Cannabis has been making a splash around the world after many countries (including many US States) have moved to legalize medical and adult use of the plant. The components that make up the cannabis plant are vast, but THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is often the most recognizable, due to its popularity as a medically helpful and recreationally popular psychotropic compound –in other words, it gets one “high”. After years of breeding medical and recreational cannabis for high levels of THC however, many noted that a lesser known component of the same cannabis plant, Cannabinol (CBD) was actually providing the majority of the positive physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the plant.
Fast-forward almost a decade and we now know that the CBD compound is effective for may as an anti-inflammatory, mood enhancer, anxiety reducer, and effective pain management tool. Many with insomnia rely on it as a safe sleep treatment as well. Due to its Federally legal status in all 50 United States and efficacy for pain, inflammation, sleep, and mood, CBD use has been on the rise for not only humans but also pets who suffer from anxiety, pain, and sleep as well.
The Differences Between THC and CBD
Now that you have the basics down, let’s dive into a few more differences and what THC and CBD both offer the body. Firstly, these compounds are most effective when used in unison, known as “The Entourage Effect”. This is because the cannabis plant is a complex species with over 100 different chemicals at play, and this symphony is much more effective than a solo performance by one compound. It’s not just THC and CBD that make up the plant, and the complex relationship between cannabinoids and essential oils known as terpenes is still being researched. What we do know is that CBD is great for mitigating a lot of the negative aspects of THC and that even trace amounts of THC improve the effectiveness of CBD.
On the science side, all cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBN, CBG, and CBV, interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Stretching from the gut to the brain, the ECS is a neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in the central nervous system, brain function, and the response to environmental stressors. The ECS is comprised of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and the enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids. What that means is the ECS is responsible for managing sleep quality, pain management, mood, memory, immune system response, and a host of other functions.
While THC and CBD have similar chemical components and both interact with the ECS, they have very different effects on the body. THC is psychoactive, meaning “affecting the mind”, and in cannabis, it’s the term for the “high” individuals feel when consuming THC. The reason THC produces this effect, while CBD does not, is because THC binds strongly with a certain receptor group called CB1 receptors in the ECS, and produces the state of euphoria those with THC may enjoy.
CBD does not bind strongly with the CB1 receptor but is instead draw to bind with CB2 receptors. Fortunately for us, CBD binding with CB2 receptors which helps with issues such as pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and more. Also, using THC and CBD together is a great way to mellow out your high and get rid of any paranoid feeling you get.
Research in these two primary components has increased substantially over the last decade, and we are now learning more and more every day about this complex neuromodulatory system and miracle plant. With this legitimization of information surrounding CBD, THC, and how these interact with the hundreds of other components of cannabis, consumers can finally explore this fascinating world of natural medicine without the stigma of reckless drug use.
The Legality of Cannabis
With the legality of cannabis in the United States still in flux, there is a lot of miscommunication about what is legal and what is not. In 2018 the US Government clarified what is considered legal and illegal with an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill pertaining to Cannabis. This new legal guideline split the Cannabis Sativa L. plant into two categories, Hemp and Regulated Cannabis. Hemp is defined as cannabis containing 0.3% THC or less, and Regulated Cannabis as any product containing more than 0.3% THC. The former, according to the US Government, is now legal in all 50 States, while the later remains Federally illegal, with States left to define their own guidelines. Many experts position that this status is being actively worked on, and several bills have been introduced to usher in a new phase of Federal legalization.
THC and CBD are very similar in that they both can contribute to tremendous amounts of relief in the body. This relief isn’t unique to humans either, with many animals finding CBD and THC effective as well. CBD for dogs and other pets is still being studied as well, but many reports indicate the same positives humans find in these compounds, other animals can enjoy too. Remember though that THC should only be given to an animal under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
THC has been seen to help with:
- Acute & Generalized Pain
- Muscle Spasticity
- Low Appetite
CBD has been seen to help with:
- Acute & Generalized Pain
- Mood Issues
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
- Nervousness & Generalized Anxiety
We hope this article has left you a bit more informed about the differences between THC and CBD, how they interact with the body, and what that means for designing your wellness plan.
At Design Wellness, we want you to be as informed as possible about what matters most about CBD. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comment section below or reach out us at [email protected]!