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CBD vs THC – Understanding the Different Components

June 14, 2024

CBD vs THC: Understanding the Different Components

Cannabis is a complex plant that contains various chemical compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. It’s precisely this complexity that lends cannabis to a multitude of uses, from medicinal to recreational, from mind-bending highs to ultimate relaxation. 

However, navigating the nuances of cannabis–and the overwhelming options–can be a little intimidating, regardless of whether you’re an experienced cannabis connoisseur or just getting started. That’s why, when it comes to cannabis, it never hurts to get a little professional guidance.

The expert budtenders at Freedom Road can help you find your perfect fit. We’re a licensed, full-service dispensary and grow-house committed to cannabis education, carefully curated strains, and perfectly developed products, and we’re here to help you decide which road to take on your cannabis journey. 

Understanding Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant, particularly in two species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica. They are the active ingredients responsible for the physical and mental effects that come after you consume the dried leaves and flowers—or their extracts—of the cannabis plant.

So, how do cannabinoids work? Our bodies have a complex network called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is like a regulator, responsible for maintaining balance in different areas such as mood, appetite, sleep, and pain. When you take any form of cannabis, the cannabinoids interact with the ECS. They bind to receptors in this system by activating or inhibiting certain functions. This is why you feel different effects from consuming cannabis, like relaxation, euphoria, or the more infamous munchies.

Of the more than 120 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most well-known and studied. 

CBD (Cannabidiol): Nature’s Therapeutic Agent

CBD is found in the resinous glands (trichomes) of the cannabis plant. Trichomes are tiny, hair-like structures that appear on the surfaces of the flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant.

CBD produces no psychoactive effects, but it’s anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), neuroprotective, and anticonvulsant properties have pushed it onto the medical scene as an alternative option for managing various health conditions like anxiety, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and more, including muscle disorders like dystonia and seizure disorders like epilepsy.

CBD gained notoriety during the late 1990s and early 2000s, after several states in the U.S. passed laws to legalize the sale of cannabis for medicinal use. In 2018, the Farm Bill provided federal legalization of hemp-derived CBD products, which are available in various forms, including CBD oil, capsules, edibles, topicals, and even inhaled through vaporization.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol): The Psychoactive Compound

Like CBD, THC comes from the resinous trichomes of the cannabis plant. These tiny structures are densely packed on the flowers, leaves, and stems of female plants. THC concentration tends to be highest in the flowering parts, although male plants do have some trichomes on the leaves. 

THC is the most potent and well-known cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, and it’s what induces the feelings commonly associated with cannabis, particularly euphoria or the feeling of being high. This compound interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system by specifically targeting receptors in the brain and central nervous system. THC sets off a chain reaction of responses through this interaction, which can vary from person to person. Some might start to feel sleepy; others may have deep philosophical thoughts or experience food cravings.

While recreational cannabis users covet higher THC levels for its psychoactive effects, THC is also a potential remedy for various health issues. Studies suggest that THC may provide relief for conditions such as chronic pain, muscle spasms, and nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, particularly when used in combination with CBD.

Comparing CBD and THC

While both CBD and THC are cannabinoids from the same cannabis plant and interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, there are some key differences between them.

Similarities and Differences

Simply put, THC is the cannabinoid that gets you high. It is psychoactive, meaning it can alter your mental state and perceptions, leading to euphoria, relaxation, or even anxiety or paranoia in some people. 

CBD is non-psychoactive. It won’t make you feel high or intoxicated, making it the preferred option for those seeking relief without the altered effects.

Because of the psychoactive effects, THC is more highly regulated. In the U.S., many states have legalized the use of cannabis and THC-containing products for medical use, and some states have also legalized it for recreational use. 

Hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC were legalized in 2018 through the Farm Bill; however, a few states still consider it a controlled substance.

THC and CBD both hold potential therapeutic benefits, although through different mechanisms. They have been studied for their pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, anxiety-reducing, neuroprotective, and anti-nausea properties. CBD is generally well-tolerated with fewer side effects, while THC can produce significant side effects such as impaired coordination, altered perception of time, memory loss, and increased heart rate.

CBD and THC often complement each other in what’s known as the entourage effect, which suggests that when consumed together, they might be more effective than when used alone.

Treatment Options and Limitations

While there is some overlap in the conditions that are best treated with CBD versus THC, each generally has specific uses.

CBD is suitable for:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Sleep troubles

THC is suitable for:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Boosting appetite
  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation

CBD is not as effective for immediate relief of symptoms such as anxiety or severe pain. 

THC is not recommended as a treatment for anxiety or paranoia as it can increase those feelings. 

Which Cannabis Strains Are Best?

Different strains of cannabis have different ratios of CBD to THC concentrations. While many different cannabis strains are available, here are some of the most popular or well-known ones.

CBD-Rich Strains

Strains rich in CBD offer better medicinal benefits like pain relief and reducing anxiety. They still have THC but in lower concentrations and will have fewer psychoactive effects. Some strains with the highest concentrations of CBD include:

  • Charlotte’s Web
  • ACDC
  • Harle-Tsu
  • Ringo’s Gift

THC-Rich Strains

Strains rich in THC produce the strongest psychoactive effects like euphoria and altered perception. Different THC-rich strains may produce more sedative effects or energizing ones, so it’s important to know which you’re looking for. Some strains with the highest concentrations of THC include:

  • Grandfather OG
  • Brownie Scout
  • The Toad
  • Chiquita Banana

Find the Best Cannabinoids for You at Freedom Road

Getting the most out of your cannabis experience is both a science and an art, and at Freedom Road, our experienced and knowledgeable professionals have mastered both. We pride ourselves not just on providing exceptional cannabis products of uncompromising quality, but also on finding the perfect premium product for every customer. From high-CBD concentrations for ultimate pain relief to THC-heavy strains for ethereal effects, our budtenders can help guide you through our extensive selection to find the one that’s right for you. We also have plenty of resources for you to peruse on your own, including ways to enjoy your Freedom Road products, how to use cannabis for better sleep, and answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.

With locations in Colorado and Oklahoma, Freedom Road is everywhere you want to be with everything you need for a life well lived. Contact us today for more information on our specials, seasonal products, and more.