The Difference Between CBD and THC

When you think of cannabis, you may automatically assume it’s one product. Cannabis comes from the hemp plant as well as the marijuana plant, but there is more than one substance which can be extracted. CBD and THC are two of the many natural compounds which come from these plants.

CBD comes from the hemp plant or it may come from marijuana plants, but the hemp plants used for CBD contain very little THC. Plants used for making marijuana contain a much higher concentration of THC.

Both CBD and THC come in various forms, but only THC causes you to feel high. This compound in marijuana is released when the person smokes weed. You can find CBD in oils, gels, extracts, supplements, gummies and other products. THC is in oils as well along with capsules, tinctures, edibles and various products. Both of these compounds react with your body but in different ways.

Can You Get High?

One of the primary concerns for people who are considering using cannabis products for health or beauty reasons is whether they will get high similar to smoking marijuana. While the two compounds have the same chemical structure, it is set up differently which leads to different interactions with the human system. THC attaches to the CB1 receptors in the brain, which causes the high feeling. CBD has a very weak attachment if any and can even prevent THC from binding to these receptors.

Health Benefits

Studies show that CBD and THC have similar benefits to a person’s health. Both can be used to treat the same conditions, but CBD doesn’t create the euphoric high of THC, which can make it more appealing. The US Food and Drug Administration approved a medication containing CBD to treat rare forms of epilepsy. This is the first FDA-approved product with cannabis.

Research shows some positive effects from CBD on many conditions, including the following:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Migraines
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mental disorders, including psychosis

THC is also used to help relieve pain, nausea and anxiety. It may also provide benefits for insomnia, spastic muscles, glaucoma and poor appetite. It is part of medical marijuana, which means it has several recognized benefits to treat various conditions. It may be prescribed for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, nerve pain, glaucoma or nausea.

The Risk of Side Effects

CBD has a positive record of being tolerated well with very few side effects. Research suggests that any side effects that do occur have more to do with interactions between CBD and other medications.

THC does have some common side effects, including an increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, loss of memory, lack of coordination and a slower reaction time. These effects happen because of the psychoactive nature of THC. High use of THC can lead to negative psychiatric effects over the long-term. The risks are higher for children and teens who use THC.

Both these compounds can show up on drug tests, but THC is more likely to cause a positive test. Standard drug tests are looking for THC chemicals, but CBD products can contain THC, which may make the test positive as well.

Legality of CBD and THC

With more states passing laws allowing medical and even recreational marijuana, you may wonder what is allowed with these two compounds. CBD products which are derived from marijuana are illegal according to federal laws, but some state laws allow these products. CBD products which come from help are legal according to federal law but may be illegal in some states.

With at least 100 compounds coming from cannabis and the two most common being CBD and THC, it’s helpful to understand the differences of products. Once you know the basic information, you can make a solid decision about how and when to use products containing one of these ingredients.