CBD Vs. THC: A Look at The Similarities and Differences

October 01, 2020

The legal and medical stigmatization of the cannabis plant is a concern across many quarters. Even with the rising awareness, many are still ignorant about the plant and its properties.

Most common compounds in the marijuana plant are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD can be extracted from marijuana and hemp – both variants of the cannabis family. CBD is commonly infused in oils, gels, tinctures, pills, foods, beverages, etc.

THC, on the other hand, is the main psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant. It’s responsible for the high associated with marijuana usage. THC can be obtained from smoking cannabis herbs. It’s also commonly infused into edibles, oils, capsules, tinctures, etc.

Both CBD and THC binds with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), but with varying effects.

Let’s quickly discuss some significant differences between the two compounds:

1. Chemical Composition

    CBD and THC have similar molecular structures– 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, there is a slight difference in the arrangement which accounts for the different bodily effects they offer.

    2. Psychoactivity

      Despite similarities in chemical structures, THC and CBD do not deliver the same psychoactive potency. While CBD is psychoactive, it’s mind-altering effect is insignificant and do not cause a ‘high,’ as its relative, THC, does. Its mild mind-altering tendency influences sleep, pain relief, immunity functions – to mention but a few.

      THC interacts with the brains’ CB1 receptors to produce a heightened euphoric feeling popularly called a ‘high.’

      3. Legal Status

      Cannabis-related laws are gradually changing in the US and across the world.

      While the Farm Bill makes CBD legal under the federal laws, THC remains illegal federally. However, 33 states and DC have relaxed cannabis laws making THC-rich products legal for medical and/or recreational purposes. However, obtaining cannabis for medical purposes might only be possible with recognized medical prescriptions.

      To avoid the legal implications, before you choose any cannabis product, ensure you know what the state law says about the particular product before you buy.

      4. Medications

      Both CBD and THC offers similar medical benefits. However, THC’s dreaded psychoactivity makes CBD a more preferred and widely used option, particularly within the medical and fitness niche.

      While Epidiolex for Epilepsy in children is the only FDA-approved CBD-infused medication, research reports, backed by anecdotal evidence, claim the compound may help handle conditions including:

      • Pain
      • Seizure
      • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
      • Mental Disorder
      • Inflammation
      • Anxiety
      • Depression
      • Nausea

      On its part, THC may help manage:

      • Muscle spasticity
      • Pain
      • Anxiety
      • Nausea
      • Low appetite
      • Insomnia
      • Glaucoma

      5. Side Effects

      THC’s likely effects include:

      • Dry mouth
      • Increase heart rate
      • Red eyes
      • Anxiety
      • Memory loss
      • Dry mouth
      • Coordination problems
      • Reduced reaction times

      CBD is considered widely tolerated even in extreme dosage. However, a handful of CBD users reports mild cases of:

      • Diarrhea
      • Dizziness
      • Weight loss
      • Fatigue
      • Appetite changes

      Thankfully, neither CBD nor THC is fatal. However, chronic THC usage may cause negative mental concerns.

      Wrap Up

      Both THC and CBD are compounds found in the popular cannabis plant. They both promise several therapeutic potencies.

      These compounds are both relatively safe (compared to other chemical-packed conventional prescriptions) but may interact with other drugs.

      But before you dose either, remember to discuss your concerns and the options with your doctor.


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