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What is the difference between CBD and THC? [Explained]

June 28, 2018

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What is the difference between CBD and THC?

People have been medicating with cannabis plants for thousands of years. In fact, they are one humanities oldest cultivated plants. Despite this, it is only relatively recently that we have begun to understand the science behind the effects of cannabis. It turns out that cannabis has over 400 different constituents within the plant which all combine to give the multitude of effects that administering marijuana has.

The compounds that have the most effect are called cannabinoids and they work on a system within our bodies we call the endocannabinoid system. Despite there being so many different ingredients at work in cannabis, research has identified the main two cannabinoids – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Science suggests these are the two main active ingredients which give cannabis the majority of its effects and they are the two ingredients which occur in the largest volume too.

If you have looked into the effects of cannabis or how medical marijuana-based products can be helpful, you will no doubt have come across these two abbreviations a lot and may be confused about them. What do they do? What is the difference between the two? Is one bad for you and the other good? If you have wondered about any of this, then this article is here to help. We will look a little closer at how cannabis works on the body and spell out the differences you need to know about CBD and THC. Read on for more information….

How does cannabis work on the body?

Humans have used cannabis as medicine for at least six thousand years, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that research showed us why the plant has so many different effects within the body. What scientists discovered is that our body naturally produces a family of chemicals very similar to the active ingredients in cannabis. We call these naturally occurring chemicals endocannabinoids and the active ingredients in the cannabinoids in cannabis. Endocannabinoids play a key role in moderating many of our body’s processes, including immunity, inflammation, appetite and pain sensation. They circulate within our bloodstream and have their effect by binding to what we call our cannabinoid receptors.

So far, we have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are most commonly found within the brain and nerve endings in high concentrations. They are also found in smaller amounts within the kidneys, lungs and liver. CB2 receptors are found mainly on blood-forming cells and immune system cells. The cannabinoids in cannabis work in a very similar way to our naturally occurring endocannabinoids – they bind to our CB1 and CB2 receptors, causing them to activate or inactivate. It should be noted that cannabis does cause this to be done at much higher levels than what naturally occurs within the body.

The main two cannabinoids are known as THC and CBD. Each work upon the body in a different way, giving them different effects. Unique strains of cannabis, and even different harvests of the same strain, have their own individual combinations of cannabinoids, which may cause different effects. By researching the differences in effects, patients and doctors can select the best genetic makeup of cannabis to treat each individual’s unique symptoms. As well as THC and CBD, there are also many minor cannabinoids at work in cannabis. These are believed to also interact with your endocannabinoid system, creating an “entourage” effect that is stronger than using a synthetic preparation, which is why it is preferable to use cannabis plants for medical purposes as opposed to trying to recreate THC or CBD synthetically.

What is THC?

THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. It is one of two main active ingredients in cannabis, along with CBD, and is the most common cannabinoid. It is the main ingredient responsible for cannabis’ psychoactive properties. When you ingest cannabis, THC enters the bloodstream where it travels to the brain. Here, it binds with your CB1 receptors. The result of this is a change in the amounts of different neurotransmitters released from the neurons, including the likes of norepinephrine and dopamine. This is what causes cannabis’ psychoactive effects, such as increased hunger and euphoria. It also causes analgesic pain relief.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is the other main active ingredient in cannabis, along with THC. It is the second most common cannabinoid found in cannabis after THC. It works in a different way to THC in that it has little to no binding affinity with the CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, CBD’s effects come from reducing the breakdown of the naturally produced endocannabinoids in the body. This indirectly increases their amount, which increases their activity at the receptors. CBD has been shown to work well as a treatment against a range of different disorders including inflammation, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, nausea, epilepsy, neuropathic pain and autoimmune diseases. It may also help with the reduction of blood sugar levels, seizures and in suppressing muscle spasms.

Interestingly, CBD also suppresses the effects of THC on the CB1 receptors, which mutes THC’s psychoactive effects when the two are ingested in tandem.

What are the differences between THC and CBD?

Hopefully, the differences are clear to see from the above sections. In short, the main differences are that THC gives cannabis its psychoactive effects by working on the CB1 receptor. CBD works on both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, has no psychoactive effects and has been shown to be an effective treatment against a number of different medical conditions. As THC is what gives cannabis users the “stoned” sensation, the legality of a cannabis product is determined by its THC levels. If the product contains less amounts of THC, it will be legal. The vast majority of CBD-based treatments are made using hemp cannabis, which has only very small levels of THC. This ensures they can be legal, but always check that the company has had their products’ THC levels tested by a reputable third-party laboratory. This ensures not only the legality but also the safety of the products.

The legal status of THC does not necessarily mean it is bad for you though. Research suggests THC could be a helpful treatment for a number of conditions because it appears to be a powerful painkiller, a muscle relaxant, antispasmodic and an antioxidant amongst other things. There is also evidence to suggest it could be effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. Further research is needed into this however, and it does seem that it would not be possible to get the positive benefits without the psychoactive, “stoned” side effects. If you are looking to avoid the “high” sensation from your medical cannabis, or cannabis is not legal within your area, you would be advised to look into CBD-based products.

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Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Miller, age 53 is an Ex Railyard Engineer who suffers from chronic back pain and anxiety. Jonathan's goal was to create an unbiased site that would provide anyone who seeks help in CBD oil as a treatment, with accurate and helpful information.
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Getting Started with CBD Oil

If you suffer from anxiety (like me), depression or pain and are looking to get started with CBD oil, you need information on how to buy CBD oil, or you’re simply looking to learn more about CBD products, you’ve arrived at the right place.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has significant medical benefits. CBD can be extracted from two different species of the Cannabis Sativa L plant, which include Cannabis and Hemp. Unlike its rival THC, CBD does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC.

One of the main advantages of CBD is its non-psychoactive affect making it a great option for people looking for relief from inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, spasms, and other conditions.
 
As I mentioned above the primary distinction between Hemp and CBD oil is the part of the plant they are derived from and what parts of the plant are used to create the oil. Hemp oil is typically made from pressing cannabis seeds to extract the fatty oil from within, while some that have mastered the CBD extraction process also use the flowers as they contain high percentages of CBD. CBD oil, on the other hand, is usually made from the flowers of cannabis plant through various extraction methods.

How Does CBD Affect Your Body?

The way marijuana affects your body varies from person to person as it will often depend on genetics, tolerance to the cannabinoids, medical health, DNA, and more. It also depends on the way you consume the CBD, for example, the effects of vaping CBD are far different to smoking it in the form of high-CBD cannabis strains. 

CBD and the way it affects us is still of somewhat a mystery to researchers they still try to figure out how it effects the EndoCannabinoid system. During the previous century, it was discovered that our bodies have receptors within the brain and central nervous system. Specific cannabinoids such as CBD bind to those receptors and activate the EndoCannabinoid System (ECS). This then provides a wide range of psychological and physical benefits helping the body.

Without going into specifics, cannabinoids signal to the body to create endocannabinoids and build more receptors. This helps the body to limit things associated with pain and inflammation, repairs cells and provides a wide range of other health benefits. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD is thought to be the ultimate anti-inflammatory cannabinoid.

Want to learn more about how CBD works read: How Long Does it Take CBD to Work

Medical Benefits of CBD

There is a misconception as to whether CBD can help treat patients, similar to pharmaceutical medicine, but thanks to the internet and a few different medical studies patients and researchers have been exposing their findings on how CBD oil is helping to cure a wide range of medical conditions.

The most popular story was the one of Charlotte Figi. At the time Charlotte was only 6 years old. As a little girl, she was experiencing over 300 epileptic seizures per week until she was successfully treated by a CBD-rich strain oil, later named Charlotte’s Web.

The high-quality CBD oil, changed her life, helping her to overcome a 6-year battle. Since her story hit the news, CBD and other cannabinoids of the cannabis plant are constantly being researched to understand how they can help to treat different medical conditions. As a matter of fact, CBD has been thought to help treat over 170 medical conditions, among them severe conditions such as Anorexia, Cancer, Arthritis, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Insomnia, Glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and PTSD.

Recent studies have even shown that CBD, may cure life-threatening diseases by altering genes. Other studies have proven that it might even be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

The way that CBD works is that it interacts with receptors located in different parts of the central nervous system. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. Both reflect the areas of the brain they interact with such as the limbic system. When taking CBD, this cannabinoid locks in on these receptors and affects the body in different ways. For example, it can help to block the pain caused by specific medical conditions.

While numerous studies have shown promising results, it is important to understand that CBD research is still at premature stages. A 2011 study that researched CBD for fibromyalgia showed extremely promising results. 56 of 112 participants who took CBD in the form of oil saw a great reduction in their symptoms and pain, while those using traditional methods didn’t see hardly any improvement.

Can you Buy CBD if you live in an illegal state?

The process is not cut-&-dry, and but thanks to the Farm Bill of 2014, forms of CBD can now be delivered to your doorstep. Those that live in recreational states can purchase CBD cannabis oil which is high in potency and extremely effective for helping to treat severe medical conditions, while those that live in other states that are not medical or recreational can benefit from CBD hemp oil. CBD Hemp oil is perfect for helping to treat a wide range of conditions including anxiety, depression and acute pain. 

Who is NaturalWellNessCBDOil?

My name is Jonathan, and I’ve created this loving resource that is packed with information about CBD oil. I am growing a community on Facebook and are constantly engaging with different people to help them make more informed decisions. I review products on a daily basis and provide unbiased reviews about some of the top CBD oil manufacturers. All the information on the site is FREE; I only ask that you help to share the information you find on the site with other people that are suffering. 

To your health and happiness.