CBD and THC are both cannabinoids found in cannabis, although it’s not commonly known what the difference is between the two. Whilst CBD and THC are similar in a few ways, they differ in many others. In this blog, we assess both CBD and THC to work out the effects each compound will have on your mind and body, and how they can be used to your advantage.
CBD vs THC
Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids – naturally occurring chemical compounds that are found in the hundreds in cannabis – that act on pre-existing cannabinoid receptors in the body. Interestingly, CBD and THC are made up of the same parts: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. All that differs between the two is how they’re structured.
The slight difference in the structure of these two different cannabinoids that separates them also accounts for their hugely varying effects on humans.
Because of the variance in their chemical structure, CBD and THC have different effects on the body and mind. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that activates the cannabinoid receptors in our brains. The effects of these receptors being stimulated by increased levels of THC include increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex and an increased sense of reward. This is what makes users of cannabis feel ‘high’.
CBD doesn’t get you high, but its unique properties are just as interesting as THC’s. When the CBD reaches the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, it actually has the opposite effect to THC – dampening psychoactive activity. It’s because of this psychoactive suppressing quality that CBD can have calming and anti-stress effects, and it’s also thought to have neuroprotective, anti-tumour, and anti-anxiety effects.
Different strains of cannabis have different levels of CBD or THC, meaning that some strains have the potential to make you feel anxious, whilst some have the potential to make you completely calm.
CBD is building traction as a more legitimate medicinal substance and a range of products are now commercially available including CBD e-liquid, CBD oil, and edibles, meaning the options for CBD consumption are broad. CBD is currently being used in the treatment of illnesses including migraines, nausea, MS, arthritis, and insomnia, among others.
The main active element of recreational cannabis is THC, so the main reason that people use it is for its relaxing or psychoactive effects. Individuals who use cannabis recreationally often report on the substance’s pain relief qualities, and THC is used across the world for its anti-nausea properties.
CBD is legal and can now be prescribed by doctors under UK law. CBD oil that is produced in the UK must have a maximum THC content of 0.2% to ensure that it is not psychoactive.
Under UK law, THC is currently illegal in its most popular form: cannabis is a class B drug with up to 5 years in prison as a penalty for possession. Legalisation of the drug for both medicinal and recreational purposes is, however, spreading across the USA, and Canada has recently legalised it. Portugal, the Netherlands and Spain also have a liberal approach to personal use of cannabis.