CBD Vs THC: The Health Benefits You Could Be Missing Out On
Medical marijuana, and cannabis derivatives are not as simple as they used to be. They are complex, confusing and often the information provided about them is conflicting. Different strains have been bred for different therapeutic qualities, and often people do not understand the specifics of what they are consuming. The differences between the two main components of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are profound and should be thoroughly understood by the consumer prior to use. Each has its own applications, uses and potential side-effects.
THC vs. CBD: Differences within the Body
At the root of it, what are the major differences between how THC and CBD act within the body? Even though they are both cannabinoids which are found within the same plant, THC and CBD interact very differently with the endocannabinoid system once consumed. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive cannabinoid present within cannabis, which interacts primarily with CB1 receptors. These receptors are found throughout the brain and central nervous system. The CB1 receptors are built to lock with a neurotransmitter naturally produced by the body called anandamide. This endocannabinoid triggers feelings of pleasure associated with food and exercise and also influences memory, pain and motivation. Because THC locks into the CB1 receptor, mimicking anandamide, it also influences these same areas.
Cannabidiol on the other hand, is unable to lock or directly interact with the CB1 receptor. Instead, it seems to regulate the effects of THC on the body by influencing the activation of CB1 receptors by THC. Basically, CBD reduces the time that THC is bonded to the CB1 receptor, and reduces the overall strength of the associated THC high.
What do these differences mean for you? Despite being from the same plant, THC and CBD have extremely different therapeutic benefits. Different strains of cannabis, or different cannabis derivatives, have been created over the past few decades to boost either their CBD or their THC contents. This leads to quite differing medicinal properties.
Health Benefits of CBD
One of the main reasons why CBD is now becoming a household word, is because of its ability to treat drug-resistant seizure disorders in children. This therapeutic benefit has offered such relief to parents all over the United States that it became a widely reported national news story. However, this is only one small part of the medical issues CBD has been able to treat.
Some of these medical properties include CBD’s ability to regulate your mood and its antipsychotic characteristics. As mentioned earlier, because CBD counteracts the CB1 activation by THC, it means that CBD acts as a powerful moderator for any potential psychoactive effects caused by THC. Researchers have found that CBD did not have any negative side-effects on either psychomotor or psychological functions (unlike THC).
There is also significant research showing the anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties of CBD. It seems to attack or inhibit cancer in various ways, such as inhibiting cell viability of the tumor, reducing metastasis, and inhibiting angiogenesis. There have been positive research findings with a variety of cancers, such as colon, breast, lung and prostate cancers.
CBD reduces vomiting and nausea, making it suitable for treating the various side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Other studies have found it beneficial for treatment of depression and for use as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
What has made CBD particularly popular and intriguing for patients, practitioners and researchers alike, is that it seems have little to no side effects for those who use it. This makes it especially appealing for treating seniors, children, and severely ill patients.
Health Benefits of THC
Before diving into the variety of medical benefits THC offers, it’s important to also cover the potential negative side effects, because unlike CBD, THC does have some. As the psychoactive component in cannabis, THC can trigger psychoactivity or psychotic episodes in people who consume it. Recreational users may be aware that it can cause paranoia and a “high” sensation throughout the mind and body. With this caveat in mind, there are many positive attributes associated with THC therapies.
Again, for recreational users, it's no surprise that THC is an effective sleep aid. It allows people to fall asleep faster, even when suffering from insomnia. In people suffering from sleep apnea THC can help moderate breathing and reduce sleep interruptions. Much like CBD, THC also helps reduce sensations of nausea and vomiting, often associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. By relation, it also helps increase appetite. Research is ongoing to determine how CBD and THC interact together or work independently of each other to influence these areas.
Since THC has a powerful influence on memory (often considered one of its side-effect), it has become an important therapy for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It helps reduce flashbacks, agitation and nightmares and in many countries, THC treatment is a government approved therapy for PTSD. Other, lesser known benefits of THC are its ability to improve breathing problems caused by Asthma, its use in treating glaucoma, and as a strong pain reliever.