CBD vs THC

CBD vs THC: The Differences You Should Know

As the legal use of cannabis and its compounds grows, consumers are becoming more interested in their options. These include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These are two natural compounds found in cannabis. There are currently 85 known cannabinoids in hemp, the most prominent being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). However, there are several crucial differences between these two compounds. Find out the main CBD vs THC points in the sections below. 

What is the difference between THC and CBD compounds? It’s a question many cannabis enthusiasts, patients, even medical professionals ask.

CBD and THC: A Quick Overview 

While CBD is legal as a cure for various disorders, THC is illegal in most countries. CBD is primarily found in hemp extract. It is sold in as CBD gels, gummies, oils, cream and other forms. THC is a major psychoactive compound in cannabis. It can be consumed by smoking cannabis. It is also available in oils, edibles, and capsules.   

The key similarity is the same plant they originate from and the system they affect in our body. Namely, both compounds affect the endocannabinoid system but have completely different effects. 

Chemical Structures 

Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. There is a difference in the arrangement of the atoms, i.e. in the spatial structure itself. This explains the different effects on our bodies, which is the origin of all CBD vs THC differences. They are also chemically similar to the endocannabinoids of your body. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors. Interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals responsible for transmitting messages between cells. 

  • CBD 

The chemical formula of CBD is C21H30O2. The molecular structure of CBD contains 21 carbon atoms, 2 oxygen atoms, and 30 hydrogen atoms that are arranged in the following way. The molecule contains four CH3 groups and two hydroxyl groups. 

  • THC 

The molecular structure of THC also contains 21 carbon atoms, 2 oxygen atoms, and 30 hydrogen atoms. The chemical formula is C21H30O2, but the structure shows a cyclic ring in the place where there is a hydroxyl group in CBD. As a result, these two compounds own different properties.  

Does CBD Make you high?

Let’s be straightforward when it comes to this question. No, CBD does not make you high. You can (and probably will) feel relaxed, less depressed, and less anxious after consuming a CBD product, but you will not “get high”. The reason is simple – CBD does not contain psychoactive substances, unlike THC. This is one of the key differences between these two compounds. 

How they interact with Human body 

The structures of CBD and THC are chemically similar to the endocannabinoids of your body. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors. These are the receptors found in the endocannabinoid system in our brain. Interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals responsible for transmitting messages between cells. In this way, CBD and THC communicate with and affect our bodies. Again, we must point out that THC, being a psychoactive substance, affects certain centers that CBD does not, and vice versa. 

THC binds to receptors in the brain called cannabinoid 1 (CB1). Because of this, we get a sense of euphoria. CBD binds very poorly, if at all, to CB1 receptors. CBD can interfere with THC binding and decrease its psychoactive effects. These are some of the key CBD vs THC differences.  

Benefits involving CBD and THC 

Both CBD and THC have many common health benefits. They can help with a wide range of health problems, both physical and mental. CBD does not cause the euphoric effects that occur with THC consumption.  

Therefore, some people may prefer to use CBD due to the lack of this side effect. CBD helps mitigate: 

  • seizures (including epilepsy) 
  • Inflammation 
  • Pain 
  • psychosis or mental disorders 
  • inflammatory bowel disease 
  • Nausea 
  • Migraines 
  • Depression 
  • anxiety 

THC helps mitigate the following medical conditions:  

  • Pain 
  • muscle spasticity 
  • Glaucoma 
  • Insomnia 
  • low appetite 
  • Nausea 
  • Anxiety 

Legal factors to consider 

If you want to buy CBD or THC, you might easily do that on the Internet or even in pharmacies, but you might face serious legal consequences as well, depending on the country of your residence. In other words, there are certain legal factors to consider regarding CBD and THC trade, production, and consumption. 

This document published by the WHO (World Health Organization) contains information on the legal status of CBD. Here, you can find information on cannabis in general and the management of the substance abuse, by the WHO.   

You must also know that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are stored in body fat. They can appear on tests a few days or weeks after you use them. Not every test can detect cannabidiol, but CBD-sensitive tests exist. 

Final Thoughts

CBD and THC originate from the same plant, cannabis. However, the difference in the structural organization of their molecules results in important CBD vs THC differences regarding the effects of these two compounds on the human body.  

Both CBD and THC have certain positive effects on different medical conditions. Today, there are many different products based on these two compounds available on the market. You can find both CBD and THC products, including organic CBD in different forms. However, some countries still struggle with legalization issues, especially when it comes to THC.  

In general, CBD is well tolerated, even in large doses. The side effects are very rare and even if they occur, they result from the interaction between CBD and other medicines you may be taking.  

THC causes temporary side effects, such as increased heart rate, coordination problems, dry mouth, red eyes, slower reaction time, and even memory loss. These side effects are part of the psychoactive properties that are said to be the main difference between THC and CBD compounds. Additionally, a large amount of THC can lead to long-term psychological consequences. This is especially true for adolescents who consume large amounts of THC. The use of the compound increases the risk of some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.