The Difference between CBD vs. THC – Effects & Benefits

Feeling a little low? Or just looking for something to do in the unlimited free time that college life offers you? Why not resort to cannabis? Apparently, that is the habit of at least 7.3% of people from United States. What makes cannabis so special? What gives you that euphoria and heightened sense of relaxation? What is the metabolism that occurs in the body when you intake marijuana, hashish or hash oil? What are the effects of marijuana on the body? Well seat tight because you have come to the right place to find out.

What is CBD?

CBD is an active ingredient that exists both in medical cannabis and agricultural hemp.  This cannabis compound has the same chemical formula as THC, but its atoms are arranged in a different structure.  CBD has notable medical benefits, but does not make people feel “high” and its known to counteract the psychoactivity of THC.  Unlike THC, CBD binds to CB2 receptors and as a result, it does not elicit psychoactive effects. In higher concentrations, it has mood enhancing effects.  The fact that CBD doesn’t elicit psychoactive effects makes it a good treatment option for a number of ailments.  And for this reason, this chemical compound is commonly used in dietary and natural supplements.

What is THC?

THC is the primary psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant.  Unlike CBD, it directly binds to CB1 receptors in the brain. This component is responsible for the psychoactive effects that recreational cannabis elicits when consumed. THC works by mimicking the effects of particular neurotransmitters that are produced in the nervous system. The “high” that is mostly associated with recreational cannabis is caused by activating CB1 receptors.  

Knowing the key differences between CBD and THC is important for finding the right cannabis products and understanding how they will affect you.

Key Differences of THC & CBD

THC is the primary psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant.  Unlike CBD, it directly binds to CB1 receptors in the brain. This component is responsible for the psychoactive effects that recreational cannabis elicits when consumed. THC works by mimicking the effects of particular neurotransmitters that are produced in the nervous system. The “high” that is mostly associated with recreational cannabis is caused by activating CB1 receptors.  

Knowing the key differences between CBD and THC is important for finding the right cannabis products and understanding how they will affect you.

1. Interaction with Cannabinoid receptors

THC directly binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors while having a higher affinity to CB1 receptors. When THC binds with CB1 receptors, it forms a bond that sends signals to the brain resulting in psychoactive effects.  On the other hand, CBD has little affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, its presence negates the bond between THC and CB1 receptors to neutralize the psychoactive effects elicited by THC.

2. Psychoactive properties

Another key difference between the two cannabinoids is that THC has psychoactive effects while CBD does not. THC elicits these effects simply because it binds to the body’s brain receptors better than CBD does.  In fact, CBD is considered an antagonist of CB1 agonists and acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of compounds like THC hence reducing anxiety, stress or other negative feelings. Therefore, CBD cannot elicit psychoactive effects regardless of the amount one consumes.  

Due to its psychoactive properties, THC induces sleep or drowsiness whereas CBD keeps you energized. As a result, CBD is often extracted to be used for non-recreational purposes.

3. Atomic arrangement

While they share the same chemical makeup, the two cannabinoids have a distinct atomic arrangement. THC comes with a closed ring with an ester group while CBD supports an open ring with a hydroxyl and alkene group. The atomic arrangement difference between THC and CBD is responsible for the distinct ways in which they interact with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors.

4. Chemical abundance

THC is more abundant in the cannabis plant while CBD is plentiful in hemp. The chemical makeup of cannabis plant is dominated by higher quantities of THC making it more potent and an ideal source of the psychoactive compound. Hemp’s chemical makeup is dominated by CBD making it an ideal source of CBD from cannabis.

5. Side effects

Current research shows that the side effects of CBD are somehow limited. Users of CBD may report dry mouth, drowsiness, and low blood pressure as some of the side effects they experience. On the other hand, higher concentration of THC causes negative side effects such as anxiety, dry mouth, paranoia, lethargy, red eyes, and reduced cognitive functions.

CBD is usually embraced in the medical, health and wellness milieu while THC is popular among recreational consumers.

Whereas THC and CBD share many similarities, the two cannabinoids have key distinctions. Both of them have potential benefits which are based on individual needs. As the debate on legalization of cannabis intensifies, understanding the differences between the two

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