Before we can attempt answering the question of what the differences between THC and CBD are, we first need to establish what exactly these two substances are.
When analysing the Cannabis plant, on notices that there are several chemical compound called Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the reason why this particular plant is called Cannabis.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound that makes up the highest percentage of the chemical composition of the Cannabis plant. It is also the Cannabinoid that is responsible for the psychoactive ‘trip” that a user embarks on when using Cannabis recreatively.
Its sister Cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD) make up the second highest percentage of the chemical composition of the Cannabis plant but, in contrast to THC, CBD does only have very low psychoactive properties. In fact, it actually counteracts the psychoactive properties of THC, thereby having the capacity to render the psychoactive effect of THC effectively null and void if combined with it in large enough quantities.
CBD vs THC – Similar, Contrary & Supporting
This particular aspect should then also be seen as the greatest and most significant difference between the two substances. The fact that CBD is not narcotic at all but can counteract the effects of THC paves the way to using THC more effectively by simply combining the two substances in such a way as to enhance the greatest medical benefits of THC, which could have been avoided by certain patients, but for the presence of CBD.
Contrary to what most people may think, THC does have some very significant medical benefits, such as enhancing the appetite of someone who needs to eat more in order to curb certain conditions, or to relieve pressure in the eyes of glaucoma sufferers and reduce nausea caused by chemo therapy in cancer patients. THC is a generally uplifting substance, While CBD has a calming effect on a patient. THC also lessons tremors in case of a spinal injury and reduce spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis. THC can also be useful in cases of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
It is therefore easy to see how CBD can be of help where patients would like to utilize THC for any of these specific conditions, but are afraid to use it because of the psychoactive effect of THC. Because CBD counteracts that effect, THC becomes more accessible to those patients.
The major differences of THC and CBD
The second most significant difference between the two substances is probably the property of CBD to relieve anxiety, whereas THC tends to cause anxiety rather than relieve it. CBD can be quite effectively used as a treatment for patients who suffer from panic attacks, since CBD has a sedative effect on the patient.
CBD is also effectively used to reduce psychotic symptoms in patient with Schizophrenia, and to lower anxiety levels in patients with social anxiety disorder. It also reduces depression in patients that suffer from this generally debilitating condition, and also decreases pain and nausea which are side effects of cancer treatments by means of chemo therapy. It also stimulates appetite in cancer patients.
Another difference between the two sister Cannabinoids is the fact that, while THC would induce sleep and a general sensation of “bliss” and “euphoria”, CBD promotes wakefulness. THC would therefore a good treatment for insomnia, while CBD would be the substance to take in order to remain alert in order to study for an examination.
One of the most common uses of marijuana is as a sleep aid. THC is believed to be responsible for most of marijuana’s sleep-inducing effects. These differing effects of CBD and THC on sleep may be a good explanation as to why explain why certain strains of Cannabis cause users to feel drowsy while others are known to increase energy levels.
Why is CBD used more than THC for medical treatments?
Having considerable immediate and long term cognitive side effects, THC is classified as an illegal drug. These side effects include impaired thinking and reasoning, reduced ability to plan and organize, altered decision-making, and reduced control over impulses.
Additionally, should THC be used chronically, it can cause conditions such as significant abnormalities in the heart and brain.
CBD does not have the harmful cognitive effects of THC. In fact, CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC, whether it be in plant form administered via an extract.
Cannabis plants that contain low amounts of CBD and large amounts of THC causes a stronger ‘high’, whereas plants with higher CBD levels and lower THC levels are responsible a weaker sense of ‘floating’.
The increasing popularity of medical marijuana have caused Cannabis growers to breed plant with high levels of CBD and low levels of THC.
The reason for this is the fact that strains with higher CBD to THC ratios tend to minimize the psychoactive side effects in general.
Overall, the small health risks of CBD, strengthened by the motivating factor of its efficacy, causes it to be a more attractive choice than THC when selecting for medical applications.