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CBD vs. THC: Which Is Right For You?

Feb, 2022
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Even the most dedicated cannabis enthusiasts may lack knowledge when it comes to CBD vs THC – but it’s not too late to get the scoop. These natural chemical compounds are the two most active ingredients in marijuana, providing the body with medical benefits and contributing to the effects you experience upon consumption. 

Learning more about cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) can help you make the most informed decision when choosing a cannabis product. What effects do you want to experience? How would you like the plant to help you? Here we will overview CBD vs THC effects, CBD vs THC anxiety uses, and ultimately answer the question: what’s the difference between CBD and THC? 

CBD vs THC

CBD vs THC Fundamental Differences

Cannabis plants contain more than 120 different phytocannabinoids. Of these, the two most significant are CBD and THC. CBD and THC consist of an identical chemical formula, and often work hand in hand to benefit patients physically and mentally. Even though they are typically found in cannabis products together, the two cannabinoids can produce very different effects. Thus, consumers can enjoy them separately.

THC and CBD are isomers (compounds that contain exactly the same number of atoms), which means that they share the same chemical formula (C21H30O2) with different chemical structures. Their chemical structures make them unique, so unique that one cannabinoid generates psychoactive effects (gets you high) while the other does not.

So what’s the difference between CBD and THC? CBD and THC bind differently with the receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which play an important role in the central nervous system’s development. THC binds with the two main receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2, while CBD alone binds very weakly to these receptors. CBD needs THC to bind to the CB1 receptor. 

Depending on the particular plant, either THC or CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana. For example, the cannabis sativa plant is classified by its CBD and THC content, separated into three categories. 

Does hemp have THC or CBD? Both, but more CBD than THC. Type III cannabis sativa contains less than 0.3% THC and more than 0.5% CBD, which classifies it as hemp.

CBD

What does CBD stand for? CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the main chemical compounds you'll find in the cannabis sativa plant. CBD has become increasingly popular over the years and isn’t only found in dispensaries, but is often even sold in tinctures and vapes at your local health and wellness store. How did one of the most prevalent properties of marijuana become so accessible? It’s simple, CBD alone doesn’t get you high. 

This makes CBD great for individuals who are seeking relief but don’t want the psychoactive effects. (CBD is still considered psychoactive, but the effects are so mild it doesn’t cause impairment.)

The cannabinoid interacts with neuroreceptors in your endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate your movement, mood, and immune system. CBD is known to treat or alleviate a plethora of symptoms caused by medical ailments, such as inflammation, anxiety-related disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, addiction, and even epilepsy syndromes

As of now, the only CBD product approved by the FDA is a prescription oil called Epidiolex. Patients use it to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, and in some cases has stopped seizures completely. But you can still find safe relief, even for severe epilepsy syndromes, in non-prescription cannabis products.

And how long does CBD stay in your system? This depends on the patient’s dosage, frequency of use, and metabolism. The estimated half-life of CBD is two to five days for patients who take a daily oral dose. 

THC

THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the other most prevalent chemical compound you'll find in cannabis sativa. CBD vs THC effects differ mainly in their power to produce an intoxicating feeling. Delta 9 THC is what produces the psychoactive effects, or the high when consuming marijuana. (Delta 8 THC also contributes psychoactive effects, but it is much less abundant in cannabis.)

THC is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, producing effects that can be useful for treating a variety of medical conditions, like nausea, pain, and symptoms of mental illness. Some studies show that THC has antidepressant-like effects, uplifting the mood of patients suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD. 

THC can often lead to relaxation and sleepiness in a number of patients, but for some, especially those with less cannabis experience or those who struggle with anxiety, THC can cause paranoia or panic. CBD vs THC anxiety uses really depend on the patient and their standard anxiety level, which could be brought to the forefront upon consuming THC.

CBD vs THC

CBD vs THC Effects

So what’s the difference between CBD and THC, and which is best for you? CBD or THC? Maybe both? 

CBD vs THC effects in the body often differ, but might work best when consumed together for some uses. Although both cannabinoids are beneficial on their own, studies show that cannabis products that contain THC offer better pain relief than products that only contain CBD. But how do you counteract the potential negative side effects of THC, like panic attacks?

CBD has been shown to reduce the side effects of THC, like anxiety, hunger, and sedation. So when looking for a cannabis product, it is helpful to start out with something high in CBD and not so high in THC (although the THC level will likely still be higher than the CBD level.) As time progresses and you begin experimenting more, you will be able to distinguish what is working for you and what isn’t.

When using a topical on the skin for pain and inflammation, you can integrate both THC and CBD for best results, allowing them to work their best without any psychoactive effects.

LEARN MORE: Medical Marijuana vs. Recreational Marijuana

CBD vs THC Anxiety

CBD vs THC anxiety uses vary from person to person. For some patients, THC is a breath of fresh air, offering relaxation and stress relief. While others, typically those who already struggle with some level of anxiety, might get paranoid or anxious from consuming THC (usually fairly high amounts.) 

Because of this, consuming CBD is usually a safe bet for treating anxiety. Studies show that CBD works as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD. 

So what’s best for treating anxiety, THC or CBD? This really depends on the person. THC works alongside CBD, enhancing the other’s effects, which may include anxiety relief. If CBD alone is not achieving anxiety relief for you, you might try out a cannabis product that also contains THC. But if you are already anxious and not in the right headspace to experience psychoactive effects, stick to CBD.

In some states, you can qualify for an MMJ card because of anxiety. Click here to find out where.

CBD vs THC Appetite

Does THC or CBD increase appetite? Marijuana is known to stimulate appetite, but what cannabinoid is actually responsible for that? THC interacts with receptors that increase appetite, while CBD works indirectly to potentially stimulate hunger. If your nausea or anxiety causes a lack of appetite, CBD might allow you to eat more by treating those ailments. Severe appetite loss is a common symptom of many chronic illnesses, like cancer, HIV/AIDS, and more. 

How to Consume CBD or THC

CBD vs THC

THC products typically contain CBD, but there are many stand-alone CBD products. CBD comes in many forms, including tinctures typically administered under the tongue, edibles, beverages, vapes, and topicals for use on the skin.

You can consume THC products by inhaling dried flower, concentrates, edibles, beverages, tinctures, topicals, and capsules.

For accurate dosing when consuming THC or CBD, patients can use a tincture (or a dropper), an edible, or a drinkable weed beverage to choose exactly how much product they are getting.

Drug Testing

Will CBD and THC show up on a drug test? Yes, typically THC will. CBD, on the other hand, will not, unless you are taking a CBD-specific drug test. So if you fear your job might drug test you, make sure there is no THC in your CBD product. 

Avoid products labeled “full-spectrum CBD oil,” which may contain small amounts of THC, and look for “CBD isolate,” instead. Isolates contain CBD alone. 

For CBD that is completely rid of THC while retaining the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the plant, keep an eye out for “broad-spectrum CBD.”

Whether it’s THC or CBD, We’re Here to Elevate Your Cannabis Experience

So what’s the difference between CBD and THC? Hopefully, now you know how both cannabinoids affect the body. When choosing a cannabis strain, it is important to keep in mind the CBD and THC levels, as well as the terpenes the strain contains to find the cannabis product that is best for you. 

If you plan to try THC or CBD, make sure that you are getting it from a reliable source like a dispensary. To do that, you’ll need your medical marijuana card – that’s where we come in. Elevate Holistics is a 100% online, simple process to get your MMJ card. We connect you with a certified cannabis physician via video chat and can help you every step of the way.

It’s quick and easy, book an appointment with Elevate Holistics to get your medical marijuana card today.


Patient Resources: Cannabinoids