CBD vs. THC
What are the differences between CBD and THC?
CBD and THC are the two most abundant of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. They both interact with the endocannabinoid system but elicit different natural effects.
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in Cannabis, the plant genus that includes both hemp and marijuana. While there are over 100 different cannabinoids so far identified in cannabis by scientists, CBD and THC are by far the most extensively studied and best understood.
CBD and THC both interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system, a vital signaling system responsible for regulating a wide array of functions, some of which include:
- Immune response
- Cycles of cellular life and death
Their chemical makeups are similar to the body’s own endocannabinoids, which allows them to interact with the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors to alter the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Despite their similarities, CBD and THC have distinct differences that influence how they interact with the endocannabinoid system and subsequently the natural effects they elicit.
Here we compare the two cannabinoids – THC Vs. CBD.
Psychoactive Vs. Non-Psychoactive
One of the key differences between CBD and THC is whether the cannabinoid will cause a euphoric effect, or “high,” when consumed.
THC is the cannabinoid people think of when they think of marijuana. It is a direct agonist of the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1), found primarily in the brain and the central nervous system. The psychoactive effect that most associate with recreational or medical marijuana use is exclusively brought about by activating CB1receptors.
CBD doesn’t bind with CB1 receptors and is actually is considered an antagonist of CB1agonists. This not only means that CBD can never cause a high, no matter how much is consumed, but that it also acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of compounds like THC.
THC Dominates Marijuana, CBD Dominates Hemp
CBD and THC are both found throughout the seeds, stalks, and flowers of both hemp and marijuana. The two exist in cannabis plants in a wide range of proportions. However, while THC is most plentiful in marijuana, CBD is present in higher quantities in hemp.
In marijuana, THC dominates the plant’s chemical makeup. Marijuana is generally cultivated specifically to maximize its THC content. Over many decades, marijuana has been manipulated and cloned with particular emphasis on increasing its THC concentration and producing more powerful intoxicating effects. While THC content can be as low as 3 percent in marijuana, on average, marijuana strains today contain approximately 12 percent THC.
Hemp’s chemical makeup, on the other hand, is dominated by CBD. By definition, hemp’s THC content is no more than 0.3 percent, nearly 10 times less than the least potent strain of marijuana. Instead, hemp naturally has more CBD vs. THC, making it an ideal source of CBD from cannabis.
Different Atomic Arrangement
CBD and THC are considered structural isomers, which means they share the same chemical composition but their atomic arrangements differ. The two compounds share a molecular formula of C21H30O2 and molecular weights of 314.4 g/mol.
The atomic arrangements of the two cannabinoids differ slightly. Both CBD and THC are considered cyclic compounds, which means one or more series of atoms in the compounds are connected to form a ring. CBD comes with an open ring with a hydroxyl and alkene group, while THC supports a closed ring with an ester group.