Cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are two of the roughly 100 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in Cannabis sativa plants. Although there are many varieties of Cannabis sativa plants, the two best-known ones are hemp and marijuana. CBD and THC are both found in marijuana plants, but hemp doesn’t contain traceable amounts of THC.
When humans consume CBD and THC, these chemicals interact with our endocannabinoid system. This series of receptors helps maintain biological harmony in response to environmental changes, regulating processes like sleep, pain, memory, mood, stress levels, and more.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC create different effects based on the type and amount of each chemical consumed. However, there are still many questions about how effective and safe CBD and THC are in treating various conditions.
This lack of research can be attributed to cannabis’ complicated legal history in the U.S. Federal and state governments have begun relaxing laws regulating cannabis, opening the door to more robust research into the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of these chemicals.
Marijuana plants produce potent amounts of both THC and CBD. Meanwhile, in hemp plants, CBD is far more dominant than THC. In fact, in the U.S., in order for hemp to be legal, it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
Both hemp and marijuana plants grow in similar conditions. Currently, all but a handful of states allow hemp cultivation. Although marijuana is grown in the U.S., because it is still illegal at the federal level, growing locations generally remain undisclosed to avoid unwanted trouble with law enforcement.
The key difference between CBD and THC is that THC is a psychoactive substance. It affects how the brain works, and can change or impair mood, awareness, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. When you ingest marijuana, the THC is what makes you feel high.
Technically, CBD also affects how the brain works, although not nearly in such an intense way as THC. When consuming pure, hemp-derived CBD with no THC, users should not experience the kind of high that they would with marijuana.
Preliminary research indicates that these divergent effects are caused by the way the two chemicals interact differently with the endocannabinoid system. There is also evidence that CBD may inhibit THC’s effects on the brain.
Depending on which state you live in, you may have access to products with just CBD, just THC, or a combination of both. The product that’s right for you depends on the other effects you are seeking, or what kind of condition you want to treat.
Although there are plenty of people who use marijuana recreationally specifically to feel high, advocates are raising the profile of CBD and THC as alternative, all-natural remedies for a variety of physical and mental ailments.
Because the two chemicals are closely related, there is some overlap in their effects, but preliminary research has shown that for certain conditions, one or the other may be more effective.
Note: Consult with a physician who knows your health history before using CBD or THC for medicinal or therapeutic uses.
Despite their many uses, CBD and THC aren’t without their possible negative effects. Because they can both react with certain prescription and over-the-counter medications. you should consult your doctor before adding CBD or THC to your health regimen.
Possible negative side effects of CBD include:
Besides making users high, which can impair judgement and motor skills, THC can also induce the following negative effects:
U.S. laws surrounding CBD and THC are complicated, and changing rapidly.
Conversely, marijuana, and therefore THC, is still illegal at the federal level, even though many states have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use.
There are currently only three FDA-approved medications containing CBD or THC — Epidiolex, Cesamet, and Marinol. Otherwise, the FDA does not regulate products containing CBD or THC. Therefore, the onus is on manufacturers to be truthful in their advertising, and customers must do their homework to choose products from trustworthy companies.
CBD and THC users have a few consumption options, some more popular than others.
For CBD, the most common consumption methods include:
THC is most often consumed in the following ways:
|Derived from marijuana plants||Yes||Yes|
|Derived from hemp plants||Yes||No|
|Legal at the federal level||Yes||No|
|Legal at the state level||Yes (certain states)||Yes (certain states)|
|Beneficial for treating insomnia||Yes||No|
|Beneficial for treating anxiety||Yes||No|