You’ve heard it blaring all over the news lately and plastered to your Facebook feed: “CBD! CBD!” By now we have all heard CBD is the trendiest medical development since penicillin, but have you actually had anyone explain exactly what it is? What makes CBD different from THC, the chemical we all know and love that also comes from the cannabis plant?
Since they are both extracted from the cannabis plant, and both interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system, they are often confused as being the same. It makes sense folks could get confused. Both CBD and THC are made out of the same base cannabinoid, Cannabigerol (CBG). Known as the main precursor of all major cannabinoids, CBG is abundantly present in immature cannabis plants. Once they mature, according to each strains’ genetic imprinting, the plant converts the CBG into either THCA or target="_blank">CBDA, relatively inactive acidic forms of THC and CBD.
As many of you already know, THC, which stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is infamous for its psychoactive and inebriating properties. THC is created by heating the THCA in the plant material. The process is known as decarboxylation. CBD is made the same way from strains high in CBDA. THC is a strongly psychoactive cannabinoid known for the “high” feeling it creates mentally. THC directly binds with both cb1 and cb2 receptors, creating said experience. THC’s psychoactive properties also can cause temporary side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate, and coordination problems. Because CBD lacks the psychoactive properties, it also lacks THC’s sometimes undesirable side effects.
As many of you might also know, cannabinoids have proven to be effective therapeutically because the body itself also produces its own cannabinoids that it uses to regulate both cellular metabolism and neural paths. The endocannabinoid system, which is a common feature among mammals and birds, serves as a vital signaling system in charge of regulating various bodily functions such as mood, appetite, pain, sleep, and memory. Our body even produces our own endogenous chemical equivalent of THC, known as anandamide. Because THC and CBD’s chemical makeups mirror our body’s own endocannabinoids, they are able to interact with systems receptors to alter the brain’s release of neurotransmitters.
CBD, short for “cannabidiol,” is a cannabinoid mostly extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis. CBD is abundant in the “male” cannabis plant, whereas the infamous THC is most abundant and extracted from the “female” cannabis plant. For the most part, even the most potent strains’ males contain little to no THC. Numerous very low THC cannabis strains have been cultivated for millennia. Those early cannabis strains were historically responsible for much of the rope, cloth and paper produced around the world. Famous founding fathers, like Washington and Jefferson, cultivated this type of cannabis. In fact, the very first set of laws for the British North American colonies required farmers to grow these legendary low-THC cannabis strains known as Hemp.
By definition, hemp plants contain no more than .3 percent THC. Although both substances contain medicinal properties and are both examples of cannabinoids (one of at least 113 cannabinoid chemicals in the plant), they are not the same. CBD can not get you “high” the way THC does, given that it is produced completely separately from THC, it contains no psychoactive nor inebriating properties.
Cannabinoids CBD and THC are simultaneously incredibly similar and remarkably different. They are both reactive to our bodies endocannabinoid receptors, giving them incredible potential for medicinal use/value. Many cannabis companies are creating products with 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD as well as various other combinations because of the multitude of medicinal properties both possess. CBD’s medicinal effects have also shown to work similarly in animals, making it a great option for people with anxious pets!
THC and CBDs major differences lie in the ways in which they interact with the endocannabinoid system. CBD is best known for its relaxing and calming benefits, as well as being anti-inflammatory with antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties make CBD incredibly useful for a number of oxidation-associated diseases, such as auto-immune diseases. CBD also works as a neuroprotectant, creating a plethora of medicinal uses including treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Another major difference between CBD and THC is their legal status. THC is clearly highly regulated worldwide and even banned in many countries, as well as 11 states here in the U.S. CBD is officially legal worldwide but is often lumped in with THC and other cannabis products. Here in the US CBD is both widely available in health food stores and online and yet considered a gray area, with shipments of CBD products occasionally being seized and cannabis patients often harassed and even erroneously charged with narcotics possession. The DEA only recently, quietly acknowledged that technically, CBD is not governed by the Controlled Substances Act.
Because of the way CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (it doesn’t bind to cb1 receptors), it is impossible to “over-do” CBD. CBD can in fact suppress the cb1 activating effects of chemicals like THC, allowing to reduce unpleasant psychoactive effects that come with being “too high.” You can never get “too high” with CBD because it doesn’t have psychoactive effects! CBD is often referred to as the “miracle oil” due to all its incredible benefits and while it may seem like such, it’s actually just in the science! Because of CBDs powerfully positive effects on human health, many, many dispensaries will carry CBD products in addition to the popular THC-laden flowers and edibles that fill the stores.
When selecting your CBD products, we encourage you to stick to the products available in dispensaries and be wary of the things you could find online. Because of conflicting law enforcement attitudes about CBD, shopping online can sometimes be problematic. Also, several unscrupulous CBD companies have been caught fudging their results and sometimes even selling “CBD oil” with no actual CBD in it!
Ask your patient consultant, if CBD products are right for you and if so which ones would serve you the best. Keep safe, Keep healthy and Merry medicating!