Here are two very big words for you: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)—and no, no one expects you to remember those, much less remember how to spell them; thus the way more convenient abbreviations of THC and CBD. What do we know about these two things. For one, we know they are both associated with cannabis, and from there, well, most people tend to get a little foggier on the details.
So let’s take a moment to color in a clearer picture or what exactly the distinctions are between these two cannabis-extracted compounds.
Marijuana and THC
When you think THC, your mind should go to the term marijuana. Why you ask? This is because THC is that essential “get high” compound. For those who ingest marijuana in one form or another in order to experience the euphoria, to fly to the moon and back, to mystically reunite with Jerry Garcia in some sativa-induced alternate universe, this is what the THC provides.
How does it accomplish this exactly? Basically, due to its molecular structure, THC is able to enter the brain and tightly nestle up to the cannabinoid receptors. In doing so, it basically activates these receptors thereby affecting a person’s sense of pleasure, of relaxation, their memory and their thinking abilities. It also increases dopamine levels, even adding more euphoria into the mix. The cannabinoid receptors’ best friend in some ways, THC is considered to have psychoactive effects.
CBD – The Antagonist
Now, on the other side of the coin you have CBD. Unlike its high-flying counterpart, CBD does not readily embrace your cannabinoid receptors; in fact, quite the contrary, it only indirectly interacts with these receptors. Its effects are therefore not as euphorically intense, but rather more mitigating. Additionally, the cannabidiol also has the capacity to interact with other forms of receptors in the brain as well, for instance it communicates with the opioid receptors: important for their role in pain control.
There are studies that prove that CBD can counteract the effects of THC.
So, unlike the purpose of THC, CBD’s function seems to be one of health and therapeutic benefits, of helping to alleviate things like anxiety and nausea, and even of aiding in pain control. While THC recalls images of weed-inspired highs, CBD is more commonly connected to medical usage.
The differences as you can see are actually pretty significant. Both however stem from the same source: they represent vital components of the cannabis plant, such that are increasingly being extracted and utilized for a variety of purposes.