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As the legal use of hemp and other cannabis products grows, consumers are increasingly curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two naturally occurring compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus.
CBD can be extracted from hemp or cannabis.
Hemp and cannabis come from the Cannabis sativa plant. Legal hemp must contain 0.3% THC or less. CBD is sold in the form of gels, gums, oils, supplements, extracts, etc.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the feeling of euphoria. It can be consumed by smoking cannabis. It is also available in oils, capsules, tinctures, etc. Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects.
Read on to learn more about these compounds. Although they have much in common, they have essential differences that determine how they are used.
CBD vs THC: chemical structure
CBD and THC have exactly the same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. A slight difference in the way the atoms are arranged explains their different effects on your body.
CBD and THC are chemically similar to the endocannabinoids in your body. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors.
This interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for transmitting messages between cells and play a role in pain, immune function, stress and sleep, to name a few.
CBD vs. THC: the psychoactive components
Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC do not have the same psychoactive effects. CBD is psychoactive, but not in the same way as THC. It does not produce the euphoria associated with THC. CBD has been shown to help with anxiety, depression and seizures.
THC binds to cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or a feeling of euphoria.
CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors. CBD needs THC to bind to CB1 receptors, and in turn, it can help reduce some of the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC, such as euphoria or sedation.
CBD vs THC: advantages
CBD and THC have many of the same medical benefits. They can relieve many of the same conditions. However, CBD does not cause the euphoric effects of THC. Some people may prefer to use CBD because of the lack of this side effect.
In June 2018, the FDA approved the first prescription drug to contain CBD. It is used to treat rare and difficult to control forms of epilepsy. (Epidiolex is not currently approved for any of the other conditions listed below).
CBD is used to help treat other various conditions, such as:
- epileptic seizures
- psychosis or mental disorder
- inflammatory bowel disease
THC is used to help with the following:
- muscle spasticity
- lack of appetite
CBD vs THC: side effects
CBD is well tolerated, even at high doses.The side effects that occur when using CBD are likely the result of drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking.
THC causes temporary side effects, such as:
- increased heart rate
- coordination problems
- dry mouth
- red eyes
- slower reaction time
- memory loss
Side effects of CBD can include:
- changes in appetite
- weight loss
These side effects are part of the psychoactive properties of the compound.
However, high THC consumption may be linked to long-term negative psychiatric effects. This is particularly true for adolescents who use large amounts of THC, although there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis use causes psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
CBD vs THC: drug testing
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are stored in the body’s fat. They can show up on drug tests for days or weeks after use.
Not all drug tests are able to detect CBD, but there are tests that are sensitive to CBD. Most of the drug tests Standard drug tests look for chemicals related to THC, so THC or marijuana use may show up on a test.
Also, hemp can produce some THC in addition to CBD, so a test could be positive for THC even if you haven’t used it.
It’s important to note that products that claim to be THC-free may not be, so if you test positive, you should not use CBD or THC products.
Why are people talking about the THC content of CBD oil if THC and CBD are two different compounds?
CBD and THC are two of the most important cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Both cannabis and hemp produce CBD and THC.
However, cannabis has a higher concentration of THC. Hemp has a higher concentration of CBD. The average strain of cannabis today contains about 12% THC from a safe source. CBD oil may contain small amounts of THC because it is present at low levels in the hemp plant. CBD cannot contain more than 0.2% THC to be legal in most countries.