In a sense, the active ingredients are relatives insofar as they are both cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. CBD and THC also have a similar molecular structure, but the atoms are arranged differently.
It is also true that both CBD and THC interact with the human body's endocannabinoid system, which can affect many different processes in the body. Both CBD and THC work with cannabinoid receptors that release neurotransmitters in your brain. These transmitters can affect processes such as mood, sleep, memory and pain.
However, the way they interact is different and that's why the effect is different.
But what exactly are these acronyms and how does their effect differ?
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known for producing a ‘high’. The substance is psychoactive and intoxicating, and can cause cognitive and motor function impairment.
The euphoric and happy feeling is due to the blocking of the messenger substance GABA. This causes an excessive release of dopamine as a chain reaction. That is why consumers are so happy and find everything very amusing.
The effect of THC lasts for about 2 hours and occurs about 10-30 minutes after ingestion. However, some side effects are also triggered, which are fairly well known.
What is CBD?
CBD is the acronym given to the active ingredient cannabidiol, which also belongs to the phytocannabinoids family and is one of the main active ingredients of the cannabis plant.
CBD has come to the fore due to its promising effects, which according to several studies could help with various conditions.
Nevertheless, research is still in its infancy and must be read with caution. CBD is also said to have analgesic, antispasmodic and antidepressant properties.
Unlike THC, CBD binds with receptors much more weakly and in most cases only inhibits them and other messenger substances.
In contract to THC, CBD in no way leads to intoxication and does not make you high. There is also no psychoactive effect. According to the WHO, CBD is considered safe. High-CBD strains tend offer relaxation whilst keeping a clear-head and continued ability to function.
It is also possible that CBD can interactwith other drugs. CBD is broken down in the liver, which inhibits certain enzymes that are responsible for the breakdown of medication. If you are already taking medication, it is advisable to consult your doctor before using CBD.
CBD vs THC comparison in summary
No psychoactive effect and doesn't make you high
Does not lead to addiction
Interacts with the endocannabinoid system
Only weakly binds to receptors and only inhibits messenger substances
Few and weaker side effects (considered safe according to the WHO)
Purchase and possession legal if the THC content in the cannabis product is zero.
Psychoactive effect and can make you high
Can lead to addiction
Interacts with the endocannabinoid system
Binds to the receptors directly and can strongly inhibit messenger substances
Stronger side effects (can lead to paranoia)
Possession, sale, cultivation, acquisition is illegal
What is the entourage effect?
It can be advantageous to mix CBD and THC, as well as other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
This is due to what is called the ‘entourage effect’, which was explained by the neurologist Ethan Russo and considers the numerous interactions between different cannabioids, vitamins, fatty acids or minerals.
If you mix several substances together (like in a full spectrum oil), they can support each other in their effect. In this way, the user can tap the full potential of the different substances.
For this reason, one should also ensure that CBD oil contains other valuable substances such as fatty acids or other terpenes in addition to CBD.
THC could also be a very effective addition. Studies have also shown that a mixture of CBD and THC could be particularly beneficial for certain diseases.
However, the legal situation must of course also be taken into account here. Because CBD products that contain controlled substances such as THC must be sure to follow UK rules (e.g. if for medicinal purposes then should be obtained from a doctor).
Interestingly, the first and only FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved CBD drug is one that is used for certain types of epilepsy.
Epidiolex is mainly used in the treatment of two types of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome and can used for epilepsy sufferers from the age of 1.
Despite CBD being accepted as a conventional treatment for epilepsy, CBD is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law in the US.
Will CBD and THC show up in a drugs test?
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are stored in body fat. Therefore, they can still be detected in a drug test after several days or even weeks.
Although standard drug tests are not designed for CBD, if you are regularly exposed to drug tests for professional reasons, it’s advisable to discuss your CBD consumption with your employer in advance.
If it is important for you to have zero THC, always read the packaging carefully. Some companies that state their products are THC free, actually contain trace amounts.
What does the law say about THC?
According to the Misuse of Drugs, THC is a controlled substance.
Accordingly, and in the strictest interpretation of UK law, CBD products are only legal if they do not contain THC or are prescribed medicines. This is often viewed as a grey area and in truth the UK’s stance on enforcement of this law is relatively relaxed.
In terms of legality, there are has been some progress in the world, both with medical marijuana and marijuana in general.
Also in 2018, America passed a farm bill which resulted in the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp becoming federal law. In addition to this, more and more US senators being in favour of the legalisation of cannabis altogether. It is hoped that the UK will follow suit.
We know there are still many who associate CBD with marijuana (i.e. THC). And unfortunately, this could be hindering CBD's progress. As we've discussed, although both CBD and THC come from the same hemp plant, there are many differences.
Although the world of CBD is lacking in human clinical trials, there is much evidence which strongly points towards CBD being nothing short of a wonder drug. This is due to its general health and medical benefits and the treatment of various conditions. But also for the additional benefits it can offer.
For example, it has minor side effects which are relatively uncommon and is non-addictive. This is in contrast to opioids and other strong drugs which can have significant and severe side effects as well as a risk of addiction. For example, medication used for schizophrenia and depression.
CBD is used for numerous ailments, such as pain relief, including chronic pain and neuropathic pain, anxiety, insomnia and chemotherapy side effects. There are even some who claim it can cure cancer.
Despite being illegal and psychoactive, THC can also offer many health benefits. Research also shows that there could be a great advantage in mixing THC and CBD together to enhance the effects (entourage effect).
We sincerely hope that the people become increasingly aware of the differences between these two cannabinoids, and that the stigma of the cannabis stops holding back the progress of CBD. Watch this space!
The world is slowly beginning to realise the benefits of CBD. Human studies remain in their infancy but the results so far are extremely promising, and the success stories we are hearing are beyond inspiring.
We think CBD is amazing and we've made it our goal to provide you with the best possible information and feedback to help you decide if CBD is right for you. For our content, we research and evaluate the latest studies and sources from the multiple sources in the US and the UK.