The cannabis plant has been used for centuries for different purposes, including reaching a mind-bending state, exploring new mind experiences, and treating health conditions which medicine was not able to help with at the time. The natural herb has gone through a number of phases in terms of legality and appreciation but has nowadays turned into a valuable and beneficial resource. Studies around the field have uncovered the true potential of the flower and a number of countries have already legalized cannabis for medical and even recreational use. Even if it remains a controversy, research behind the effects of CBD help to establish the distinction between the cannabinoid and the rest of the substances found in marijuana.
Although there may be a difference between CBD and other cannabinoids such as THC, there have been studies revealing that the compound can actually work better with other substances found in the cannabis plant, especially THC. So if you are in search of the best CBD product and are wondering whether some level of THC will do you harm or is instead preferable, you have come to the right place. We will look into the distinction between CBD and THC, uncover how they work together in the human body, and describe the entourage effect in order to demonstrate the benefits of the consumption of both cannabinoids.
You may be surprised to learn that the CBD and THC cannabinoids which most consumers are familiar with are not in reality produced directly by the plant. The cannabis flower actually synthesizes a number of cannabinoid acids, which then have to be decarboxylated or activated to give birth to the substances that most people are in search of, mainly due to their health benefits. Let’s look at the full spectrum of cannabinoid acids found in cannabis:
- CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
- THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol acid)
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
- CBCA (Cannabichromene acid)
- CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
- THCVA (Tetrahydrocannabivarin acid)
- CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid)
- CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid)
One of the reasons behind the dominant popularity of the CBD and THC compounds is the prevalence of THCA and CBDA in most cannabis strains. Exposing the acids to heat transforms them into neutral, giving birth to THC and CBD as they are known from a consumer perspective. Although smoking marijuana is mainly associated with getting smokers high, most cannabinoids are not psychoactive and will not produce this effect. In fact, THC is the only psychoactive and intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant.
The compounds from the cannabis plant work together to create the ultimate effect in the body. The process of CBD and THC cooperating is especially interesting, due to their abilities to communicate with the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. Let’s look at the two main cannabinoids CBD and THC.
CBD and THC
Even if they are part of the same plant, the two cannabinoids have their own distinctive set of characteristics. As mentioned, THC is a psychoactive substance which causes a mind-altering effect in the human body when consumed. However, it also has a number of medical benefits such as:
- Analgesic: THC has the power to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Relaxation: It stimulates the body to enter a state of relaxation and well-being.
- Drowsiness: THC helps to fall asleep quicker and to maintain normal sleeping patterns.
- Boosts appetite: It creates the urge to eat.
- Manages the muscles: It suppresses spasms and seizures.
- Reduces nausea: It helps control stomach discomfort, which is especially valuable for chemotherapy patients.
On the other hand, CBD is not a psychoactive substance and its use is mainly associated with providing significant benefits for the body. It can be used both as treatment and prevention due to its vast range of benefits, including:
- Anti-depressant: CBD helps in the fight with anxiety and depression.
- Anti-convulsant: CBD can prevent seizures, especially with epilepsy patients.
- Anti-oxidant: It reduces neuro-degenerative disorders.
- Anti-psychotic: The compound can fight psychosis.
- Neuro-protective: CBD acts as a protector of the neurons in the brain.
- Anti-emetic: It reduces nausea and vomiting.
- Anti-inflammatory: It reduces inflammation and provides relief for pain.
- Anti-tumoral: It prevents cancer cells from growing and spreading through the body.
Extracting CBD and THC
In order to consume a product with CBD and THC with regulated levels, consumers either have to choose from oils, tinctures, edibles, or other creations or smoke a cannabis strain with specific levels of THC and CBD. However, in the case of smoking the herb, the consumer’s body is exposed to the effects of the full range of cannabinoids found within the flower, which exceed 113.
Today, the sophistication of technology and the presence of detailed knowledge behind the nature of cannabis and its compounds have given rise to a range of innovative extraction methods, which help collect certain parts of the flower for manufacturing purposes. CBD and THC are both found within marijuana and hemp, although CBD prevails in hemp whereas THC can be found in higher doses in the marijuana flower. The different extraction methods will provide a different end product in terms of the CBD and THC ratio. Although many prefer a clean CBD intake due to the psychoactive nature of the THC cannabinoid, in reality, research suggests that the intake of both cannabinoids may provide an improved effect for the body. But how does this happen?
The “Entourage Effect”
The research behind the effects of the different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant demonstrates that the when consumed together, they create something called the “Entourage Effect” or the ultimate synergy, leading to a positive outcome for the consumer. According to studies, THC plays the part of the agonist in the endocannabinoid system, while CBD plays the role of the antagonist. In that sense, THC activates the receptors of the system while CBD sticks to the receptor but keeps it inactive.
One of the main worries regarding THC is its psychoactive effect which we looked at earlier. However, when consumed with CBD, the cannabinoid can regulate the effect of THC and ensure that the consumer absorbs only the medical benefits of the source, rather than its mind-bending properties.
THC has a binding affinity with CB1 receptors from the endocannabinoid system, responsible mainly for the nervous system, the glands, brain, and other important organs. On the other hand, CBD communicates with both CB1 and CB2 receptors but mainly focuses on its contact with CB2 receptors. This is another explanation as to why combining the compounds in the body produces an enhanced effect, as both receptors are stimulated and their functions are boosted.
Depending on the condition which needs to be treated, CBD and THC can successfully work together in certain ratios to provide the desired effect. For example, THC and CBD ratio of 1:1 can be successful in tackling conditions such as muscle spasticity, pain, or urinary discomforts and problems typical for patients with multiple sclerosis. In addition, consuming THC and CBD together can also provide relief for those suffering from irregular sleep or other sleep disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, or pain as a result of cancer.
Are CBD and THC legal?
Different parts of the world have adopted their unique stances on cannabis and specifically CBD products. Due to the concerns regarding the mind-altering effect of THC, the compound is not as well appreciated as CBD from a legal perspective. However, due to the vast amount of research behind the cannabinoids, a number of countries have legalized CBD products with small levels of THC. For instance, in the UK, CBD oil with no more than 0.2% THC is officially legal and can be found online or in designated stores. In the USA, CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC has been legalized, again putting a healthy barrier to the consumption of THC.
When purchasing a CBD product it is useful to research the CBD and THC ratio in advance to guarantee the safety of the product and its effect on your personal health condition. The cannabinoids found in cannabis have shown their potential for the human body but must be approached with care and mindfulness. Treating different health conditions would require a unique CBD therapy and a specific CBD consumption method, dosage, and more. Consulting with a professional from the field will allow you to reap the benefits of CBD and THC without exposing your mind and body to potential threats.