Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the world. Famous for its psychoactive effects, marijuana is a variety of the cannabis plant. What few people know is that marijuana is not the only important variety of cannabis. The other is hemp. While media attention focuses mostly on the therapeutic value of marijuana, hemp has its own health benefits, while also avoiding some of marijuana’s biggest disadvantages.
What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana are both of the same genus and species — that is, both are simply kinds of cannabis. However, the two still differ in certain crucial ways. The essential difference is that while marijuana has high levels of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), hemp has low levels of THC and relatively high levels of another cannabinoid, cannabidiol (or CBD). (Cannabinoids are compounds that naturally occur in the cannabis plant.)
It is THC which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. The high for which marijuana is so well-known is a result of the brain’s interaction with THC. While recreational users appreciate the euphoria and altered perception caused by THC, some people find these effects disconcerting and unpleasant. THC can also trigger agitation, paranoia, lethargy, and/or anxiety in some.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is the difference maker
In contrast, CBD’s effects are more therapeutic. Importantly, CBD is not a psychoactive — it won’t make someone get high. While this may be a drawback for recreational users, it’s great for those who are solely interested in CBD’s — and hemp’s — health value.
Research has shown that cannabidiol can benefit sufferers of many different health conditions. One of CBD’s most valuable attributes it that it is an anti-psychotic. Cannabidiol appears to counteract the breakdown of a brain chemical connected to perception of pain, mood, and proper cognitive function. Patients with psychotic symptoms (including schizophrenics) have been treated using CBD, with some promising results.
As an anti-inflammatory, cannabidiol is believed to have neuroprotective properties as well. Research has indicated that the brains of those suffering from degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s can be partially protected by CBD. Many countries have also approved CBD for use in drugs designed to treat spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
Numerous scientific studies have indicated that CBD can treat seizure disorders as well. CBD seems to reduce both the severity and frequency of seizures. Anecdotal evidence and some research has indicated that CBD may be particularly valuable in treating drug-resistant childhood epilepsy.
CBD has also shown some early promise in treating a variety of other conditions. There is some evidence that CBD may have pain-relieving, analgesic properties (though these effects may be due to THC instead). Some early research even points to CBD having anti-tumor effects, including slowed tumor growth. Other limited research indicates that CBD may help treat substance abuse disorders.
CBD can offer relief from a myriad of ailments
Even people without serious medical problems can gain from using CBD. That’s because the natural compound can help relieve stress and anxiety, issues that effect millions of ordinary people. It has been discovered that CBD alleviates some symptoms of anxiety, including elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and social anxiety.
All of this means that hemp can be very valuable to health, a fact which has created new demand for therapeutic hemp. Historically, marijuana strains have been specifically bred to have high THC levels. Hemp, meanwhile, was bred for other, chiefly commercial, purposes. Industrial hemp has been used for making rope, clothing, and textiles, among many other products. However, in light of the recent discovery of the extensive health benefits of cannabidiol, hemp growers have begun to breed cannabis so as to maximize CBD levels.
You can legally get CBD in all 50 states
Fortunately, there are many quality therapeutic hemp products available on the market today. Those interested in benefiting from CBD have a wide variety of different treatment options to choose from. In basic form, almost all CBD products are made with hemp oil extracted from a hemp plant. Capsules or softgels containing hemp oil are available, as are hemp oil tinctures. Edibles containing CBD can also be purchased, as can topical creams and lotions made with hemp oil. Even CBD vaping oils and CBD-infused chewing gum and lozenges have been produced. You can read this recent article we wrote reviewing many of the top Hemp CBD companies that are legally shipping it to all 50 states HERE
Unlike marijuana, which still has a complicated, confusing legal status, hemp is relatively free from legal restrictions. The essential difference is that hemp and hemp products, in contrast to marijuana, are not banned by federal law. While marijuana can sometimes have significant levels of CBD, medical marijuana is still not legal in many locales. This makes hemp products a much better option for people interested in trying CBD.
Cannabidiol’s therapeutic value is clear. Already, research has shown that CBD is able to benefit sufferers of many different conditions and diseases. In light of the important health benefits of CBD and the fact that hemp is both legal and has no psychoactive effects, it is plain that many more people should give hemp and cannabidiol a try.