THC vs CBD – The Synergy of Cannabinoids

The first written proof of using marijuana as a medicine dates back to 2900 BC when the Chinese Emperor Fu Xi noted that “cannabis was a very popular medicine that possessed both yin and yang”

As it seems, cannabis sativa has been used for both medicinal and recreational purposes for five millenniums now, if not even longer. Unfortunately, with the worldwide prohibition still going strong, which started at the beginning of the last century, we are mingling in an era of strict marijuana laws which make it illegal in most countries.

However, things are starting to change for good. With ever more states and countries legalizing the herb in one way or another, this powerful plant is becoming available to more and more patients in need.

For the past few decades marijuana has been catching the attention of scientists around the world who are more than willing to prove how useful this plant can be in treating a bunch of different disorders.

So, what exactly makes cannabis so powerful?

One word: cannabinoids. Cannabis produces cannabinoids, active compounds found inside the trichomes in the flowers and sugar leaves. These chemicals bind to the receptors in our nervous system making recovery processes of different conditions exponentially faster.

There are about 100 different cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, but the most popular today are THC and CBD. What is interesting is that both substances have proven their powerful influence on human body and mind.

Breakdown of THC vs CBD

In your journey through the world of cannabis, you’re probably most baffled with cannabinoids and their effect on humans.  Cannabis has been used by people for over 10,000 years and it was initially used for treating medical conditions and reducing their symptoms. The plant was even used by some of the Chinese emperors from way before 2,000 BC.  Talk about heritage.

But the main reason why cannabis has been so popular for such a long time:

Cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are chemical substances that are produced by the cannabis plant and they have many purposes, both for the plant as well as its users. There are more than 100 of these substances in each cannabis plant and they all have some positive effects – some strains less and some more.

However, the two most prominent cannabinoids in cannabis are THC and CBD.

What’s THC?

THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and is usually the most famous (or at least the most mentioned) substance of them all. If THC and CBD are to be personified into twin brothers, then THC would be the outgoing twin and CBD would be the national mathematics high-school champion.

Jokes aside, THC is the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant and is responsible for getting people high (euphoric). That is not to say that it is not beneficial for medical users.

THC tackles a wide variety of medical symptoms rather efficiently and is awesome at relieving chronic pain, increasing appetite & reducing nausea.

What’s CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is the second most prominent cannabinoid in most cannabis strains.

CBD is superior to THC at the variety of medical conditions it helps with and is a great substance for treating pain, anxiety and inflammations. However, it is most popular for its relaxing and bacteria killing benefits.

Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high (euphoric sensation or an altered state of mind) but rather affects and relaxes your body. It can be said that CBD is the primary choice of medical patients, depending on their illness.

How do THC and CBD produce effects?

What may be surprising to you is that THC and CBD actually fit into your body’s receptors like a glove.

See, human bodies have something that’s called an endocannabinoid system.

This is a physiological system that basically regulates your health by ensuring you are in the state of homeostasis (balance).

ECS essentially connects your body and mind, making sure everything is in balance and that no unwanted processes take place.

It does that through a series of stimulators and receptors and has the end goal to make cells in a certain area work as efficiently as possible. So, essentially, it is a system that operates on a cellular level.

The stimulators are called cannabinoids — they can be either endocannabinoids (produced by our bodies), phytocannabinoids (found in certain plants, like cannabis) or synthetic cannabinoids (produced artificially in the lab)

The receptors are called CB1 and CB2 — and they are scattered throughout the body. CB1 receptors are a part of our nervous system while CB2 are found in our immune system.

When a receptor get stimulated, it sets off an avalanche of cellular processes: autophagy, stabilization of nerve cells, reduction of pro-inflammatory cells and many more.

THC, for example, primarily activates your CB1 receptors, that are located in the central and peripheral nervous system. CBD, on the other hand, is more oriented towards promoting anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter that also activates CB receptors.

That explains why CBD has an antagonistic effect over THC (i.e. the higher the CBD concentration, the less psychoactive effects the user experiences).

Essentially, entire appeal of cannabinoids (and mainly THC and CBD) can be contributed to their ability to stimulate various receptors in our bodies and, therefore, regulate cellular homeostasis.

This, in turn, enables us to be happy, uplifted, euphoric and healthy when we consume cannabis products, such as dried flowers or concentrates.

What are the biggest differences between THC and CBD?

Even though both THC and CBD provide a wide variety medical effects, there is an important difference between them, that’s obvious right of the bat:

THC makes you high and euphoric, while CBD does not have any psychoactive effects.

When it comes to relieving symptoms, on the other hand, you should know that you can’t have one without the other. Therefore it’s good to know which symptoms each of them tackle the best.

Check out the table below for a full comparison:

EFFECT

THC

CBD

Relieves Pain

Yes

Yes

Reduces Inflammation

Yes

Yes

Boosts Appetite

Yes

Yes

Relieves Nausea

Yes

Yes

Relieves Cramps and Spasms

Yes

Yes

Reduces Anxiety

Yes

Tranquilization

Yes

Relieves Seizures and Convulsions

Yes

Yes

Promotes Sleep

Yes

Reduces Blood Sugar Levels

Yes

Protects Nervous System

Yes

Kills Bacteria

Yes

Restrains Cell Growth in Tumours

Yes

Yes

Helps with Bone Growth

Yes

Yes

It’s important to take these points into consideration when choosing your preferred cannabis product, just because it may mean the difference between being satisfied with your experience and being disappointed.

How to assess THC and CBD ratios and percentages?

You’ve might have heard it before, but cannabis has a biphasic effect on people. This means that low doses of cannabinoids produce one group of effects and high doses produce something completely different.

THC, for example, can make you paranoid in extremely high doses (especially if you are a novice user) and relaxed in low doses.

With volume out of the way, we can now talk about percentages.

You will see strains that have:

  • High THC and low CBD percentages — mainly used by recreational users, as they get you really high. The higher the THC percentage, the stronger and longer lasting the high.
  • High CBD and low THC percentages — perfect for medicinal users who want to experience multiple medical effects without getting high or euphoric.
  • Equal CBD and THC percentages — quite rare nowadays, but great for consumers who are looking for a minimal high with a strong focus on relieving symptoms.

As you know by now, CBD suppresses the psychoactive effects of THC, so if you’re looking for a more mellow experience either buy a more potent strain and consume a little, or buy a CBD dominant strain and have no worries.

Another thing that characterises every strain is that it has a certain ratio of cannabinoids, which make it what it is.

THC:CBD Ratio Effects
1:0 Very high psychoactive effects, uplifted emotions, uncontrollable laugh.
More prominent side effects for novice users.
2:1 Laugh and euphoria with calmer thoughts.
Mild side effects.
1:1 Biggest therapeutic benefits and tranquility.
Very few side effects.
1:2 Mild sedation and body relaxation.
Weak euphoria effect.
0:1 Antipsychotic and relaxing effects, great for therapeutic use.
No high effect.

It is extremely important to take THC:CBD ratio into consideration when buying a medical cannabis product, as it will help you tailor the experience to your exact symptoms and desired effects.

 

 

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