CBD vs. THC: What You Need to Know

Aug 30, 2021

While CBD’s popularity has been on the rise for the past few years, there is still confusion around what exactly CBD is, where it comes from, and how it compares to its counterpart, THC. 

Where do CBD and THC come from?

CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. THC, on the other hand, stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. As the similar sounding names may infer, THC is also a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. 

Both compounds are found in marijuana and hemp. However, marijuana contains much more THC than hemp does, and hemp contains more CBD than marijuana. That’s why CBD is often sourced from hemp plants. 

Similarities between THC and CBD

Both CBD and THC affect human’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating many functions and processes of the body and essentially helping it maintain homeostasis. That’s a fancy way of saying that it really just keeps everything in check. 

Because both compounds influence the endocannabinoid system, this means they interact with receptors that release neurotransmitters in your brain. And while it sounds complicated, it’s quite simple. If you imagine a lock and key, CBD and THC act as keys and lock into various receptors to release messages to the rest of your body. 

These neurotransmitters can affect everyday feelings and functions such as pain, mood, sleep, and memory.

How do they differ?

Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don't have the same psychoactive properties. 

Let’s start with THC: THC is psychoactive and is known to give users a ‘high’ by binding with receptors that control pain, mood, and appetite. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tetrahydrocannabinol activates the brain’s reward system by signaling the release of dopamine. Dopamine, otherwise known as the “happiness hormone”, plays an important role in regulation of mood and pleasure. By triggering high levels of dopamine, THC can elicit feelings of euphoria in users. It can also stimulate appetite, otherwise known as, the late night munchies. 

In comparison, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t produce the high associated with THC. Instead, CBD supports relief from discomfort associated with inflammation and everyday stressors in healthy individuals. Plus, no munchie cravings.

Overall, Cannabidiol is associated with feelings of well-being, both physically and mentally. In comparison, Tetrahydrocannabinol is linked to feelings of euphoria, because of the specific neurotransmitters being influenced. 

THC vs. CBD for pain 

If you are wondering which compound you should use for pain relief, the answer comes down to the experience you are looking for. 

THC is a good idea for those who want to take their mind off of the pain while also experiencing relief. On the other hand, CBD is recommended to those who want to maintain a clear mind and experience regular mental function alongside pain relief.  

Side effects

While most people do not experience any side effects from CBD, the most common side effects users experience is mild fatigue and drowsiness. 

In comparison, THC has a bit of a different reputation. While having THC in small quantities does not tend to elicit any negative side effects, large amounts of THC can induce: increased heart rate, coordination problems, dry mouth, red eyes, slow reaction time, and memory loss. These side effects are linked to the cannabinoid's psychoactive properties. 

Treatment

Because they are from the same plant, there is of course some overlap between what CBD and THC can help treat or support healthy function of. And while the research on the health and medical benefits is still in the works, here is what we know so far.

THC is believed to be particularly effective in relieving nausea, appetite loss, and insomnia. For these reasons, it has been used to help cancer patients with nausea from chemotherapy, as well as help increase appetite.  

CBD, on the other hand, also has notable anecdotal testimonials. One example is in the exploration of CBD as a form of treatment for seizures and epilepsy. There are some impressive stories and research on how it has helped support these conditions. 

However, with both cannabinoids, there is more research needed to make any definitive conclusions about their effectiveness in treating any of these conditions. 

So whether you go for THC, CBD, or both, we hope you feel that plant-powered relief!

Related Articles