CBD and THC are two terms you might have heard at least once recently. These are plant compounds that are extracted from the age-old therapeutic plant, cannabis. It is the presence of these compounds along with multiple other chemicals that contribute to the medicinal benefits that cannabis has been offering for ages.
Cannabis does not merely refer to one plant species. Instead, it is a whole plant family that includes plants like marijuana and hemp that have differing percentages of cannabis compounds due to years of selective breeding.
Marijuana plants are rich in THC whereas hemp plants are selectively bred to maximize its CBD levels. In this session, we are making a comparison between CBD and THC.
If you think CBD and THC offer different effects on the body because they have different chemical structures, you are wrong. There is absolutely no difference in the atomic constituents in CBD and THC, as both have 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The only difference you can find is in the arrangement of these atoms within the compounds that accounts for all differences in the resultant effects of CBD and THC.
The compounds offer therapeutic benefits due to their chemical similarities with the body’s endocannabinoids. However, the interaction with the endocannabinoid system works differently in the case of CBD and THC.
The euphoric effect caused by cannabis compounds, especially THC is referred to as a high. A high is undesirable when you use a cannabis product as a therapeutic to treat the health disorders you are suffering from. CBD use cannot cause a high in the users whereas higher levels of THC will cause a high.
The psychoactive effects of THC explain why it remains a Federally Regulated substance in the US while CBD enjoys legal status since 2018. Although the government is not that lenient about the production, sale, and transport of THC products, many states have come up with laws that permit the possession and use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.
The effect that my CBD and THC products create are the key to deciding the legal status of the compounds. Before passing the US Farm Bill in 2018, cannabis plants and their products including CBD and THC were included in the list of Schedule I drugs. Hence regardless of whether the CBD source is marijuana or hemp, cannabidiol was regarded as a Schedule I drug.
But things took a different turn after the US Farm Bill was passed in 2018, which considered hemp and hemp-derived CBD as agricultural products. The Farm bill defines hemp as a cannabis plant or its parts that contained less than 0.3% THC by weight. The 0.3 % mark was selected, for it was a negligibly small quantity and a THC percentage that low cannot cause a high in the users.
However, THC and marijuana are still regarded as Schedule I drugs with all processes from production to use regulated by the Cannabis laws of the state one is in.
Both compounds CBD and THC are derived from cannabis plants but the levels of individual phytochemicals differ according to the plant type. Hemp plants are selectively bred to maximize the cannabidiol levels indicating that its major component will be CBD. The law specifically mentions that hemp CBD that contains not more than 0.3% THC will only be considered legal.
THC is majorly extracted from marijuana, for it contains high THC levels.
CBD has very little side effects indicating that it is safe even if we take it in large quantities. The possible side effects could be due to the interaction between cannabidiol and the medications that the user is taking already.
However higher levels of THC could cause some side effects like:
- Memory loss
- Euphoric effect
- Red eyes
- Coordination troubles
- Dry mouth
- Slower response times
- Increased heart rate
When taken in ideal doses, neither CBD nor THC can cause long-lasting side effects. However, taking large doses of THC on a daily basis can cause some adverse effects, especially in teenagers.
When To Use CBD?
Being a therapeutic compound derived exclusively from plant sources, CBD can be used to treat multiple physical and mental health disorders. Here is a list of some of the health issues that can be handled better with CBD usage.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) results from the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that is permeable to water and nutrients and impermeable to harmful pathogens and compounds in normal circumstances. However, inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract will lead to the erroneous absorption of harmful substances leading to inflammatory bowel disease, which manifests itself in the form of symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, etc.
Some studies have suggested that CBD can be used to effectively treat IBD, as it can reduce the permeability of the gastrointestinal tract to block the entry of harmful components through delicate membranes of the tract.
A seizure is the most common symptom of diseases like epilepsy. FDA has approved the use of Epidolex, a CBD medication that can be used to treat two common types of epileptic disorder, Dravet syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
The clinical trials that study the effectiveness of Epidolex involved human participants. Some participants were treated with Epidolex while some were given the placebo. The results of treatment that were conducted for 6 months and one-year durations suggested that Epidolex caused a significant reduction in the seizure symptoms of epileptic disorders.
Low mood that doesn’t improve even after weeks and months are generally termed as depression. Depression can be triggered by distressing events in personal lives and sometimes may surface even without any external triggers.
Low serotonin levels are the most commonly reported cause of depression. The positive effect that CBD has on the serotonin receptors in the brain explains how it is beneficial in handling depression. Instead of binding to the serotonin receptors directly, CBD influences the way the chemical receptors in the brain respond to the already existing serotonin levels in the system.
The normal biological response generated by the immune system against the entry of intruders like pathogens and other foreign substances. Our body initiates an inflammatory response through signaling molecules called eicosanoids. Research suggests that one among the possible ways in which CBD generates anti-inflammatory response is by inhibiting, COX2, an eicosanoid enzyme. Common anti-inflammatory medications like Aspirin and Advil to target the eicosanoid enzyme to initiate an anti-inflammatory response.
CBD influences the release of proinflammatory cytokines contributing to inflammation relief.
Individuals with psychosis experience things that do not exist in reality. Delusions and hallucinations are common events during psychosis. A study that investigated the potential of CBD to handle psychosis found that it can reduce the symptoms of psychosis by offering better coordination of activity in the hippocampus and striatum, the parts of the brain.
Recurring headaches of high severity are referred to as migraines. Several symptoms often precede or accompany migraines. The pain caused by migraines might last a few days and even weeks. Nausea and vomiting symptoms often accompany migraines. CBD can effectively control nausea and vomiting symptoms due to its anti-emetic properties.
When To Use THC?
The properties of THC make it an excellent medication that can treat the following disorders.
The damage of the optic nerve over time leading to slow loss of peripheral vision ultimately causing blindness is termed as glaucoma. One of the major causes of optic nerve damage is the rise of eye pressure above the normal level.
THC helps in glaucoma treatment with its ability to reduce intraocular pressure.
Spontaneous and involuntary contraction of muscles is termed as a muscle spasm. Acute muscle spasms aren’t taken that seriously because it is resulted by stressed muscles due to overuse, calcium and magnesium deficiencies, etc. The spasms usually disappear when we take appropriate remedies like giving the muscles enough rest, ensuring that the body has adequate calcium and magnesium levels, etc.
Recurring muscle spasms that one has to experience on a daily basis is an indication of serious underlying conditions. Some studies have found that THC containing cannabis formulations have the potential to treat muscle spasms that are symptoms of various diseases like multiple sclerosis.
The efficiency of cannabis drugs to induce sleep has been known since ages and the knowledge has several applications in modern medicine. Therapeutics containing THC is known to solve sleep troubles like insomnia due to the sleep-inducing effects of the compound. A 2008 study suggests that ingesting cannabis strains with higher THC levels will contribute to reducing the amount of REM sleep. Low REM sleep levels indicate that the frequency of dreaming while asleep is less.
Lower the dreaming frequency, the better is the sleep you get.
There can be multiple causes of appetite loss. People suffering from cancer and HIV related anorexia experience loss of appetite that causes further affects their health and well being. In some cases, particular medication taken to treat a health disorder could cause nausea and vomiting that puts off the urge to eat. Cannabis medications that have significant THC content are known to have appetite boosting ability.
When our stomach is full, the body produces a chemical called leptin that has the ability to suppress hunger. If the level of leptin is high, you won’t feel hungry.THC has the ability to suppress the production of leptin directly contributing to the increase of appetite.
In order to figure out the full potential of CBD and THC, more research and human studies are quintessential. The therapeutic benefits known to date have already made the compounds quite popular in the therapeutic market.