Cannabis and cannabis-derived products have been steadily increasing in popularity over the years. With the recent legalization, of medical and recreational use, in Canada and in many American states, it has never been safer or more available. With this surge in acceptance has come an increase in curiosity about this highly versatile plant!
Similar to other botanicals, cannabis is comprised of different chemicals and constituents, each with a special property, allowing for this plant to be truly unique. Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is perhaps the most famous constituent found in the plant, however, as cannabis products become more popular and widely available, another compound is making headway. CBD, or cannabidiol, has recently gained a lot of traction as the unsung hero of the cannabis plant, offering a wide range of gentle healing properties. Both THC and CBD have been renowned for their many benefits, but although they come from the same plant, they are not the same. Let’s get into the differences between THC and CBD!
1. Chemical Properties
THC and CBD are a class of phytochemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are derived from cannabis, a flowering plant that’s been cultivated for thousands of years to be used as a medicine, a food source, and to create products such as hemp rope or clothing.
Both CBD and THC share the same molecular structure, however, they are arranged differently, resulting in differently shaped molecules. This change in shape allows them to have different effects on the body.
THC’s molecular structure allows it to easily bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain. It’s this binding action that creates a high.
CBD, on the other hand, does not strongly bind to receptors and instead has a more roundabout interaction with the human body, creating a gentler cannabis experience.
2. Intended Use
THC is the constituent in cannabis that gets you high. Colloquially, smoking marijuana or weed refers to ingesting a cannabis product that is rich in THC. THC products are sought out for the psychoactive experience, used either medically or recreationally. THC stimulates feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and happiness.
CBD does not get you high. Often referred to as CBD oil, it boasts a more calming experience, ranging from pain management to psychological improvements. CBD has a wide range of reported benefits; therefore, most people take it for medical or therapeutic reasons. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, resulting in feelings of relaxation, reduced anxiety, and increased feelings of calmness and wellbeing. Because CBD does not get you high, there is much less stigma attached to it, and often more widely accepted as an alternative form of medicine, compared to products containing THC.
Both THC and CBD have been longtime studied for their health benefits.
- -Pain management
- -Appetite stimulant
- -Anxiety + stress management
- -Muscle spasm relief
- -Glaucoma medication
- -Insomnia remedy
- -Headache relief
- -Hangover symptom relief
- -Pain relief
- -Symptom management for inflammatory bowel disease
- -Reduce nausea and vomiting (when taken in small amounts)
- -Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- -Migraine and headache relief
- -Seizure management
- -Support overall well-being
It’s important to recognize that many benefits reported from both THC and CBD are continuously being researched and updated. Many health claims associated with cannabis are hotly debated, however, those that use the products responsibly report many benefits and bourgeoning research is doing the same!
As we mentioned above, THC and CBD have different effects on the body, as well as different intended uses, therefore the experience of the user will differ also. It’s important to consider what kind of experience you’re seeking, especially for first-time cannabis users, before using cannabis products. There are a variety of ways to enjoy both THC products and CBD products, that are safe and enjoyable.
Remember THC is the constituent that gets you high, so unless you’re using it for medical purposes, most seek it out to get high to some extent, but not all highs are the same.
Smoking + vaping – When THC is inhaled it enters the lungs, then moves through the bloodstream and into the brain, eliciting a quick high, often described as a “head” high.
Eating – When THC is ingested through food or edibles, the high changes. This high is often more delayed and more intense. An edible high is considered a full-body high. Because edibles enter the digestive tract, where THC is converted by the liver before entering circulation, it’s often experienced more widespread throughout the body.
Topicals – Slightly less well-known than inhalants or edibles, THC topical products are also available! Salves, balms, and bath bombs are all gentle ways to experience the positive effects of THC. These products are often used for pain management, muscle soreness, or relaxation. THC topicals will not get you high, rather you’ll receive localized benefits. Topicals also provide cannabis’s aromatic scent, although not for everyone, many report a fondness to the slightly pungent, floral aroma that THC products provide.
Similar to THC, CBD can be experienced in a variety of ways.
Ingesting + inhaling – One of the most popular ways to enjoy CBD oil is by ingesting it orally through tinctures, capsules, or in edibles. Otherwise, it can be inhaled by smoking or vaping the oil. Both of these methods are effective in receiving the benefits of CBD throughout the body. Users typically feel a sense of wellbeing and reduced anxiety after using CBD oil.
Topicals – Applying CBD oil to the skin is a great way to remedy localized pain in the body and is beneficial for sore muscles and inflammation. CBD oil is used in a variety of topicals, including pain relief products, salves, and bath bombs.
CBD products usually offer two varieties, either isolates or full spectrum. As the name suggests, an “isolate” product has been synthesized to be purely CBD and includes no other plant constituents. Full-spectrum, on the other hand, includes other molecules, including THC. Full-spectrum CBD oil will not get you high, but if you’re worried about THC then isolates are for you!
5. Side Effects
Although CBD and THC are both considered safe, as with anything with therapeutic capabilities, users may experience side effects:
THC side effects:
- -Increased heart rate
- -Dry mouth
- -Delayed reactions
- -Memory loss
- -Nausea and vomiting
- -Red eyes
- -Increase in hunger
- -Decreased appetite with long-term usage
- –Greening out: marked by pale complexion with a white or green hue, hence the name, accompanied with dizziness, sweating, vomiting, and anxiety.
CBD side effects:
- -Nausea and vomiting
- -Gastro upset
- -Lethargy and tiredness
- -Mood disturbances
Side effects for both THC and CBD are more often observed when taken in large quantities, however, everyone is different and will respond to these phytochemicals differently. THC and CBD may also react with other drugs and medications, so please consult with your doctor if you have concerns about using either product.
Topical application of products offers very few side effects, however, if you are prone to irritated skin, do a patch test and dab a small portion on your skin and wait overnight to see if you react.
Although they come from the same plant, THC and CBD do not do the same thing! Depending on what you’re looking for, the products you choose will differ. Although we talked about the differences between THC and CBD today, it’s worth mentioning that they work nicely together as well! Cannabis that contains both constituents is often reported to have fewer side effects and more beneficial properties than isolates. Like many plants of this natural earth, they do their best work when they are used in their entirety. Whether you’re looking for a high or just to relax, between the two of them, or maybe together, THC and CBD have you covered!
CBD and THC products can be purchased in a variety of ways, including through online dispensaries. Check out our inventory for one of the best online dispensary experiences, with a wide range of high-quality cannabis products. We offer THC rich strands, CBD oil, and everything in between!