716 Health wellness coaches, Tony Ferro & Kristen Cooper teach Cannabis Education classes both virtually and in-person.
As the legal use of marijuana and other cannabis products grows, consumers are becoming more curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus.
CBD can be extracted from hemp or from marijuana. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC, while marijuana plants are cannabis plants that contain higher concentrations of THC. CBD is sold in the form of gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation. It can be consumed by smoking marijuana. It’s also available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more. Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects.
CBD vs. THC: Chemical structure Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. A slight difference in how the atoms are arranged accounts for the differing effects on your body. Both CBD and THC are chemically similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors. The interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for relaying messages between cells and have roles in pain, immune function, stress, sleep, to name a few.
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive components Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound. That means it doesn’t produce the “high” associated with THC. THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or sense of euphoria. CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors. In fact, it can interfere with the binding of THC and dampen the psychoactive effects.
CBD vs. THC: Medical benefitsCBD and THC have many of the same medical benefits. They can provide relief from several of the same conditions. However, CBD doesn’t cause the euphoric effects that occur with THC. Some people may prefer to use CBD because of the lack of this side effect. In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approvedTrusted Source Epidiolex, the first prescription medication to contain CBD. It’s used to treat rare, difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy. CBD is used to help with other various conditions, such as:
psychosis or mental disorders
inflammatory bowel disease
THC is used to help with conditions such as:
CBD vs. THC: Side effectsCBD is well-tolerated, even in large doses. Research suggests any side effects that occur with CBD use are likely the result of drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking. THC causes temporary side effects, such as:
increased heart rate
slower reaction times
These side effects are part of the compound’s psychoactive properties. Neither compound is fatal.
Takeaway CBD and THC both have medical benefits. They’re also both considered safe, but consider the possibility of side effects and interactions with other drugs you’re taking. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions.