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THC vs CBD. Which is better?

1. Introduction

CBD, a cannabinoid that is relatively new to the healthcare industry, has gained a significant amount of hype. However, the popularity of another cannabis ingredient, THC, is yet to exceed this increased enthusiasm. CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two popular cannabinoids you can find in marijuana. Cannabis-derived products are taking a front seat to treating a number of illnesses.

We humans have several cannabinoid receptors in our body, which connect with these cannabinoids to cause some physiological and psychological effects. As cannabis and marijuana products are becoming legal in more and more places, this enthusiasm is expected to rise. A slew of new products containing CBD, THC, or both has popped up in recent days, all claiming to help with problems including stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. 

Despite the fact that these two cannabinoids are distinct, many individuals mistake one for the other. To comprehend the possible advantages and adverse effects of these cannabis-based medicines, it is necessary to first comprehend the distinctions between CBD and THC. We’ll compare and contrast CBD and THC in this article so you can understand their similarities, distinctions, and most importantly, their effects on wellness of health.

2. What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a group of compounds found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. Only around 66 of these substances in the Cannabis plant’s roughly 480 unique natural compounds are classified as cannabinoids. These chemical compounds interact with our body’s cannabinoid receptors. There are mainly three classes of cannabinoids namely phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids.

As the name suggests, phytocannabinoids are produced by cannabis plants. Endocannabinoids are produced by the human body, animals and birds and needless to say, synthetic cannabinoids are produced in laboratories. Yes, you guessed it right! CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are types of phytocannabinoids as these prominent cannabinoids are derived from the Cannabis plant.

3. The differences between CBD and THC

Both marijuana and hemp plants are different forms of cannabis plants that have CBD and THC. Even though the active compound has the same chemical composition, they have different effects on the human body. That is because of the arrangement of atoms in their chemical structure. This atomic arrangement dictates how they interact with the receptors of our endocannabinoid system.

There are two types of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies – CB1 and CB2 receptors.  CB1 is found in the central nervous system which is our brain and in other tissues and CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and gut. When THC interacts with CB1 receptors, this interaction creates a euphoric psychoactive effect that makes you feel “high” and acts as pain relief. CB1 receptors are mainly responsible for the psychoactive effect in our minds. 

CBD interacts with CB2 receptors and enables the body to make more endocannabinoids. Therefore, CBD doesn’t make you feel high but just works with the body to create general well-being. It is also found to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Here’s a fun fact. When CBD and THC are taken together, CBD is found to reduce the effect of THC by changing the behaviour of the CB1 receptor thus, successfully decreasing THC’s potential to cause highs. Epidemiological studies indicate the use of cannabis and increased psychotic problems. This way CBD is more effective than THC.

4. Medical Properties

CBD’s popularity as the better-suited chemical for serious cannabis users may be attributed to one simple fact: it does not make you high. Intoxication of any type is frowned upon in our fast-paced society. If a strong supporter of CBD wants to be taken seriously when it comes to the medicinal benefits of cannabis, they must abandon THC and fully pursue CBD.

And it’s simple enough to do so. CBD, a cannabis extract is a highly effective drug interaction. Supporters of CBD claim it decreases inflammation, anxiety, agony, improves heart health, and has a slew of other advantages. THC, on the other hand, may be even more effective than CBD in treating a few of these conditions. Both CBD and THC are given to patients with intractable cancer-related pain.

CBD is becoming increasingly popular among people who have arthritis and other chronic pain-inducing illnesses. Both THC and CBD extract inpatients are being used in treating pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, heart problems and insomnia. It’s been found that more than half of the population that has arthritis has tried CBD for its medicinal properties.

Both cannabinoids have their own set of pros and cons. CBD is used to treat seizures in the clinic. The first cannabinoid-derived medicine, Epidiolex, which was associated with the disease Lennox-Gas taut Syndrome, was even authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat two uncommon kinds of pediatric epilepsy. THC, on the other hand, has shown potential benefits in clinical studies for eye pressure therapy that is, intraocular pressure.

5. Health benefits of CBD

There’s intense research going on in the scientific community to find the full potential of CBD. CBD seem to produce promising results for some diseases.

5.1 Epilepsy

It has been proved by a series of clinical trial tests that CBD helps in reducing the recurrence of seizures and upset stomach. There’s also a CBD drug for epilepsy approved by the FDA under the cannabis-derived compounds. According to an observational study, it is also used in the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

5.2 Anxiety

A clinical study shows that CBD reduces anxiety and nervousness in individuals that have social anxiety. But psychologists suggest that there needs to be more compelling research and evidence to say that CBD can treat anxiety.

5.3 Insomnia and Depression

Some clinical trial studies indicate that CBD can help with sleeplessness and depression. CBD has also been found to work more effectively than currently available antidepressants.

5.4 Diabetes

Initial research for human studies in this field suggests that CBD helps in reducing the effects of high glucose in the body. Scientists engaged in further research stating that CBD might have effective benefits for patients with diabetes.

Apart from these, CBD is also used as a pain reliever and is also used to reduce nausea. It’s also important to note that CBD plays a significant role in easing migraines.

6. Health benefits of THC

The medical benefits of THC include relieving a number of symptoms of various illnesses. You should note that THC comes under controlled substances, resulting in the possession of THC being illegal. Because of this, there’s only limited research available on the health benefits of THC.

6.1 Chronic pain

Most people resort to medical marijuana for their problems with chronic pain relief. A large scale observational study was conducted in 2015, where it was proved that THC helped in chronic pain and reduced pain by 40%. Furthermore, THC has also been found to relieve cancer pain and neuropathic pain.

6.2 Nausea

The treatment of cancer chemotherapy involves nausea and vomiting. The THC drugs which are taken orally have been found to reduce both nausea and vomiting in patients who are undergoing cancer chemotherapies. 

6.3 Muscle Spasms

In the case of patients with Multiple sclerosis, as per an observational study conducted with clinical trials, THC has improved the conditions associated with muscle spasms and movement disorders.

6.4 Sleep

Sleep is also another common reason why people take THC. Patients with MS and pain experience sleeplessness on a daily basis. The administration of THC has reduced sleep disturbances and improved all sleep-related problems. Opioid-treated cancer patients have reported better sleep after using this.

6.5 Cancer and AIDS

The acute effects of THC are also found to help reduce weight loss problems in patients and appetite loss in patients who have AIDS and in people with cancer. It also helps tackle weight loss in patients who have AIDS. Recent research conducted by National Cancer Institute involving an animal study found that certain THC from marijuana slowed the growth of cancer and even reduced the spread of cancer cells. It is also used in the treatment of anorexia associated with AIDS patients.

7. Psychoactive Characteristics

All the above-mentioned cases for cannabinoids proved their therapeutic effects. But cannabinoids are also known for their psychoactive effects. THC is the psychoactive chemical most frequently associated with cannabis, whereas CBD is not. But reports say that CBD is also still psychoactive, indicating it has an effect on the mind, but it isn’t intoxicated or impairing.

THC’s “high” is caused by its interaction with CB1 receptors. CBD does not generate the same intoxication effect as THC since it does not bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors.

When the cannabinoids CBD and THC are ingested together, however, CBD attaches to receptors and prevents THC from connecting to them, reducing part of the THC’s effects

8. Common Side Effects of CBD and THC

CBD doesn’t cause any adverse health effects even when consumed in large quantities. If any negative effects were discovered, it was almost always due to CBD reacting with another medication the individual was taking at the same time. These drug interactions must be taken into account. Always get medical supervision before using CBD, particularly if you are using other medications.

However, in some cases, CBD can cause several side effects if you go beyond the prescribed dosage. Common side effects can include dry mouth, giddiness, drowsiness, lowered blood pressure and abdominal pain. Sometimes when taken in more quantities, can affect liver function and result in liver damage.

8.1 CBD Intake Warning

It is important that cannabis users are aware of the dosage. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women should not take CBD as it is not safe for babies. Children below 1 year, people with liver function issues and people with Parkinson’s disease should not take CBD as it might cause some worse damage.

People who consume an unsafe amount of THC are susceptible to its harmful effects and problems like increased blood pressure, paranoia, anxiety, high heart rate, problems with coordination, redness of eyes, drying of the mouth, loss of memory and sometimes even hallucinations.

8.2 THC Intake Warning

THC might also cause addiction and harm the psychological well-being of cannabis users. This can even cause psychotic symptoms. The potential for abuse is a lot more in THC than CBD. Pregnant women and children should not be exposed to THC.

9. The legal status of CBD and THC

When it comes to the legal status, buying CBD is perfectly legal as long as it contains only 0.3% (dry weight basis) of THC. More THC content can make it illegal, so this should be considered carefully. In some places, only patients who have prescriptions can buy CBD. Several CBD supplements and health improvement cannabis products are not approved by the FDA to protect public health. Any company that sells CBD and THC with public health claims are considered to be violating the law.

The medical marijuana laws allow the patients with prescriptions to get cannabinoids, not more than what they have been advised to take, which has avoided many deaths.

10. Conclusion

Well, which is better among the two – CBD or THC? It’s going to be difficult to choose because combining the two has always produced better results. Every CBD drug will have a small quantity of THC in order to be effective. Particularly in the case of chronic pain. It’s also important to notice that you can’t overdose on both CBD and THC. It is better to focus on minimum concentration.

THC is an active cannabis-derived compound in medical marijuana, though it can relieve you of pain, it can have psychological effects on you and make you high. But taking THC above and beyond the prescribed limit can lead to some common side effects.

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