The Difference Between THC and CBD

So many of our patients sincerely need to use CBD for their illnesses and yet inadvertently refuse the recommendation by our physicians. Our philosophy behind this is that they truly do not understand the various differences between the chemical components of CBD vs. THC and understandably so. 

Let us start with the basics 

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa. Both of these substances interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body, but the types of effects brought about by these compounds couldn’t be more different. For this reason, CBD is more often used as a medical treatment than THC.

What is THC?

THC is the main psychoactive component of the marijuana plant. In other words, THC is the primary agent responsible for creating the “high” feeling associated with marijuana use. This compound works by imitating the effects of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally by the human body to help modulate sleeping and eating habits, as well as the perception of pain.

The effects of THC include (1):

* Relaxation
* Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing
* Fatigue
* Hunger
* Reduced aggression

What are the medical applications of THC?

Research studies have indicated that this cannabinoid may be able to help treat:

* Side effects of chemotherapy – Reduce nausea and vomiting while increasing appetite (2)
* Multiple sclerosis – Improve spasticity and bladder function while reducing painful spasms and central pain (1)
* Glaucoma – Reduce pressure inside the eye (1)
* AIDS – Alleviate symptoms by stimulating appetite and eating (1)
* Spinal injury – Lessen tremors (1)

What is CBD?

CBD has the same chemical formula as THC, but the atoms are arranged differently. This slight variance causes THC to create a psychoactive effect while CBD lacks such an influence.

CBD accounts for up to 40 percent of cannabis extract (3). Its plentiful nature, coupled with its failure to produce a “high” effect, make it a strong candidate for medical applications.

The effects of CBD include (3):

* Reduction of psychotic symptoms
* Relief from convulsions and nausea
* Decreased anxiety
* Decreased inflammation

What are the medical applications of CBD?

Research indicates that CBD may be useful in treating (3):

* Schizophrenia – Reduce psychotic symptoms
* Social anxiety disorder – Lower anxiety
* Depression – Reduce depressive symptoms
* Side effects of cancer treatment – Decrease pain and nausea while stimulating appetite

Why is CBD used more than THC for medical treatments?

CBD lacks the cognitive effects of THC. In fact, CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC, both in plant form and when administered from extract (4). Cannabis plants containing small amounts of CBD and high levels of THC result in a stronger “stoned” feeling, while plants with more CBD and less THC create a weaker “buzz.” Given the increasing popularity of medical marijuana, breeders are currently creating strains with higher CBD to THC ratios to minimize the psychoactive side effects.

Overall, the lower health risks of CBD, combined with its efficacy, make it a better candidate for medical applications than THC. Although our specialist would argue the proper dosages of each component work in conjunction with each other to perform most optimally in the healing process. 

References

  • (1) Tetrahydrocannabinol. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabinol.

  • (2) Questions and Answers about Cannabis. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/page2.

  • (3) Cannabidiol. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidiol.

  • (4) Cannabinoid. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid.