While most people would assume the two most sought after cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), are the same – they are fundamentally mistaken. The compounds are as different from one another as day and night.
There are 85 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, yet most prominent are THC and CBD. Individually the two have unique medicinal benefits. CBD is primarily used for pain relief and physical ailments, while THC can treat a range of psychological issues, and is often referred to as a “deprogrammer.”
However, when the two compounds are combined together they complement each other, working hand-in-hand to achieve an “entourage effect.”
The Entourage Effect
According to CBDvapepenguide.com, the entourage effect compounds the benefits of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids, with very little psychoactive THC, creating a synergy between the two.
With countless health benefits from both the THC and CBD, it’s undeniable that they work best when combined together. However, undesirable side effects like cloudiness, and feeling “high” or groggy, lessens the appeal of THC. Consequently, this creates friction in the market when it comes to the sale and legality of the psychoactive compound.
Applying the full-spectrum method attempts to treat a range of illnesses by minimizing the negative side effects, and enhancing the greatest benefits.
In a bid to further substantiate this, we are going to discuss a few things that set the two cannabinoids apart.
1) Molecular variation
It’s time to put your chemistry cap on as we begin our analysis from the very basic units that make up each compound and in this regard, THC and CBD are almost identical.
A similar chemical makeup consisting of: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms, yet a different arrangement of these atoms in each creates unique effects in either case.
You could argue that a minor alteration in either would create incredibly different side effects, however, it all begins with noticeable differences in the arrangement of these chemical compounds that sets these two on divergent pathways.
2) Psychoactive effects
The psychoactive effect of the THC compound creates the sensation of feeling “ high” and while THC boasts amazing properties and health benefits, they’re more subtle counterpart CBD, shares these benefits without the psychoactive element.
Simply put, CBD is non-psychoactive while THC is psychoactive. These traits can be traced back to the manner in which both compounds react with CB1 receptors in the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoid system.
According to Medium.com, CB1 receptors are found primarily in regions of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes. Things like memory, cognition, regulating emotions, and coordination are directly affected, while the CB2 receptors are found in the central nervous and immune systems.
THC is able to fuse directly with CB1 cells, courtesy of its convenient structure which sends signals to the brain that trigger a cerebral high.
Conversely, CBD’s structure makes such bonding impossible and it even has the ability to sever existing bonds between THC and CB1 receptors thereby negating the psychoactive properties of the former. What they do have in common, is that they both bind to CB2 receptors. This can have a calming effect, resulting in: pain relief, reduced inflammation, anxiety relief, increased appetite, mood management, and an overall sense of well-being.
With THC’s ability to alter the mental state and cognition of its users, it gets mixed feedback from the general public, and is illegal in many nations across the globe.
Although cannabis is legal for recreational use in Canada, and a number of regions across the United States, the substance is still under legal duress in many parts of the world.
Its CBD counterpart, on the other hand, is still in limbo with regards to the exact legality of use. Yet from a legal perspective, it is less likely to cause a user to violate any social standards or legal doctrines, and government officials continue to lessen their grip on this seemingly harmless compound.
In fact, the US’s Farm Bill of 2014 federally legalized CBD-derived hemp although the alternative versions obtained from marijuana still remain shackled by state law. Each state allows a small concentration of THC to be present in a given CBD product. This percentage ranges from 0.3% – 0.8%, making a very tiny amount of THC consumption legal alongside CBD.
While the legality of CBD has been quite a grey area with different states adopting varying regulations across the US, the Farm Bill of 2018 should make things a bit clearer.
While the two compounds are almost identical, there are a few key differentiators that users should be aware of before embarking on a journey into the medicinal use of cannabis.
From the perspective of matching health benefits, there are a couple of factors that set the two apart. Users should also consider their purpose and intended outcome prior to using the herb to achieve the best results.
Essentially, in this debate neither is superior to the other. However, CBD is often the preferred of the pair as it still affords most of the health benefits of THC, with a few added upsides. CBD won’t make you paranoid or negatively affect coordination and cognition, and it won’t land you in hot water with authorities.
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Camila Villagonzalo, of The Darling Company