map of USA with two joints on top

CBD vs. THC: What's the Difference?

58% of the American public can’t tell CBD and THC apart. A recent study conducted by a data analysis and survey company Invisibly revealed some surprising information: most Americans don’t know the difference between THC and CBD. The study found that among the respondents with prior experience or use of CBD or THC products, the results were even worse, with just 36% able to differentiate between the chemicals.

As campaigns for cannabis legalization move forward and the benefits of medical cannabis continue to impress the science world, the time has come to leave misconceptions and misinformation on cannabis in the past. Additionally, with cannabis products becoming more potent than ever, understanding the effects the different compounds have on our body is critical.

THC

THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Over the years, the THC levels present in products have been steadily rising, which means products are increasing in potency. THC causes the cannabinoid receptors that are part of the endocannabinoid system and are located in the brain and body, specifically the CB1 and CB2 receptors, to activate. These receptors are located throughout the brain in multiple areas responsible for multiple different functions. This is why THC has such a varied effect on human behavior and can affect different people differently.

CBD

On the other hand, CBD does not directly impact CB1 and CB2 receptors, but it does affect non-cannabinoid-specific receptors in the body. CBD’s anxiety-reducing effects are often attributed to its effect on one of these receptors, the 5-HT species, which controls serotonin release.

CBD can also block fatty amyloid acid hydrogenase (FAAH), which breaks down anandamide, a cannabinoid produced naturally by our bodies that activate the endocannabinoid system, another potential cause of CBD’s calming effects.Additionally, by causing another endocannabinoid (2-AG) to be released, an immune response is triggered and activates the CB1 and CB 2 receptors-indirectly. CBD is also an antioxidant.

Both CBD and THC have been linked with neuroprotection and pain relief properties due to their modulation of opioid receptor expression.

Understanding the different effects each compound has on our bodies makes it easier to find the cannabis product that’s right for you. For example, when THC is taken orally, it is converted into a stronger metabolite, which means that while the high may take longer to hit, it is a much more intense high than one achieved from smoking.

In addition, it’s essential to be aware of how these compounds can interact with other medications you are taking or chemicals in your body.