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As the world of cannabis continues to thrive, many more people remain in the dark on its medicinal and recreational use. It is simple, many more people are willing, are resorting to natural cures, cannabis being one of them.
This question can be answered with what makes up the cannabis plant. Naturally existing chemical compounds that make up its chemical composition are called phytocannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) take the lion’s share of phytocannabinoids. These are the most active and most helpful.
Image: Phytocannabinoids and its benefits
- Chemical composition
Did you know that both CBD and THC have the same chemical composition with 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and two oxygen atoms? This makes them more like fraternal twins.
Well, for chemistry greenhorns, an atom is the smallest part of a chemical element that can exist on its own.
Their chemistry differs a great deal when it comes to their chemical structure. The molecular structures of the two compounds exhibit a huge disparity which is the mother of all differences for the two phytocannabinoids.
Image: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vs Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Effects on the body
Owing to the difference in their molecular structure, the two compounds exhibit different interactions with the body's endocannabinoid system. This is noteworthy; our bodies have a system named after the cannabis plant. The system is made up of endocannabinoids that resemble phytocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and vitamins.
CBD and THC interact with the cannabinoid receptors differently. A striking difference is that THC goes into the endocannabinoid system to bring about an intoxicated feeling. On the other hand, CBD is not known to cause any intoxicating effects. CBD is known to reverse the psychosis effects of THC.
- How is this possible?
The endocannabinoid system’s main receptors are CB1 and CB2. THC interacts with both of them directly while CBD binds to CB2 receptors alone. CB1 receptors are located in the body and throughout the body while CB2 receptors are mostly found in the body’s immune system.
With different effects on our bodies, THC and CBD are both very important but in totally different ways. While THC is known to have massive health benefits, its psychoactive activity lets it down. However, when in low concentrations of less than 0.3% the psychoactive effects can be negligible but can still hold substantial medical benefits.
THC and CBD have two distinct uses; THC is mostly recreational while CBD remains the mother of medical cannabis. Some of the therapeutic values of these cannabinoids include alleviating pain and inflammations, combating anxiety and stress, and curbing epileptic and non-epileptic seizures.
The US Farm Bill 2018 allowed the cultivation of industrial hemp in the US. This proves to be a major point of discussion on the legality of THC and CBD in the world. Both of them can be extracted from industrial hemp and marijuana. However, CBD or THC from marijuana is illegal. In Australia, they are accessible only through the Special Access Scheme (SAS).
The two fraternal twins, THC and CBD, have the same chemical composition but different molecular structures. This seems like the start of their differences that will run deep into their interactions with our bodies, uses, and legality.
CBD does not cause a high and therefore it is safe to use. Despite its psychoactive effects, THC plays an integral role in medical cannabis through the entourage effect. Therefore, one cannot rubbish it as a whole. Conversely, it is what makes recreational marijuana.