CBD vs THC: Their Key Difference Easily Explained
CBD vs THC: Learn the key difference and why its so important.
As conversations about the potential benefits of medical marijuana have entered the mainstream, more and more people have become familiar with the terms CBD and THC. But there are still a lot of misunderstandings about these two compounds.
Both CBD and THC are derived from cannabis (or marijuana) or hemp plants, which has led many people to think they have a similar effect on the human brain and body. In reality, CBD and THC are two distinct compounds. While they belong to the same category of compounds and influence the same large-scale system in human bodies, they operate in different ways. This means they yield different bodily effects, benefits, and side effects.
Most notably, CBD doesn’t get you “high,” while THC is responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. This is a crucial distinction—because without it, many people might write off CBD even though it can provide a ton of benefits without any mind-altering effects.
Far from being one and the same, CBD and THC have a lot of differences. Here’s a breakdown of what these two compounds are and how they operate in the body, plus an overview of how CBD can provide a number of benefits without notable side effects (or wanting to watch Alice in Wonderland).
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring compound that is found in hemp and cannabis plants. It’s part of a category of more than 100 compounds referred to as cannabinoids.
When humans use CBD, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate the nervous system, the immune system, the organs, memory, sleep, and mood. Researchers are still working to understand exactly how CBD impacts the human endocannabinoid system, but so far they believe it increases the body’s levels of endocannabinoids (thereby contributing to far-ranging effects throughout the body’s immune and nervous systems) and interacts with the body’s serotonin receptors. Because it influences the endocannabinoid system, CBD can have indirect but notable effects throughout the entire body.
As noted above, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that even cannabis-derived CBD will not cause the “high” that’s famously associated with marijuana. Because it doesn’t produce a high, CBD is legal in more states than THC. For this reason, CBD supplements are much more available than products containing THC.
While many CBD supplements are derived from hemp, CBD oil is not the same thing as hemp oil or hemp seed oil (though it may be contained in hemp oil). Here’s how each of these oils differ from each other:
- CBD is a cannabinoid derived from hemp plants or cannabis plants. It may be isolated or found in hemp oil
- Hemp oil is an extract from the whole hemp plant that contains CBD and other cannabinoids. It’s a broad-spectrum way to obtain CBD (as opposed to utilizing it in isolation). This has shown to maximize the benefits derived from using CBD
- Hemp seed oil is made from the sterilized seeds of a hemp plant and is often utilized in cooking
THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol. Like CBD, THC is one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
Unlike CBD, TCH is psychoactive. In fact, it’s the main reason that people who use recreational or medical marijuana experience a “high.” It’s thought to mimic some of the body’s natural neurotransmitters by binding with CB1 receptors and stimulating their activity in the body’s endocannabinoid system. This mechanism helps explain why THC provokes a “high.” (In contrast, CBD does not stimulate the activity of these receptors.) The neurotransmitters that THC mimics also play a role in regulating eating, pain, sleep, and a variety of other bodily functions.
Both CBD and THC consist of the same atoms, but the atoms in THC are arranged slightly differently than the atoms in CBD. This helps explain why the two cannabinoids influence the body in different ways and why THC causes a “high” while CBD does not.
While CBD and THC both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, they do so in different ways (as described above). This means they have different effects on the human brain and body.
Because CBD doesn’t get you high, it doesn’t have many noticeable sensations. Rather, it’s more likely to produce the absence of certain negative sensations such as anxiety or pain. Here are some of the most common effects that people experience while using CBD:
- Improved mood and anxiety relief
- Pain relief
And here are some of the most common effects of using THC:
- Relaxation and possibly tiredness
- Slight changes in the senses (e.g. hearing, seeing, and smelling)
- Decrease in aggression
In states where recreational and/or medical marijuana is legal, many people will utilize products that contain both CBD and THC. There’s some evidence that using these two cannabinoids together enhances both of their effects (although taking CBD along with THC may lessen the “high” associated with THC).
You can also get this effect when combining CBD with other important cannabidiols. This phenomenon is referred to as the “entourage effect” and why CBD isolates aren’t as effect as a full-spectrum product. It’s similar to the idea that eating a whole carrot—which contains hundreds of synergistic compounds—is more nutritionally effective than eating isolated vitamins in supplement form.
Because marijuana was illegal for so long (and still is in many states), research into the benefits of CBD and THC is still in the early stages. But so far, studies suggest these cannabinoids might yield a variety of benefits.
For example, there’s some evidence that CBD might help to:
- Relieve pain, including in the case of arthritis and other chronic pain conditions
- Reduce anxiety
- Decrease inflammation throughout the body
- Offer antioxidant effects throughout the body
- Manage depression, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Facilitate substance abuse recovery
- Boost heart health
- Alleviate menstrual cramps
- Improve skin health (by, for example, reducing acne or improving psoriasis)
- Enhance sleep quality
- Improve cognitive health and assist in the management of neurological conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
- Offer relief from cancer treatment side effects
- Protect against diabetes
Meanwhile, THC has been linked to the following potential benefits:
- Assisting in the management of serious health conditions including multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal injuries (by reducing tremors), and cancer (by, for example, easing the side effects of chemotherapy or improving appetite)
- Relieving nausea and vomiting
- Offering pain relief, especially in the case of chronic pain
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving digestive health
- Managing insomnia
As noted above, the entourage effect suggests these benefits are likely to be enhanced by taking THC and CBD together. For this reason, nearly all THC-containing products also contain CBD. Nevertheless, CBD products that don’t contain THC are still thought to yield the same benefits as CBD combined with THC, even if at a slightly lower intensity.
While both CBD and THC are generally considered safe and are both non-fatal no matter how much is consumed, introducing substances into your body always comes with the potential for side effects. Because CBD and THC have different impacts on the brain and body, their potential side effects also differ a bit.
For example, CBD is unlikely to cause any side effects. In rare cases, it may result in changes in appetite, fatigue, irritability, or nausea. It may also interact with certain medications, so it’s a good idea to consult your doctor prior to using CBD if you’re already on prescription meds.
Meanwhile, THC may provoke some temporary side effects, which include:
- Delayed reaction times
- Dry mouth
- Impaired memory
- Issues with coordination
- Increased heart rate
- Red eyes
Additionally, smoking marijuana in order to utilize THC may result in respiratory issues.
Both CBD and THC can be utilized in a variety of forms.
For example, CBD can be found in a range of products including tinctures, capsules, under-the-tongue (aka “sublingual”) sprays, beverages, vape pens, foods or candies, topical lotions and salves, and, of course, good ‘ol marijuana.
Similarly, in states where THC is legal, it may be sold in foods and candies, tinctures, sublingual sprays, vaporizing pens, or in the form of dried marijuana plants (for instance, what you might find in a joint).
CBD and THC can come from the same plant, belong to the same category of compounds, and affect the same system in the human body. But most of the similarities stop there.
While THC may offer some distinct benefits, it currently remains illegal in many states and produces a “high” that may not be desirable to all users. Meanwhile, CBD offers gentle and effective relief from a wide range of conditions without any psychoactive effects. And hemp-derived CBD is legal nearly everywhere in the U.S. This makes it an accessible, gentle, and natural product that is devoid of the nasty side effects that come along with many prescription drugs.
This helps explain why more and more people are turning to CBD supplements as one tool for managing conditions including anxiety, depression, and aches and pains and bolstering heart, brain, and skin health (among other benefits). But because CBD is only just becoming popular, the world of CBD supplements is still a bit like the Wild West.
That means it’s important to seek out high-quality products from brands you trust. Our broad-spectrum, natural, hemp-derived CBD oil is USA-made from seed to bottle and offers maximum bioavailability without the use of potentially harmful fillers or chemicals. Every batch is third-party tested for purity, quality, and the absence of toxins. They are also guaranteed to be 100% THC free.
There are too many low-quality supplements masquerading as health elixirs, and we’re on a mission to be the antidote to all that noise. Our CBD oil eliminates any worries about quality so you can enjoy the many natural benefits CBD has to offer.