As the legal use of marijuana and other cannabis products increases, consumers are becoming more and more curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two naturally occurring compounds found in plants of the genus Cannabis.
CBD is found mainly in the extractions of the hemp plant. It is sold in the form of gels, gummy, oils, supplements, crystals, e-liquid, extracts, etc.
THC is the main psychoactive compound of marijuana causing the sensation of hovering. It can be consumed by smoking marijuana. It is also available (in countries that allow it) in oils, food products, tinctures, capsules and more.
Both compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system of your body, but they have very different effects.
CBD vs. THC: chemical structure
CBD and THC have exactly the same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. A slight difference in the arrangement of the atoms explains the different impacts on your body.
CBD and THC are chemically similar to endocannabinoids in your body. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors. The interaction has an impact on the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for transmitting messages between cells and play a role in pain sensation, immune function, stress, sleep, to name a few.
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive components
Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC do not have the same psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. This means that it does not produce the “hovering sensation” associated with THC.
THC binds to cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a feeling of high euphoria.
CBD binds very little, if any, to CB1 receptors. In fact, this can interfere with THC binding and mitigate psychoactive effects.
CBD vs. THC: Health Benefits
CBD and THC have about the same health benefits. They can relieve many of the same conditions. However, CBD does not cause the euphoric effects of THC. Some people may prefer to use CBD because of the lack of this side effect.
CBD is used to treat a variety of other conditions, such as:
- Psychosis or mental disorders
- Inflammatory bowel disease
THC is used to help with conditions such as:
- Muscle spasm
- Low appetite
CBD vs. THC: Side effects
CBD is well tolerated even in high doses. Research suggests that the side effects of using CBD are likely the result of drug interactions between CBD and other medications that you may be taking.
THC causes temporary side effects, such as:
- Accelerated heart rate
- Coordination issues
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Slower reaction time
- Memory loss
- These side effects are part of the psychoactive properties of the compound.
No compound is fatal. However, high THC consumption may be related to long-term negative psychiatric effects. This is especially true for adolescents who consume large amounts of THC; the effect on the brain is deeper for teenagers. The use of the compound increases the risk of certain psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
CBD vs THC: legality
You should know that CBD is 100% legal in France while the euphoric molecule THC is strictly prohibited!
CBD products with less than 0.2% THC are authorized in France.
Why do we talk about THC content in CBD oil if THC and CBD are two different compounds?
CBD and THC are two of the most important cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Marijuana and hemp produce CBD and THC. However, marijuana has a higher concentration of THC. Hemp has a higher concentration of CBD. Because hemp contains more CBD than relatively low levels of THC, it is the ideal source for CBD oil.
The current average marijuana strain contains about 12% THC. CBD can not contain more than 0.3% THC. CBD oil may contain small amounts of THC as it is present in the hemp plant.