CBD vs. THC, but first... What are they?
CBD vs THC, which one is better? This is a very common question whose answer deserves its own article. There are many things to consider in order to know what is best for us, but we better start by talking about what they are. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant. Both interact with our endocannabinoid system but in different ways and produce different effects. Cannabinoid receptors can be found throughout our body and are responsible for many physiological effects. Therefore it has been seen that CBD and THC, by interacting with these receptors, inhibit the progression of some diseases. Subsequently, it has also been suggested that some diseases are the result of a mismatch in our endocannabinoid system.
THC is the psychoactive element of cannabis and is what produces the 'high' for which it is known. However, it also has many other useful applications, such as treating insomnia or nausea. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive but has multiple medicinal properties as well, such as being a powerful anti-inflammatory. So, depending on what you are treating, one might be better than the other and more suited to your needs.
Differences between CBD and THC
Both CBD and THC can be used to treat similar problems, however, they are very different. The major difference is the psychoactive effect of THC. The best known effect of marijuana is that it drugs you. This is due to the high levels of THC present in the plant. Farmers genetically modify plants to determine the levels of each cannabinoid, thus controlling their effects to some extent. High strains of THC are more popular for recreational use, while high strains of CBD (or hemp) are more used for medical use.
Although THC has medicinal uses, CBD is advantageous in that it does not have unwanted side effects, such as the "high" mentioned above. THC is not present when CBD is used medicinally so the patient does not feel the effect of the "high". CBD is safe and non-toxic and has many of the benefits of THC, but without the psychoactive effect.
The dangers of CBD and THC
After extensive research and even at very high doses no notable negative side effects have been discovered for CBD. Some of the worst effects recorded are a slight dizziness and dry mouth.
THC does have many more undesirable side effects that can make it unpleasant for some consumers if it has to be used as a medicine.
Side effects of THC
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Slow response times
- The psychoactive or "high" effect
- Memory loss
- Coordination problems
- Increased heart rate
A notable side effect of THC is that it increases the heart rate. This makes it unsuitable for people with high blood pressure or heart problems. CBD, on the other hand, does not have this effect.
Another disadvantage of THC as a medicine is that it is not suitable for all ages. Using high levels of THC for long periods of time at an early age can have serious effects on brain development. Studies have shown that young THC users are at greater risk of developing psychosis.
CBD and THC administration techniques
Both CBD and THC can be administered in the same way, so it really depends on the use:
Dyes - They are ethanol-based cannabis extracts, usually a golden-brown liquid dosed with a dropper, so it is good for sublingual use, or for addition to food.
Smokeable products - Cannabis or hemp flower can be smoked for an instant effect. However, the long-term side effects of smoking are quite serious and would not be considered a healthy option.
Edibles - CBD and THC can be added to foods such as jelly beans or brownies for a slower but more complete experience. Foods tend to take longer to take effect, but can be much stronger. They should be taken with caution as exact dosing is very difficult.
Oils - Cannabis extract can be added to various types of oils to be taken sublingually. This method is very useful for dosing as the cannabinoid content can be controlled more precisely. The oil can be taken with a pipette under the tongue for faster absorption or it can be put in capsules for slower release.
Hemp Teas - The raw material of the cannabis or hemp plant can be dried, crushed and boiled with hot water. The absorption of both CBD and THC is best when some type of fat is present, such as milk. This method is good for a slow release of small doses.
Creams and ointments- Cannabis and hemp extracts can be added to creams and gels to be applied directly to the skin. This technique is perfect for skin problems, muscle pain or joint inflammation.
Management techniques should be chosen in relation to what is being attempted and each has unique benefits. Each method can be used alone or in combination with others to produce different effects.
Legality regarding CBD and THC
Another difference to keep in mind is that the legality of both CBD and THC can change by country. It is important to know what your legal status is before you start treatment. CBD is legal almost everywhere, as long as there is less than 0.2% of THC present. Because it is not psychoactive or addictive, it is considered safe to use.
Due to the multiple side effects of THC, both negative and positive, it is considered illegal for recreational use in most parts of the world. The medical application of marijuana is gradually becoming legal in more parts of the world thanks to the increased research being done on its benefits.
So which is better, CBD or THC?
In short, there is no simple answer to this question. It depends largely on your age, health (physical and mental), condition, location and more. There are so many variables to consider that the best way to start is to research as much as possible. Seek the advice of medical professionals and experts, if possible, to discuss whether cannabinoid treatment is right for you.
Fletcher, J. (2019). CBD vs. THC: Differences, benefits, and effects. [online] Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325871.php [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].
Bagot, K., Milin, R. and Kaminer, Y. (2019). Adolescent Initiation of Cannabis Use and Early-Onset Psychosis. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25774457 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].