What's the Difference Between CBD vs. THC?
The main difference between CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is that CBD does not induce a high whereas THC does.
Despite CBD and THC sharing a near exact molecular formula of C21H30O2, and molecular mass of 314.469 g/mol and 314.464 g/mol respectively, the compounds react quite differently.
THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, induces sleep or drowsiness (a common effect of most strains of marijuana), whereas CBD keeps you up and increases energy. And THC is responsible for the feeling of being high or body-high.
When reacting together, CBD actually works against the effects of THC by reducing anxiety, stress or other negative feelings. For this reason, CBD is often extracted to use separately for non-psychoactive (and non-recreational) purposes.
What Is CBD?
CBD is only one of around 400 compounds in marijuana, and is responsible for counteracting the effects of THC. Although the CBD molecule is almost identical to the THC molecule, it doesn't get you high. On its own, CBD has been proven to have many health benefits and uses, such as treating anxiety, stress, epilepsy and depression. The compound is non-psychoactive, which has helped it gain support in many medical fields for its therapeutic properties.
Its benefits have been maximized by the retail and medicinal markets, with CBD products including oils, vapes, medicines, skincare and drinks. Cannabinoid oil is a popular product created from CBD.
CBD has even been used for dogs to treat conditions like anxiety, mobility, pain and heart disease. Products like dog treats and oils have become increasingly popular in recent years and are often recommended by veterinarians. CBD's antibiotic properties have also been linked to helping fight infections, although research is mixed.
Side Effects of CBD
Based on current research, side effects of CBD are rather limited. According to studies done by Medical Marijuana Inc., some reports of drowsiness, dry mouth and low blood pressure exist, but no links to serious side effects have been found.
What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive component of marijuana, although the THC molecule is surprisingly similar to its non-psychoactive counterpart CBD. THC is what gets you high, and for that reason is somewhat less accepted for medicinal use than CBD.
Still, THC brags its own beneficial uses. THC has properties that have been known to help treat pain, nausea, asthma and even anorexia nervosa. However, as a psychoactive compound, its medicinal uses are still controversial.
Side Effects of THC
In high-concentration THC, common negative side effects include reduced cognitive functions, anxiety, paranoia, dry mouth, red eyes, lethargy and increased appetite. Still, the positive effects of THC include increased relaxation, joint and headache relief, among others. It's worth noting that the increased appetite effect is often looked at as a positive among chemotherapy patients suffering extreme loss of appetite, as well as individuals suffering from an eating disorder.
Health Benefits of CBD vs. THC
The health benefits of CBD have been widely researched. With its non-psychoactive status, CBD has been known to treat health problems, most notably epilepsy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Anna K. Abram claimed as much.
"CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy," Abram wrote in a notice through the Federal Register in 2017.
It is clear that the positive benefits of compounds like CBD are becoming increasingly uncovered.
The FDA is aware that "marijuana or marijuana-derived products are being used for a number of medical conditions including, for example, AIDS wasting, epilepsy, neuropathic pain, treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and cancer and chemotherapy-induced nausea," according to their website. Still, the use of many medical marijuana and even CBD products are still awaiting official approval.
THC, while not used for quite as many applications as CBD, brags quite a few health benefits itself. In cannabis-oil form, studies have shown that THC can be used to treat neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. These studies also showed that THC can ease pain and help alleviate multiple sclerosis.
*This article first appeared in The Street.