The two most important active ingredients in cannabis are THC and CBD. They are responsible for the creative high or sense of ease users get as a result of cannabis consumption. Each strain has a different amount of THC and CBD, which growers can cultivate to produce specific effects.
For instance, sativa has lower doses of CBD and higher doses of THC than indica. As a result, sativa is known for giving people more energy as opposed to intense relaxation. Furthermore, hybrids mix and match the CBD and THC properties of their parents for custom blends.
Understanding the effects of THC and CBD will go a long way towards making your cannabis consumption experience as enjoyable as possible. You will be able to pick strains and hybrids that can, therefore, elicit the desired medicinal or recreational impact. Without further adieu, here is everything you need to know about THC and CBD.
What Is THC?
THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. The psychoactive ingredient is commonly used to enhance the focus, euphoria, and creativity of the user. It is the chemical responsible for a majority of the psychological effects of cannabis.
While people around the world have used cannabis for these properties, THC only garnered scientific study in the 1960s. In 1964, chemists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni isolated the cannabinoid. As a result, the duo was later able to create completely synthetic versions of the compound.
The chemical is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in marijuana. THC is in the resin of the plant as well as its reproductive organs. Other chemical compounds include CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), and 9-tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa), which have distinct properties and benefits.
THC works by attaching itself to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for regions connected with memory, happiness, and time perception. When the THC locks with the end, it activates the receptor and therefore influences the associated senses.
One of the primary functions of THC is to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain. This chemical is responsible for creating euphoria. Depending on whether you eat, smoke, or apply the THC, the effects can start immediately or within a few minutes and last several hours.
Sativa strains have higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD compared to indica. Sativa flowers, such as Acapulco Gold and Supernatural, peak at 23 and 22 percent THC, respectively. Popular indica strains, like Afghan Kush and Super Silver Haze, are slightly lower at 21 and 16 percent.
People have used marijuana for medicinal purposes for as long as humanity has cultivated the plant. Healthcare providers will proscribe natural and synthetic forms of THC, depending on the ailments of the patient. One FDA-approved version is dronabinol. The drug helps mitigate nausea and vomiting that is brought on from cancer treatment and can stimulate appetite in people suffering from HIV, AIDS, or dementia.
Just because THC can be all-natural does not inherently make it a better option than traditional prescription pills. THC comes with its set of risks, like any drug. Because cannabinoid alters the functionality of the brain, it can impair a person’s ability to make memories as well as their motor skills. Therefore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends waiting three hours after ingesting cannabis before driving.
It is also possible to overdose on THC. Edibles are a potentially problematic source because the body needs approximately half an hour to breakdown the food and cannabis, which delays the onset of the effects. People who do not feel the immediate head or body high may then be tempted to ingest more to increase the intensity.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. The cannabinoid is a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. It can also minimize the chance of seizures and provide relief from pain and anxiety.
CBD works in a parallel fashion to THC. The cannabinoids associates with specific receptors in the brain called CB1s and CB2s. These receptors are responsible for coordination, memory, thinking, and emotions as well as the immune system, respectively. The CBD actives these receptors, though, because it is not psychoactive, the compound will not alter a person’s state of mind.
One of the differences between CBD and THC is that CBD does not bond directly with the CB1 receptor. It can even negate a connection between the receptor and THC. If that negation happens, the CBD can neutralize the psychoactive effects.
Like THC, people have used CBD for recreational and medicinal purposes for millennia. It wasn’t until 1940 that we isolated the compound. Chemist and Harvard graduate Roger Adams isolated CBD from sativa and six years later, though at the time, he did not understand the magnitude of his discovery.
Six years later, scientists began using CBD in clinical tests on lab animals while Raphael Mechoulman identified the three-dimensional structure of the compound. Mechoulman is often credited as the discoverer of CBD. One of the breakthroughs for the drug was in 1980 when Mechoulman found that CBD could treat epilepsy.
Today, CBD is everywhere. CBD supplements and products are available in all 50 states, and people can get it in lotions, pills, foods, oils, and water. Athletes and medical patients often use the compound to heal their body after workouts or illnesses.
Many people who have mental illness use CBD as a form of treatment. It can assist in calming people down and alleviating stress and anxiety associated with their condition. Some individuals use CBD as a replacement for painkillers because of the enhanced benefits and minimal side effects. Other treatments include CBD for Alzheimer’s, acne, diabetes, cancer, and neurological diseases.
As mentioned above, indica has higher levels of CBD than sativa strains. For instance, Afghan Kush and Maui Maui are 6 and 0.55 percent CBD, respectively, while sativa strains like LA Confidential and Acapulco Gold are below 0.3 percent. The higher potency makes the side effects of CBD-forward strains better for treating pain, insomnia, and inflammation.
While CBD has a substantial number of benefits, it also comes with potential drawbacks. Minor health concerns may include diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth. The American Academy of Pediatrics also does not recommend that pregnant women use CBD.
CBD vs. THC: Which Should I Choose?
Before choosing between CBD and THC, it is essential to know what your intentions and goals are. Each cannabinoid has unique properties that create vastly different results. For instance, it would not make sense to use CBD oils if you want to spur creativity and energy levels.
Also, it is worth noting that CBD and THC are not options where you pick one or the other. (The exception is CBD products like oils, pills, foods, beverages, and topicals.) Indica, sativa, and hybrids have various levels of the two compounds. Knowing the effects and benefits of each can help you select a strain that leans towards one or the other or strikes a balance.
CBD is better suited for therapeutic purposes. That can mean treating stress, anxiety, and depression in addition to physical ailments. Researchers have documented patients with multiple sclerosis using CBD to improve their ability to walk without muscle spasms or pain.
Other therapeutic benefits included improvement of general well being. One study linked CBD with reducing heart conditions, such as stroke and heart attacks. Additional studies have shown a link between CBD and improved sleep and quality of life for people who have Parkinson’s disease.
The form of ingestion of the CBD matters too. Smoking, vaping, and other forms of oral ingestion are the fastest ways to experience the effects. Topicals and edibles are slower to act because the body needs more time to absorb and process the CBD but provide more potent results.
THC is often associated with recreational use because the psychoactive properties provide a “head high.” People that ingest THC-centric strains of cannabis, like sativa, find they have more energy and creativity. These benefits make it ideal for daytime use.
While CBD is arguably more well known for its medicinal purposes, THC has health benefits too. Studies have shown it can treat symptoms related to inflammation, nausea, chemotherapy, and digestive health. However, the cognitive impairment associated with THC is a side effect some users may wish to avoid.
CBD and THC are essential components of cannabis. While the cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain in similar ways, the two compounds have different effects. CBD provides a mellow and relaxed feeling while THC offers a creative and energetic high.
Remember, every strain of marijuana comes with CBD and THC. Whether you opt for indica, sativa, or hybrids will change the respectively level of each cannabinoid. The exception to the rule is if you select pills, tinctures, or topicals that have CBD infused into them.
Understanding the benefits and potential side effects of each cannabinoid will shape your use and enjoyment of cannabis products. CBD and THC are central to experience whether you choose to eat, drink, smoke, or apply cannabis. If you have additional questions about which strains or products are right for you, feel free to contact your health care provider or our mail order dispensary.