Cannabis is made up of over 100 compounds but the two most commonly discussed are CBD and THC. The THC is the compound responsible for the cannabis high. The effects of CBD, however, have only been recently discovered.
In this article, we will highlight the differences between these two compounds in both their chemical structures and the effects of these compounds and the user.
Chemical Composition and Structure
When not abbreviated THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol while CBD stands merely for cannabinoid. While the two share the same chemical composition (twenty-one carbon atoms, thirty hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms) and same molecular mass, the branching and linking of the atoms are what make the two compounds different, THC having more branches and links than CBD.
The two compounds share similar chemical properties with other cannabinoids including insolubility in water and solubility in organic solvents. Both THC and CBD are present in a mixture of acidic forms, which become chemically altered upon heating.
What are the Psychological Effects of THC and CBD
Simply put, THC gets you high while CBD does not, to have a firm understanding of why this is, we have to dive deeper into the workings of the brain and the psychoactive chemicals in the two compounds.
The link between cannabinoids and psychoactivity stems from cannabinoid receptors found in the brain called CB1 (cannabinoid 1) receptors. The THC in cannabis binds to these CB1 receptors altering the normal function of the brain. The results in a mild to an intense feeling of euphoria, depending on the THC content, this is what’s commonly referred to as a cannabis high.
CBD, on the other hand, does not bind to the CB1 receptor and therefore does not lead to any psychoactive effects on the user, which subsequently begs the question, what does CBD do for your body?
CBD is an antagonist to the psychoactive effects of THC, mildly depressing the much-coveted high. Please note that CBD does not actually affect the CB1 receptors and in fact, doesn’t even come to contact with them. Instead, CBD modulates the psychoactive effects of THC, hence mitigating the mind-altering effects of the compound.
CBD also has immense therapeutic and health benefits to our bodies. Since THC seamlessly binds to CB1 receptors, the effects are immediate. These effects may include relaxation, altered and more pronounced senses, and the munchies. CBD, however, indirectly interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in a process called modulation, this results in a significant decrease in anxiety and reduces short-term memory losses. CBD also stimulates the increase of natural cannabinoids in the body and has profoundly immense health benefits for the user.
What are the Benefits of THC and CBD?
For a heavy ‘stoner’ (er..not me of course, cough!), the question posed above is a no-brainer. But apart from the stupefying effects, the compounds are known to accrue many health benefits. THC is widely used in the medical field for relaxation and pain-relieving effects while CBD is used to treat epilepsy, anxiety and sometimes psychological ailments. Here is a break down of the specific medical uses of the two compounds.
THC- Appetite stimulant- Analgesic- Sleep Aid- Reducing Glacouma symptoms- Decreasing muscle spasms- Reducing nausea
CBD- Anti-convulsant- Anti-psychotic- Painkiller- Anti-tumoral- Anti-depressant- Treats inflammatory bowel disease Though the medicinal use of cannabis dates back thousands of years ago, current restrictions and regulations have significantly limited the use of cannabis in medicine. However, as more funding is being utilized in the research, the full medicinal potential of cannabis is slowly being realized, warranting the legalization and decriminalization of the drug. Hopefully, we will soon utilize the full potential of cannabis in both medicine and recreation.