As you may know, the Cannabis sativa plant contains cannabinoids, each of which interact with cannabinoid receptors in unique ways. Although there are a number of these cannabinoids, the two most prominent are tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, or THC and CBD. Although they are both found in cannabis, CBD and THC are actually quite different, and in many regards actually work to counteract one another.
The primary difference between the two is that THC contains psychoactive properties, and can ‘get you high’ while CBD does not. For recreational marijuana users, it may appear that CBD is more or less useless, but it actually plays an important role in managing THC. THC works by binding to and activating the CB1 receptor, which is found on neurons and glial cells in the brain. This is what leads towards feelings of euphoria when smoking marijuana, but can also lead to mild anxiety, hunger and other minor neurological conditions. On the other hand, CBD actually antagonizes the CB1 receptor, and in effect minimizes the impact of THC. A recreational user may dismiss CBD as ‘blowing there buzz’, but the truth is, without CBD, the effects of pure THC would be significantly different. A great example of this is found in synthetic THC, which is more potent (and more dangerous) than even the most THC heavy strains of marijuana. In a clinical study related to a study on schizophrenia, CBD was able to significantly neutralize the psychoactive impact of THC.
Of course, that is not to say that THC is harmful in it’s natural form. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. Outside of recreational marijuana use, THC has been used extensively for medicinal purposes over the years, and is widely considered to be the driving force behind medicinal marijuana, although it typically contains CBD as well. It was not until recently that extracted CBD was researched for it’s medicinal properties separate from THC, and although clinical trials and anecdotal evidence are overwhelmingly positive, it is not enough to replace THC derived medicinal. In all likelihood, CBD and THC work best in unison, but nevertheless, research into CBD extract, and hemp derived CBD extract in particular, is important, as CBD contains none of the side affects, psychoactive properties or even legality issues of high THC marijuana, while sharing certain medicinal traits (and unfortunately also sharing certain stigmas).
The biggest difference between the two, outside of their psychoactive properties (or lack there of) is the type of cannabis they can be derived from. Cannabis sativa comes in two major strains – marijuana (which is illegal) and hemp (which is not). Both CBD and THC are featured in marijuana, although often the crop will be selectively bred to increase the THC potency. However, hemp is a completely different story. Hemp contains a high CBD content, but has only trace amounts of THC. This is bad news for those of you looking to sit back on the couch and watch for hidden messages in old Disney cartoons in a dark smoky basement – but great news for those of us looking forward to a future containing a non-psychoactive (and completely legal!) medicinal cannabis extract.
Looking for more information on medicinal cannabis? Check us out at www.cannaviri.com for all the latest news from our growing industry.