- What Is the Difference Between THC and CBD?
- What is THC?
- What Are the Natural Benefits of THC?
- What is CBD?
- What Are the Medical Benefits of CBD?
- CBD vs. THC for Pain
- What Is the Entourage Effect?
- Learn More About CBD
- Complete Guide to CBD Topicals
- CBD Edibles vs. Capsules: Which Is Better?
- How Does CBD Oil Impact Cellular Function?
- A Mysterious Syndrome: What Is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)?
- Industrial Hemp vs. High-CBD Marijuana: What It Means for Your CBD
- Can CBD Oil Help Resolve the Opioid Crisis?
- The Complete Guide to Cannabinoids
- What Is CBG?
- How Long Does CBD Last?
- CBD vs. Medical Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
- What’s the Difference Between CBD, THC, Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp?
- What is CBD?
- How are CBD oils consumed?
- Why do people use cannabis oil?
- Why medical experts are hesitant about CBD
- What consumers should know
What Is the Difference Between THC and CBD?
THC and CBD share some similarities, but there are key differences that make CBD a viable therapeutic option where THC may not be acceptable.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant, most commonly known as cannabis.
Both of these substances interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body and brain, but they differed dramatically in their effects.
CBD is non-psychoactive which means that it will not get the user high. Because of this trait, CBD appears more frequently than THC in dietary and natural supplements.
Read also: What is CBD?
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What is THC?
THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. In other words, THC is the primary agent responsible for creating the ‘high’ associated with recreational cannabis use.
This compound works, in part, by mimicking the effects of anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters are produced naturally by the human body and help to modulate sleeping and eating habits, the perception of pain, and countless other bodily functions.
The effects of THC include:
- Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing
- Reduced aggression
What Are the Natural Benefits of THC?
Research studies indicate that THC may useful in helping with:
- Side Effects of Chemotherapy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal injury: Lessen tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chronic pain
- Digestive health
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of the most critical cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant. It exists both in agricultural hemp, as well as medical cannabis. While cannabinoids are present within several plants in nature, cannabis is the only plant known to contain CBD.
CBD has the same chemical formula as THC, with the atoms in a different arrangement.
This slight variance causes THC to create a psychoactive effect, while CBD does not. This fact means that when you ingest CBD for medical purposes, you will more likely experience a relief of your unwanted discomfort, with little or no noticeable effect on your cognitive abilities.
What Are the Medical Benefits of CBD?
Research studies indicate that CBD may be useful in helping with:
- Pain (neuropathic, chronic, cancer-related, etc.)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Broken Bones
- Mad Cow Disease
- Bacterial Infections
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Substance Abuse/Withdrawal
- Heart Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
CBD vs. THC for Pain
Research suggests CBD may be better for inflammation and neuropathic pain, while THC may excel with spasticity and cramp-related pain.
It is worth noting that sometimes high doses of THC can exacerbate pain symptoms. Meaning THC consumed in this capacity should be done in small amounts.
Additionally, many individuals experience difficulty managing the side effects associated with THC, rendering useless any potential benefits.
Some experts suggest that a combination of THC and CBD is the ideal way to approach pain, giving validity to something known as the entourage effect.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect describes a phenomenon in which the 400+ compounds in cannabis work together to create a particular effect on the body.
For example, 100mg of isolated CBD may be substantially less effective at alleviating symptoms than 100mgs of a whole-plant, CBD-containing cannabis extract. Many argue that consuming the plant in its whole form provides all the necessary cofactors to facilitate proper absorption.
This argument is at the heart of the debate over CBD oil from hemp vs. CBD oil from cannabis.
While it may be cheaper and more cost-effective to extract CBD from industrial hemp, users may ultimately experience less benefit due to the absence of clinically significant levels of terpenes and other compounds (which occur in abundance in high-CBD marijuana).
While high-CBD cultivars of cannabis do contain much higher levels of various cannabinoids, terpenes, etc., it does not mean that there aren’t potential drawbacks to its use.
Agricultural hemp is much closer to the kind of cannabis that one would find growing naturally in the wild, whereas high-CBD marijuana is hybridized and toyed with by growers to produce the highest levels of the desirable compounds.
There is no hard science (yet!) when it comes to the theory of the entourage effect theory. It is up to each individual to decide which option is best for them.
THC is an illegal drug with considerable immediate and long-term cognitive side effects. These include impaired thinking and reasoning, a reduced ability to plan and organize, altered decision-making, and reduced control over impulses.
Also, chronic use of THC correlates with significant abnormalities in the heart and brain.
CBD lacks the harmful cognitive effects of THC. In fact, CBD can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabis plants containing small amounts of CBD and high levels of THC result in a stronger ‘stoned’ feeling, while plants with more CBD and less THC create a weaker, more relaxed, effect.
Given the increasing popularity of medical cannabis, breeders are currently creating strains with higher CBD to THC ratios to minimize the psychoactive side effects.
Overall, the lower health risks of CBD, combined with its efficacy, make it a better candidate for natural applications than THC.
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Marijuana, as with other medications, is composed of chemical compounds that create the medicinal effects sought by patients. The most famous compound found in cannabis (marijuana) is THC. THC was identified by researchers in the 1960’s which led to the discovery of what scientists now call the EndoCannabinoid System. Our bodies produce endogenous cannabinoids which play a key role in brain functions like memory, mood and our reward system as well as functions of our immune system. Our bodies have a natural network that responds to the compounds found in marijuana plants, phytocannabinoids, like THC. Many different cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plants. There are at least 85 common cannabinoids in marijuana.
- THC (tetrahydocannabinol) is the best known cannabinoid. As the primary psychoactive compound, it is responsible for the effect most patients are familiar with.
- CBD (cannabidiol) is the second most prominent compound found in the cannabis plant. Many of the medical benefits of cannabis are attributed to the CBD content of the medicine. It has been found to have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsive properties.
By focusing on plant genetics, marijuana can be grown to be richer in THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, thereby impacting the medicinal effects. A greater understanding of the difference in genetics of Cannabis, including the respective contents of THC and CBD, and plant types such as indica or sativa, allows growers and patients to select strain types that will give them very specific effects. For example, Blue Dream, a popular hybrid strain, contains the following propositions of cannabinoids.A strain fingerprint of cannabinoids found in Blue Dream, compiled by Steep Hill Labs. As Patriot Care begins to share our menu, we will include the THC and CBD contents where appropriate, to assist our patients in making educated decisions to best treat their conditions. Please stay tuned to our blog for additional blogs about the science of medical marijuana.
CBD vs. Medical Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
Once cannabis became recognized and even recommended as a medical remedy for certain ailments, it opened up the world of weed to a whole new group of people. As a result, people who may benefit from the possible therapeutic effects of cannabis-derived products are suddenly trying to learn the lingo.
Two cannabis terms that are commonly confused are CBD and medical marijuana. As CBD became more popular within the last decade (or even just the last few years), many people wondered if it was just another type of medical marijuana. However, these two items are quite different: They are made differently, used differently, and cause different effects.
Medical marijuana is the same as recreational marijuana—just used for medical purposes. It comes from the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It’s traditionally smoked, but it can also be eaten (via “edibles”) or inhaled through pens, bowls, or bongs.
Medical marijuana, like recreational marijuana, contains a high ratio of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is one of over 100 active compounds (called a cannabinoids) found in cannabis. Cannabinoids interact with receptors in the body to alter the normal neurotransmission and cause effects on the body. (Not sure what these terms mean? Check out this guide to cannabis lingo.)
THC is famous because it creates the most well-known effects of cannabis, including a euphoric “high,” impaired memory, loss of coordination, slower speech, and altered sense of time. But notably, THC also creates medicinal effects, such as reducing nausea and chronic pain.
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is actually another type of cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. It interacts with different receptors than THC does, so it causes different effects. For example, CBD doesn’t cause a high.
Usually, cannabis strains used to make recreational and medical marijuana contain low amounts of CBD. To get CBD products, you must start with a strain of cannabis with a higher amount of CBD, and then extract the CBD compound from the stalks, leaves, and buds of the plant.
Because CBD products are a concentration of the CBD cannabinoid, they contain little to no THC. This is what makes CBD products so different than medical marijuana: The former does not have the psychoactive effects caused by THC. CBD still has medicinal potential, however. So far, researchers believe CBD may be able to reduce pain, inflammation, and anxiety, according to the National Cancer Institute.
CBD products may be a useful alternative for people who want to avoid the psychoactive effects of medical marijuana. For example, the FDA recently approved the first CBD-based medication as a treatment for a type of epilepsy that affects children.
You can take CBD orally using CBD oil, or you can get CBD in the form of waxes, capsules, gummies, or topical creams.
In summary, medical marijuana contains *all* the compounds associated with cannabis (mostly THC and a little CBD), but CBD oil and creams are *only* CBD.
What’s the Difference Between CBD, THC, Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp?
There have been some studies that state otherwise, finding that CBD is effective in treating neuropathic pain (both studies were conducted with cancer patients, and CBD mitigated pain associated with chemotherapy). However, more studies need to be done to say definitively.
The World Health Organization lists several major diseases and conditions CBD can potentially treat, but notes that there is only enough research to prove its efficacy on epilepsy. That said, WHO reported that CBD can potentially treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, anxiety, pain, depression, cancer, hypoxia-ischemia injury, nausea, IBD, inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetic complications.
The CBD compound can be put into oils and tinctures for sublingual (under-the-tongue) delivery, as well as in gummies, candies, and beverages for consumption. Looking for faster relief? Try vaporizing the oil. Some patients find that topical CBD products can provide anti-inflammatory relief for skin ailments (although there is no current research or reports to back up their success stories).
Because CBD is such a newcomer, there aren’t set recommendations on how to use it: The dose varies based on the individual and the ailment, and doctors do not have a milligram-specific, universal dosing method for CBD in the way they do with classic prescription medication.
And although WHO says there are no significant side effects, CBD could potentially cause dry mouth or impact blood pressure. It is also contraindicated with certain chemotherapy medications-so it’s important to talk to your doctor before adding any kind of medication into your regimen, including natural, plant-based medication. (See: Your Natural Supplements Could Be Messing with Your Prescription Meds)
THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol)
A compound (phytocannabinoid) found in cannabis plants, THC is known to treat a number of maladies-and to be exceptionally effective. And yes, this is the stuff that gets you high.
“THC is commonly known and is helpful for pain relief, anxiety control, appetite stimulation, and insomnia,” says Dr. Tishler. “However, we’ve learned that THC does not work alone. Many of those chemical work together to produce the desired results. This is called the entourage effect.”
For example, CBD, though helpful on its own, works best with THC. Indeed, studies show the synergy of the compounds found in the entire plant deliver enhanced therapeutic effects versus when they’re used solo. While CBD is often used as an isolated extract, THC is more frequently used for therapy in its whole flower state (and not extracted).
“Start low and go slow” is the term you’ll hear from many doctors when it comes to medicinal THC. Because it’s the psychoactive compound, it can cause feelings of euphoria, a head high, and in some patients, anxiety. “Everyone’s reaction to THC is variable,” says Dr. Solomon. “A tiny bit of THC for one patient won’t make them feel anything, but another patient could have the same amount and have a psychoactive response.”
Laws are continuing to change but, currently, THC is legal (regardless of medical necessity) in 10 states. In 23 additional states, you can use THC with a doctor’s prescription. (Here’s a full map of every state’s cannabis rules.)
Cannabis (the umbrella term for marijuana or hemp)
A family (genus, if you want to get technical) of plants, comprising both marijuana plants and hemp plants, among others.
You’ll often hear a doctor use the term cannabis in lieu of more casual terms like pot, weed, etc. Using the term cannabis also potentially creates a softer barrier to entry for those who have been a bit apprehensive when it comes to using marijuana or hemp as part of a wellness routine. Just know, when someone says cannabis, they could be referencing either hemp or marijuana. Keep reading for the difference between those.
Marijuana (a high-THC variety of cannabis plant)
Specifically the cannabis sativa species; typically has high amounts of THC and moderate amounts of CBD, depending on the strain.
Stigmatized and outlawed for decades, marijuana receives a bad rap thanks to government efforts to crack down on its use. The truth is that the only potentially “negative” effect of consuming medicinal marijuana is the intoxication-but for some patients, that’s a bonus. (Keep in mind: There aren’t enough long-term studies on marijuana to know if there are negative effects from prolonged use.) In certain cases, the relaxing effects of THC in marijuana can alleviate anxiety as well.
However, smoking marijuana could have negative implications, as with all types of smoking (this is as opposed to consuming marijuana via an edible form or tincture). The smoke itself “contains a similar range of harmful chemicals” that could lead to respiratory disease, according to the University of Washington. (See: How Pot Can Affect Your Workout Performance)
Side note: CBD is found in marijuana, but they’re not the same thing. If you’re interested in using CBD on its own, it can come from either a marijuana plant or from a hemp plant (more on that, next).
If you want to use marijuana therapeutically, you’ll reap the benefits of the aforementioned entourage effect. Consult with your doctor (or any doctor you trust who’s versed in cannabis) to determine the right combination for your needs.
Hemp (a high-CBD variety of cannabis plant)
Hemp plants are high in CBD and low in THC (less than 0.3 percent); a chunk of commercial CBD on the market now comes from hemp because it’s super easy to grow (while marijuana needs to be grown in more controlled environments).
Despite the higher CBD ratio, hemp plants don’t typically yield tons of extractable CBD, so it takes a lot of hemp plants to create a CBD oil or tincture.
Keep in mind: Hemp oil doesn’t necessarily mean CBD oil. When shopping online, it’s important to know the difference. What’s even more important is to know where the hemp was grown. Dr. Solomon warns that this is imperative because CBD is not currently regulated by the FDA. If the hemp from which the CBD is derived was grown overseas, you could be putting your body at risk.
“Hemp is a bioaccumulator,” he says. “People plant hemp to cleanse soil because it absorbs anything the soil has in it-toxins, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers. There is a lot of hemp that comes from overseas, and it may not be grown in a way.” American-grown hemp-especially from states that produce both medically and recreationally legal cannabis-tends to be safer because there are stricter standards, according to Consumer Reports.
He advises that when buying and using a hemp-derived product, to make sure the product has been “independently tested by a third-party lab,” and to “find the COA-certificate of analysis-on the company website,” to ensure you’re consuming a clean, safe product.
Some brands willingly provide the COA so you can ensure you’re getting a safe (and potent) hemp- or marijuana-derived medicine. Leading the market is what’s considered the Maserati of CBD, Charlotte’s Web (CW) Hemp. Pricey but powerful, their oils are known for being effective and clean. If a gummy-vitamin style is more your speed, try Not Pot’s CBD gummies (a portion of the proceeds go to The Bail Project in an effort to mitigate the effects of the criminalization of marijuana) or AUR Body’s sour watermelons that are an exact replica of Sour Patch Watermelon-with CBD. If you’d rather try a beverage, try Recess’s superfood-powered, full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD sparkling waters for a La Croix-meets-CBD refreshment.
- By By Dominique Astorino
The popularity of medical marijuana is soaring, and among the numerous products consumers are seeking are CBD, or cannabis oils.
A wealth of marketing material, blogs and anecdotes claim that CBD oils can cure whatever ails you, even cancer. But the limited research doesn’t suggest that cannabis oil should take the place of conventional medication, except for in two very rare forms of epilepsy (and even then, it’s recommended only as a last-resort treatment). And, experts caution that because CBD oil and other cannabis-based products are not regulated or tested for safety by the government or any third-party agency, it’s difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting.
What is CBD?
Simply put, cannabis oil is the concentrated liquid extract of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.
Similar to other herbal extracts, the chemicals in cannabis oils vary depending on how the extract is made and what chemicals were in the plant to begin with.
Cannabis plants produce thousands of compounds but the most well recognized belong to a class called cannabinoids. There are several cannabinoids but the two that are most well-known among consumers are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana and it is what people are searching for when they want a product that gives them a “high.” Unlike THC, CBD isn’t known to cause psychoactive effects, and is therefore attractive to those who want to avoid the high but who believe there are other benefits of CBD, said Sara Ward, a pharmacologist at Temple University in Philadelphia.
CBD products that don’t contain THC fall outside the scope of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Controlled Substances Act, which means CBD products are legal to sell and consume as long as they don’t have THC. That’s likely one of the reasons why CBD products, including CBD oil, are becoming more socially acceptable and increasingly popular. In 2016, Forbes reported that CBD products are expected to be a $2.2 billion industry by 2020.
How are CBD oils consumed?
The physiological effects of cannabinoids can vary widely from person to person, and also depend on how they’re consumed. That lack of predictability is one of the reasons why cannabis oil is a challenging candidate for developing into a medicine, Ward told Live Science.
“Two people may eat a brownie and one may absorb massive amounts of cannabinoids and the other may not,” Ward said. “How long it takes to work and how long it stays in the system differs greatly.”
It’s a little more uniform when the product is absorbed by smoking or vaping the oil, Ward said. But, “there are obvious concerns about smoking something.” A 2007 review published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that smoking marijuana resulted in similar declines in respiratory system health as smoking tobacco. A similar review published in 2014 in The American Journal of Cardiology found that marijuana smoke inhalation can increase the chances of heart attack or stroke. Neither review analyzed the effects of vaping cannabis oil alone, so it’s unclear if it has the same health risks as smoking other marijuana products.
Why do people use cannabis oil?
People claim that cannabis oil can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, though evidence to back up these claims is often lacking. For example, according to Medical News Today, people use cannabis oil for conditions ranging from pain to acne; some even claim the oil can cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. (But again, there is no clinical evidence to support these claims.)
A review published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology described how CBD may work to protect the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for several important functions, such as learning, memory and navigation — during times of stress, and may also help prevent brain-cell destruction that results from schizophrenia. Another 2017 review published in the journal Annals of Palliative Medicine summarized a handful of studies that suggest cannabis oils containing THC or CBD, or both, may help with chronic pain management, but the mechanism is unclear.
Cannabis treatment in people with certain forms of epilepsy has been more promising. The only FDA-approved cannabis-based drug is Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution for treating two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. A recent clinical trial found that Epidiolex reduced convulsive seizures by 50% in children with Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy, MedPage Today reported.
CBD is a chemical extracted from the Cannabis plant. (Image credit: )
Why medical experts are hesitant about CBD
It’s important to know that the research in this area is in its infancy, partly because we haven’t really understood much about CBD until relatively recently,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He pointed out that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA makes it difficult to get material to use in laboratory studies. Schedule 1 drugs have a high potential for abuse, according to the DEA, and are illegal under federal law.
Because of this classification, it’s not easy for researchers to get their hands on the drug. “That’s not to say you can’t do it, but there are hoops you need to jump through that can be a pain, which may deter researchers from going into this space,” Bonn-Miller said. “Relatively speaking, it’s a small group of people in the U.S. that do research on cannabinoids in humans.”
However, Bonn-Miller told Live Science that he thinks cannabis research is on the upswing. “If we flash forward five years I think you’ll see more studies,” he said. Those studies could reveal more conditions that CBD may be helpful for and may also reveal that some of the reasons why people say they use CBD oil are not supported by the science but are instead a placebo effect. “And that’s why we need to do the studies,” he said.
The side effects and risks involved with consuming marijuana-based products aren’t clear, either, Bonn-Miller said. It’s important to “determine cannabinoids that are useful therapeutically while understanding and using cannabinoids that are associated with less risk,” he said. At least with CBD, he said, it doesn’t appear to have the potential for addiction. That’s different from THC, which has been associated with addiction, he said, and negative side effects, including acute anxiety.
What consumers should know
Both Bonn-Miller and Ward stress that it’s up to the consumer to be well-educated about the material they’re purchasing and the research that’s out there. “The companies that are creating are offering lots of claims about its use that are not necessarily substantiated by any research,” Bonn-Miller said. So “I think there needs to be, from a consumer standpoint, a lot of vigilance,” he added.
And the products on the shelf aren’t all the same, Ward said. “There can be many, many different varieties, and if you’re thinking about doing this for medical reasons, you want to find a trusted source and do your research,” she said. “Where does that oil come from, and how confident can you be that you know the exact percentages of the different cannabinoids in the product?”
Bonn-Miller also explained that it’s imperative to exhaust the traditional and established front-line treatments that are available before seeking out these products. “CBD is not really a first-line treatment for anything,” he said. “You don’t want situations where somebody says, ‘I have cancer I’m going to forgo chemotherapy because I read something about CBD or THC helping with cancer.'” That’s not a good idea, Bonn-Miller said. “Not only is the science not there, but you may end up worse off.”
Original article on Live Science.