Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant, most commonly known as cannabis.
Both of these substances interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body and brain, but they differed dramatically in their effects.
CBD is non-psychoactive which means that it will not get the user high. Because of this trait, CBD appears more frequently than THC in dietary and natural supplements.
Read also: What is CBD?
THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. In other words, THC is the primary agent responsible for creating the ‘high’ associated with recreational cannabis use.
This compound works, in part, by mimicking the effects of anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters are produced naturally by the human body and help to modulate sleeping and eating habits, the perception of pain, and countless other bodily functions.
The effects of THC include:
Research studies indicate that THC may useful in helping with:
Cannabidiol is one of the most critical cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant. It exists both in agricultural hemp, as well as medical cannabis. While cannabinoids are present within several plants in nature, cannabis is the only plant known to contain CBD.
CBD has the same chemical formula as THC, with the atoms in a different arrangement.
This slight variance causes THC to create a psychoactive effect, while CBD does not. This fact means that when you ingest CBD for medical purposes, you will more likely experience a relief of your unwanted discomfort, with little or no noticeable effect on your cognitive abilities.
Research studies indicate that CBD may be useful in helping with:
Additionally, many individuals experience difficulty managing the side effects associated with THC, rendering useless any potential benefits.
Some experts suggest that a combination of THC and CBD is the ideal way to approach pain, giving validity to something known as the entourage effect.
For example, 100mg of isolated CBD may be substantially less effective at alleviating symptoms than 100mgs of a whole-plant, CBD-containing cannabis extract. Many argue that consuming the plant in its whole form provides all the necessary cofactors to facilitate proper absorption.
Different components within the cannabis plant work synergistically together and as a result, have a much stronger effect than any one of those components alone.
So when combining several compounds, the result is more than the sum of each part. Instead, there is a multiplying effect.
Take CBD and THC as an example. CBD is known to modulate the effect of THC on the human body. Formulations that contain roughly equal amounts of THC and CBD are most effective for pain relief.[S]
There is no hard science (yet!) when it comes to the theory of the entourage effect. It is up to each individual to decide which option is best for them.
THC is an illegal drug with considerable immediate and long-term cognitive side effects. These include impaired thinking and reasoning, a reduced ability to plan and organize, altered decision-making, and reduced control over impulses.
Also, chronic use of THC correlates with significant abnormalities in the heart and brain.
CBD lacks the harmful cognitive effects of THC. In fact, CBD can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabis plants containing small amounts of CBD and high levels of THC result in a stronger ‘stoned’ feeling, while plants with more CBD and less THC create a weaker, more relaxed, effect.
Given the increasing popularity of medical cannabis, breeders are currently creating strains with higher CBD to THC ratios to minimize the psychoactive side effects.
Overall, the lower health risks of CBD, combined with its efficacy, make it a better candidate for natural applications than THC.
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