CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference?
CBD and THC products, whether it’s topicals, vape, edibles, oils, or powder drinks, are flooding the market. A lot of misinformation and incomplete information is circulating the web too. As a result, many people are unsure of what THC and CBD are as well as the difference between the two.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between THC and CBD, the benefits and risks of both, and how they interact with your mind and body.
What are CBD and THC?
Cannabidiol also called CBD for short and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC are just two of over 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant. Many subspecies of the cannabis plant exist but hemp and marijuana are the ones most often used for CBD and THC. Although hemp is lower in THC and higher in CBD, and marijuana is higher in THC and lower in CBD, both cannabinoids are extracted from hemp and marijuana.
The primary difference between CBD and THC is that THC has psychoactive effects on the brain, which we call a “high” and CBD does not. Both cannabinoids offer health benefits, but THC is considered a controlled substance, meaning it has laws regarding its use.
How Do THC and CBD Work?
We have a unique network within our central nervous system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that scientists discovered after they discovered cannabis. Neuroreceptors or cannabinoid receptors are part of our ECS, and they bond with the cannabinoids in our bodies.
There are three parts to the ECS:
1. Endocannabinoids – naturally occurring cannabinoids in our body.
2. Cannabinoid receptors – the class of cell membrane receptors that bond with endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.
3. Enzymes – biological molecules that break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.
Our body produces cannabinoids naturally, but it’s in very small doses. When we consume CBD and THC, cannabinoids enter our system in much higher doses. As a result, these cannabinoids have a greater effect on our mind and body than the natural cannabinoids.
Different Types of CBD and THC
The market has produced several types of CBD and THC products, such as marijuana or cannabis, CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD. Let’s take a look at each product type.
Marijuana or cannabis is the controlled substance we mentioned earlier. While it has its uses, there are laws and regulations regarding its use and it can affect your employment status. We discuss the risks of marijuana including the laws and how it can affect your job later.
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. It has been refined to eliminate all other cannabinoids including THC, flavonoids, terpenes, and more. Broad-spectrum cannabidiol is closely related to CBD isolate; it has been processed to eliminate THC and it may or may not contain other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other compounds of the cannabis plant.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids including THC, flavonoids, terpenes, and any other compounds in the cannabis plant. However, full-spectrum CBD has less than 0.3% THC in it as opposed to upwards of 5% THC in marijuana.
What are the Risks of CBD and THC?
The risks associated with CBD are considered low because it is a natural substance and non-psychoactive. However, there is still much we do not know about CBD and its long-term side effects. Some people have complained of nausea and fatigue.
THC, on the other hand, comes with a few side effects and risks. The major concern for some people regarding THC is that it causes a “high.” THC has psychoactive properties that alter brain function, which causes a type of intoxication that is similar to alcohol and drugs. However, full-spectrum CBD at 0.3%, will have a very small effect and most people report feeling tired rather than intoxicated.
Another major issue with marijuana or full-spectrum CBD is that THC will show up in a drug test and since THC is considered a drug many employers do not allow their staff to use it while employed at their facility.
You should also be aware of the laws that regulate CBD and THC use in your area. Although CBD has been removed from the federal government’s controlled substance list, state laws still govern how and when CBD can be used. In addition, all full-spectrum CBD products that have less than 0.3% THC have been federally legalized, but not necessarily legalized in your state.
While all 50 states have legalized THC-free cannabidiol, several states are still waiting on legislation and FDA approval for CBD foods. As to the use of marijuana, it is legal in some states, medically legal according to the federal government, and recreational use is federally illegal. Make sure you check with your state government regarding the use of CBD and cannabis.
Advantages of CBD
The primary benefit of THC-free CBD is that it can treat several medical conditions without causing a “high” or showing THC in a drug test.
Scientists are still studying exactly what medical conditions CBD can treat, but case studies are pointing to the following health issues:
• Chronic pain
• Side effects of cancer: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
Advantages of THC
THC is said to have a greater effect on critical medical conditions like Parkinson’s, seizures, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia, cancer-related pain and nausea, and more.
Several studies exist showing THC significantly improves epileptic seizures and Parkinson’s. Due to its effects on the brain and body, medical professionals believe it can help with many other disorders and diseases, but these case studies are still underway.
Choosing a Quality Product
If you’re considering CBD or THC as a remedy for a health issue, you should understand how to identify a quality product. A good CBD seller will have a spec sheet on all their products. This spec sheet shows all the cannabinoids, solvents, contaminants, and even pesticides present in their cannabidiol.
The spec sheet serves two major purposes:
1. List THC: if you do not want THC in your system, it’s important to confirm the seller’s product is THC-free. Several companies have been dishonest about their product being completely free of THC, and this could affect your job.
2. Confirms potency: you can also confirm that the company’s product has as much CBD in it as they say it does. A few companies have been caught selling CBD products with less CBD than they advertise.
Cannabidiol and THC are two of many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but they are the cannabinoids most often used to treat medical conditions. Although CBD and THC have their place in the health sector, be sure to consider your specific needs and the laws and regulations governing CBD and THC.