Where Do Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabinol Come from?
Since the legal use of medical marijuana and many cannabis products is becoming more frequent, consumers are becoming more curious about their efficacy in treating various medical conditions. Cannabis products include both cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. These two natural compounds are found in plants of the Cannabis genus.
CBD is extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants. However, the level of THC in both plants varies. THC is present in very trace amounts in hemp (< 0.3%), but it is present in higher concentrations in marijuana. Compared to THC, which gives you the ‘high’ sensation, CBD does not contain any psychoactive properties.
How do CBD and THC work?
Both compounds interact mainly with the endocannabinoid system, which consists of two main types of receptors: cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB-1) and type 2 (CB-2). Type 1 Cannabinoid receptors are more predominant in the brain, while CB-2 are more predominant in the periphery, particularly in the immune system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) can affect a wide variety of physiological processes including appetite, mood, memory, pain sensation, and immunological processes. Through this mechanism, cannabinoid compounds, including CBD and THC can exhibit their therapeutic effects.
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What are the similarities between CBD and THC?
Both Cannabidiol and Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol have the same molecular and chemical structure, and both are similar to the body’s own endocannabinoids. This is how both compounds interact with their designated receptors within the brain and in the immune system. What’s more, both compounds have been shown to elicit the same effects on the targeted structure, as both have been shown to alleviate pain, treat nausea and vomiting, manage convulsions and seizures, and minimise the inflammatory process resulting from many medical conditions.
What are the differences between CBD and THC?
Despite the similarities in their chemical structures, Cannabidiol and THC don’t have the same psychoactive properties. In fact, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. This means that CBD doesn’t produce the “high” associated with THC.
THC binds with the type 1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and that’s why it produces a ‘high’ sense or a sense of euphoria and ultimate happiness. Conversely, CBD has a low potency to bind with CB1 receptors. In addition, CBD can actually interfere with the binding of THC to CB1 receptors and therefore can reduce its psychoactive effects.
Is CBD superior to THC?
In short, yes! The number of therapeutic effects of CBD and the number of medical conditions it treats are far more numerous than those of THC. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), CBD exhibits no properties indicative of any abuse or dependence potential in humans. To date, there is no substantial evidence reporting any health-related problems associated with the use of high concentrations of CBD.
Moreover, the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) has highlighted a wide range of molecular pathways through which CBD can exhibit various therapeutic properties in the treatment of medical illnesses. In addition to that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2018 approved the use of Epidiolex, the first medication to contain CBD, in the treatment of definite forms of epilepsy.
CBD has been also shown to possess potent analgesic, antiemetic, antioxidant, antipsychotic, anti-spasmodic, and neuroprotective properties, especially in the treatment of depression. Furthermore, CBD has been reported to have very minimalistic side effects, if any. However, the results of the current research are not evident or substantial. Therefore, more research on human test groups is warranted to be able to prescribe CBD for the general population as a treatment for diseases.
What are the therapeutic potentials of both CBD and THC?
Cannabinoids, including both CBD and THC, have the potential to be ideal therapeutic options in treating various inflammatory neuropathies, as they can readily penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which inhibits various toxic substances from entering the brain. Through this mechanism, CBD and THC can access the brain, have low levels of toxicity, and exert their effects directly through the cannabinoid receptors.
CBD is being thoroughly investigated as preliminary studies have shown that it has various potential therapeutic properties for treating and managing the following medical conditions:
- Epilepsy and Seizures.
- Inflammatory processes, including Ulcerative Colitis (UC), Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and Osteoarthritis.
- Psychosis and mental disorders, particularly Depression.
- Nausea and Vomiting.
- Headaches and Migraines.
On the other hand, THC has been shown to have potentially promising effects on such maladies as:
- Muscle spasticity and rigidity.
- Decreased appetite.
- Nausea and Vomiting.
Herein, we will summarise the various potential effects of both CBD and THC studies in medical publications, as reported by those involved in preliminary human and animal studies.
|Therapeutic Uses||Cannabidiol (CBD)||Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)|
|Anti-ischemic (treats atherosclerosis)||Yes||No|
|Treats Anorexia nervosa/ Stimulates Appetite||Yes||Yes|