CBD vs THC— What are the Differences?
The therapeutic use of cannabis has been increasingly discussed in recent years, with the legalization of medical marijuana in many states. As more people explore the potential for using cannabis and hemp oil products for natural healing, two main compounds of the plant — THC, and CBD — have become part of the conversation.
Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa, and the two plants are similar in many respects. However, their defining difference is the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC content. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC, meaning hemp-derived products don't contain enough THC to create the euphoric, mind-altering effects traditionally associated with marijuana.
The effects of CBD vs THC differ. CBD is non-intoxicating and produces relaxing, calming effects that can help support wellness. The compounds affect your body differently, but both have health benefits and can underpin a natural approach to healing.
Continue reading to learn more about CBD vs THC, how they interact with the body, and their health benefits.
CBD vs THC legal differences
There are legal differences between CBD vs THC. Since the 2018 Farm Act, CBD products have been legal in the United States, provided they are derived from hemp with a THC content of 0.3% or less and are manufactured in accordance with the law.
By contrast, THC is illegal at the federal level, though it is legal in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical or recreational use. As such, products containing THC must be purchased from a licensed dispensary within states with legalized marijuana laws. They cannot be legally purchased in other states.
However, there is a proposed piece of legislation — the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) — which could lead to the decriminalization of marijuana at a federal level. But it's unclear when this, or any other related legislation, might be passed.
The effects of CBD vs THC on the body
CBD and THC have different effects on the body because of how they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex signaling system that comprises a network of receptors and molecules called endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced by the body.
You have an ECS regardless of whether or not you use cannabis products. Its role is to help your body maintain balance by regulating sleep, pain response, mood, immunity, reproductive health, and countless other processes.
THC and CBD have a chemical makeup similar to your body's endocannabinoids. If you don't have enough natural endocannabinoids, plant-derived cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, can help support the ECS.
However, they interact with the ECS differently. THC binds directly with cannabinoid receptors, triggering several physiological effects, including the "high" associated with using marijuana.
CBD exerts its effects in different ways. Instead of binding to cannabinoid receptors, it affects how your body processes endocannabinoids and influences other receptor activity in the brain and body, including 5-HT1A receptors and the vanilloid receptor TRPV-1.
The health benefits of CBD
Thanks to its legal status and non-intoxicating properties, the popularity of CBD has boomed in recent years. As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eased the regulations surrounding CBD, there's been a growing number of clinical trials uncovering the compound's potential.
There's been considerable research into using CBD for neurological disorders like Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's. The results suggest that CBD affects signaling in the brain and can reduce distressing symptoms like seizures, tremors, muscle spasms, twitching, and more.
One study showed a more than 36% decrease in seizures for people with epilepsy patients. Other research on CBD in people with Parkinson's Disease showed they experienced fewer tremors, improved sleep, and an overall improvement in quality of life. Another study showed that CBD could help improve mobility in people with multiple sclerosis.
Its neuroprotective effects also benefit people experiencing mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and depression. There's a wealth of anecdotal reports of CBD for anxiety and
Studies show that CBD also eases inflammation, a root cause of many serious health conditions like heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and more. It's also a natural pain reliever without the dangerous side effects of pharmaceutical options. As a result, many people now use CBD oil for pain and enjoy relief.
Why choose CBD vs THC
Although THC is a powerful compound, it's not ideal for everyone. However, given its wide range of potential health benefits and legal status, CBD is becoming an attractive option for those looking for the nourishing, balancing properties of cannabinoids without the intoxicating effects of THC.