummies, cookies, teas, pills, and lotions. Overall, the higher the CBD, the less of a high you’ll get from any THC in the product. Those who are on medication should consult their medical provider or pharmacist before adding cannabis products. Note that it will take some experimenting to find just the right fit, and remember that budtenders are there to help, and we’re just an email away.