CBD vs. THC in cannabis
What is the chemical structure of THC and CBD?
How does CBD and THC affect the endocannabinoid system?
Is it recommended to combine both compounds? What benefits does it bring?
In which diseases is it worth implementing CBD and THC therapy?
CBD and THC are the most commonly known compounds found in cannabis. Importantly, they have the same molecular structure, but have different properties. Many myths have been created around them and until now – due to the low availability of reliable information about cannabis or the infamous marijuana rooted in our culture – we are very distrustful and skeptical about their use. We also used to call hemp “marijuana”, and these are actually different varieties of the same plant. So let’s consider the basic differences between CBD and THC in cannabis.
- THC is a psychoactive compound;
- CBD has no psychoactivity
Importantly, the paradox is that both substances complement each other. If we use them interchangeably, we can count on beneficial effects on many levels.
From a chemical point of view, both compounds are so-called isomers. What does it mean? Both have the same molecular structure, i.e. 21 carbon atoms, 2 oxygen atoms and 30 hydrogen atoms. The different arrangement of these atoms is responsible for the different effects of the substances in question. This translates into a different effect on our endocannabinoid system. Before we discuss this action, let’s explain what is hidden under this enigmatic epithet. The endocannabinoid system is a system of our body that is responsible for the course of many physiological processes. It regulates the energy economy and the system of neurohormonal and neuroimmunological connections. It is also responsible for the mood, motor skills, and also regulates the feeling of satiety and stimulates the energy economy. Of course, the above description of the discussed system is maximally simplified and presents only its most important aspects.
The cannabinoids that we obtain from cannabis affect the system discussed above in different ways. Cannabinoids produced by the body (called endogenous) can also activate the endocannabinoid system differently. THC strongly binds to the receptors that are present in the brain. The action of this substance can have a variety of effects: from stimulation and euphoria to anxiety or drowsiness. The strength of these feelings depends on the personality of the person using this substance, as well as on the amount of THC used.
CBD, on the other hand, is barely able to bind to our “brain receptors”, in addition to its strong binding to serotonin receptors. Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters that is responsible for our mental well-being and sleep control. Simplifying the difference in the action of THC and CBD, it should be noted that THC activates the work of receptors, and CBD works in opposition – it blocks this activity. The properties of CBD therefore work in a complementary way with THC, which we will discuss in the next paragraph.
In the previous paragraphs, we explained what CBD and THC are and what are the basic differences in their impact on the endocannabinoid system. In this paragraph, we will explain whether it is worth combining both compounds and on what levels their use is recommended. We know that both substances contained in cannabis can have a complementary effect. The effect of cooperation scientists noticed not only between the above compounds, but also between different components of hemp or among other cannabinoids. The benefits that we can list by combining these compounds are:
- action on many levels;
- increasing the solubility and assimilation of ingredients;
- maximum reduction of side effects due to overdose of psychoactive THC, due to the soothing properties of CBD.
Due to the controversies surrounding the use and cultivation of hemp, the substances in question are not too often and bravely implemented for general use. In medicine, however, we hear more and more often about the treatment of many diseases with CBD and even THC. Interestingly, these are often diseases that doctors have tried to cure with the most common methods so far. It’s also about cancer! Examples of diseases that we treat with these cannabis-derived compounds:
- neuropathic pains (hard to treat) – here patients were relieved by combining THC with CBD;
- depressive disorders – in this case, good results in the form of mood improvement and calming were brought by the predominance of CBD, in the proportion of 8:1 with THC
- pain and inflammation – a 4:1 CBD to THC ratio works best here
Interestingly, taking THC with CBD in a 1:2 ratio for recreational purposes is becoming more and more popular. It is important, however, that we always purchase selected hemp preparations from reliable producers, and that the product should be labeled.