CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis. Up until a few years ago, THC-high strains of cannabis used to be the most common, but in recent times CBD has come in the spotlight of the medical community. Many patients who need a daily dosage of hemp extracts prefer CBD, as it doesn’t mess with their day-to-day functioning.
Why do doctors and researchers seem to prefer cannabidiol in the CBD Vs. THC dispute? Here are the differences between CBD and THC.
CBD Vs. THC: CBD Can’t Get You High
This is main difference between THC and CBD. THC is known as the psychoactive compound in marijuana. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive, so it won’t get you high. While for recreational use THC is desirable, the non-psychoactive trait of CBD makes it a very appealing choice in the treatment of various conditions and diseases. CBD has minimal side effects, and has even been used to treat children suffering with several ailments.
Cannabinoids interact with CB1 receptors, which can be found in the brain and central nervous system. The simple explanation for the psychoactivity of THC is that it binds well with those receptors. THC resembles a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which has a role in activating CB1 receptors. Studies show this neurotransmitter can make you feel hungry and trigger pleasure derived from eating food and other rewarding effects. It also plays a role in motivation, memory and pain. By mimicking this neurotransmitter so well, THC can create the same pleasurable feeling. But it does come at a price: side effects.
In contrast, CBD finds it harder to bind with CB1 receptors, being considered a bad fit and a CB1 antagonist. Instead of directly suppressing or activating CB1 receptors, it works to prevent other cannabinoids such as THC from stimulating those receptors. In short, CBD inhibits the psychoactive effects of THC.
CBD Vs. THC: Anxiety and Memory
When used for recreational purposes, THC can cause anxiety or paranoia in some people. Unlike THC, CBD has a different effect and can even fight the anxiety-inducing effects of THC, protecting you from getting restless.
A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry studied the impact of cannabidiol on memory using 134 subjects. The groups were divided into two groups, who were given cannabis either high or low in CBD content, but steady in THC (the same THC level).
The group who smoked cannabis that was low in CBD showed marked impairment in prose recall, while those using the high CBD cannabis showed no memory impairment.
The study concluded CBD has antagonistic effects on CB1 receptors and attenuate the memory-impairing effects of THC. The study also revealed the low-CBD group had higher rating of anxiety than the high-cannabidiol group.
CBD Vs. THC: Antipsychotic
We have already talked about the non-psychoactive properties of cannabidiol, but this cannabinoid appears to have antipsychotic effects as well. This article found CBD interacts with recently discovered cannabinoid receptors, being an agonist for the 5-HT1A receptor (serotonin). This means CBD it is a great choice for in the treatment of anxiety and psychotic episodes.
CBD reduces the psychosis-like effects of THC, but also regulates the mind-altering activity of THC, and is currently tested as an antipsychotic medicine for those suffering with schizophrenia.
In a study on opioid-resistant cancer pain, an extract that was high in THC with no CBD was found ineffective, while the extract that had both THC and CBD triggered a 30% reduction in pain.
CBD Vs. THC: How They Affect Sleep
It is known that cannabis (marijuana) is commonly used as sleep aid. While THC is the main reason for the sleep-inducing effects of marijuana, CBD appears to promote wakefulness, making cannabidiol a poor alternative as a sleep medicine. Since you can tell, these contrasting effects of THC and CBD may explain why some cannabis strains cause users to feel lightheaded and drowsy, while others deliver increased energy levels.
This study found that CBD increases wakefulness, while THC impairs memory, reduces sleep the time it takes to fall asleep the next day, increases sleepiness and changes mood. CBD appeared to have alerting properties, increasing awake activity during sleep and counteracting the sedative activity of THC. So, this means CBD is the better choice if you are feeling tired all the time, want to exercise, work, drive or spend time with the family, as it doesn’t make you feel sleepy.
CBD Vs. THC: Are They Legal?
Most countries have strict laws regarding marijuana and THC, but the legal status of CBD is not so clear. In the US, CBD is technically illegal, being a Schedule I drug under federal law. However, hemp-derived CBD is legally sold in the U.S., being imported from other countries where growing hemp is legal.
The FDA regards hemp oil as a dietary supplement and not a medication, so CBD is legal when it comes from industrial hemp plants. You don’t need a prescription to legally purchase and consume hemp-derived CBD in any state. Plus, CBD extracted from industrial hemp has virtually no THC, so it’s not possible to get high.
In the U.S., to consume Cannabidiol extracted from medical marijuana, you must live in a state where medical marijuana is legalized.
Why Is CBD More Popular than THC for Medical Purposes?
THC is a cannabinoid that is illegal and comes with immediate and considerable long-term cognitive side effects. These include impaired thinking, altered reasoning, altered decision-making, reduced impulse control and reduced organizing and planning abilities. What’s more, regular THC use is associated with abnormalities in the brain and heart.
CBD does not have the same harmful cognitive–altering properties as THC, effectively fighting the psychoactive effects of THC. Cannabis strains that are high in THC and low in CBD trigger a “stoned” feeling, while plants that are high in CBD and low in THC deliver a minor buzz. When a plant is high in CBD and has no THC, then there are no psychoactive effects to worry about.
CBD is more popular for medical purposes than THC because it offers lower health risks, is more effective and thus a more suitable candidate for medical applications.
If you are prone to anxiety, suffer with psychosis or have poor energy levels, then CBD-rich hemp (or CBD hemp oil) is you best legal alternative. Plus, CBD oil is not addictive.