If you’re new to the world of cannabis-based medicine, you may be wondering about some of the terminology used to discuss it. Two of the most commonly used terms when discussing cannabis products and their effects are “CBD” and “THC.” Both of these are cannabinoids, the active ingredients found in cannabis. However, THC and CBD are different chemical compounds with very different results.
THC and CBD: Two Powerful Cannabinoids
Both THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids, chemical components found in the cannabis plant. These phytocannabinoids act upon receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which exists naturally in the human body and usually responds to endocannabinoids made by the body itself. At least 113 different phytocannabinoids have been isolated in the cannabis plant, each with its own effects.
Traditionally, the cannabis plant has been cultivated to produce flowers that are high in THC and low in CBD. The hemp plant, on the other hand, is usually higher in CBD and very low in THC content. Deciding which cannabinoid is best for you will depend on the results you are looking for.
What Is THC?
THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid that most people are already familiar with. First isolated in 1964, THC is responsible for the “high” commonly associated with marijuana. It is also responsible for marijuana’s most frequently sighted effects, both good and bad.
On the positive side, THC is capable of treating pain and inducing euphoria. Cannabis or medical marijuana with high levels of THC often causes relaxation and induces a happy, cheerful mood. It’s also useful for increasing appetite, making it a good choice for patients who are struggling to put on weight. In low doses, it may cause an increase in energy
The downsides to THC are also familiar from old marijuana stereotypes: anxiety, dry mouth, altered perceptions, memory problems, and a lack of energy. Some people even experience severe paranoia from using high-THC cannabis. These potential negative side effects can be limited by choosing an appropriate strain for a patient’s medical needs, as well as by adding CBD to the treatment, as it counterbalances the extremes of THC.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects and does not cause a “high.” Instead, CBD is most frequently prescribed to patients with medical difficulties who want to avoid any mind-altering effects.
Unlike THC, which may increase anxiety, cannabidiol is often prescribed to treat anxiety. Multiple scientific studies show that CBD decreases social anxiety, alleviates many of the symptoms of anxiety, and helps people better deal with anxiety-related stress. Similarly, while THC increases the appetite, CBD can act as an appetite suppressant and may even be useful for weight loss.
CBD is also a medical superstar, thanks in part to its proven anti-inflammatory properties. Patients suffering from autoimmune disorders, including Celiac disease, lupus, type 1 diabetes, and IBS, can benefit from CBD, as it works to reduce inflammation throughout the body. And, of course, CBD can be a godsend for people with arthritis, as it reduces inflammation in affected joints.
While there are potential downsides to using CBD, these can be mitigated by choosing the right dosage and application method. Too much CBD can cause sleepiness, although sometimes that’s exactly what the patient is looking for. Also, smoking high-CBD cannabis can cause lung damage, just like smoking anything. Using CBD in an edible or topical form, such as CBD oil, eliminates this risk.
CBD or THC: What’s Right for Me?
If you’re looking to get the psychoactive effects of cannabis, THC is what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that THC is currently legal in only a few states and its possession is still considered a federal crime. In other states, THC-based medicine can be prescribed by a physician. Some cancer patients, for example, may be prescribed cannabis with THC to increase their appetite and reduce pain.
If you’re looking to improve your health and well-being legally, without getting high, CBD is the appropriate option. Cannabidiol benefits people suffering from anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, depression, and other common ailments. There’s even emerging evidence that cannabidiol can shrink cancerous tumors in some patients.
Is CBD Safe to Use?
Unlike THC, CBD derived from the hemp plant is both legal and safe, as long as it is ingested or applied correctly. While cannabis has been traditionally consumed by smoking, this is the least effective and most dangerous method of consuming cannabis-based medicine. Smoking anything causes lung damage, even in the case of otherwise healthy medicine. Instead, patients should take CBD either orally or topically. CBD oils can be applied directly to areas afflicted by inflammation or pain. They can also be added to food or drink or consumed directly.
CBD works for people of all ages. Although you should always consult your doctor before starting a new treatment and should not drive after using CBD until you are sure about its effects, there is no evidence that CBD has any dangerous interactions with other medicines. It is impossible to overdose on CBD and there are few negative side effects apart from possible sleepiness. For health treatments, CBD is the right choice.