THC and CBD: What’s the difference?

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With marijuana legalization becoming mainstream, what is the actual difference between THC and CBD?
Inside you right now, there’s a biological pathway at work called the endocannabinoid system. Which helps regulate your mood, appetite, memory and pain sensation. THC and CBD hijack this system.
THC is known as tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is known as cannabidiol, both chemical structures are almost identical. They have a molecular formula which is C21H30O2.

Differences between THC and CBD

The small, yet, crucial difference is in it’s biochemistry. In the images of the chemical structures the difference can be seen. Where THC contains a cyclic ring, CBD contains a hydroxyl and this difference in biochemistry actually controls whether or not you feel high.

CB1 Receptor & Anandamide

In order to fully understand why, you need to first know about the CB1 receptor.
In your “un-stoned” sober body your CB1 receptor is affected by a neurotransmitter called an Anandamide. Which controls generation of pleasure, motivation and feeding behavior. In your sober body, Anandamide is released after exercising and it’s what causes a runner’s high.
THC structure is so similar to Anandamide that it fits in perfectly to the CB1 receptor. Therefore, causing you to feel high.

Have you ever been too high? We’ve got a full article on this subject right here.

CBD on the other hand, because of the hydroxyl group, is different in shape and does not fit into the CB1 receptor. Therefore, it doesn’t make you feel high. But, CBD does bind to other receptors in your cannabinoid system, affecting you in other ways.

CBD effects on the body

A lot of excitement came around a 2011 study where a few dozen people with social anxiety disorder were asked to speak in front of a large audience. Some were given CBD; some were given a placebo. Those who were given CBD reported significantly less anxiety.
There are also many animal studies showing CBD’s anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. Which can explain why some people say it helps with their anxiety and with chronic pain.
Research is also discovering that THC can actually aggravate psychotic symptoms, while CBD on the other hand may help with psychosis.

Whats happens when I consume THC and CBD together?

So what happens when you consume them at the same time? One study found that due to CBD’s biochemical shape it can actually bind to the CB1 receptor and turn it off. In a binding pattern known to biologists as allosteric inhibition.
THC and CBD difference, smoke.
This means that CBD actually makes the THC unable to bind as well and therefore decreases how high you feel.
If you vaporize marijuana with 25% THC 0.1% CBD, you will feel high. As the THC is going to bind to the CB1 receptor. With little interference from CBD.
If you consume marijuana with 25% THC and 12% CBD. This CBD will inhibit the THC from binding to the CB1 receptor. Decreasing the THC effect and leading you to being less high.
Where marijuana is legally sold likely they will indicate what percentage of THC and CBD is in the product you are choosing. Which will help you to understand the effects it will have on your body.

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In the end; THC is a chemical found in marijuana with a chemical structure that makes you feel high. CBD is a chemical found in marijuana with a different chemical structure that doesn’t make you feel high, but it can affect your body in other less obvious ways.
THC and CBD difference, smoke.
There is still conflicting research and a lot more to understand about both chemicals. But with more states and countries legalizing marijuana. Hopefully increased research can uncover more details about how these two chemicals affect us.


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