The Basics of THC and CBD
THC and CBD are the most talked-about chemicals found in cannabis. But understanding what these chemicals are and how they work can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to the world of weed. This article serves as a crash course introduction to THC and CBD. If you want to dive straight into the deep end, check out our more advanced article on this topic here.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural chemical compound found in Cannabis sativa. After THC (which we'll take a look at shortly), CBD is the second-most-abundant cannabinoid in the plant. Because of its unique chemical structure and complex mechanisms of action, CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it doesn't cause the iconic "high" we associate with consuming weed. For this reason, CBD is not a controlled substance in many parts of the world. CBD products are a common feature in the wellness market, where they are available in many forms, such as oils, capsules, and creams.
General effects of CBD
CBD produces much milder effects that, if you're accustomed to the impact of THC, may prove difficult to discern at first. However, pay attention to your body's response to taking CBD, and you may experience:
• Calmness/reduced anxiety
• Relief from physical symptoms like pain, inflammation, etc.
• Improved sleep (if taken before bed)
• Increased alertness/mental clarity (when taken in the morning)
What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most prominent and researched chemical in cannabis. It has a chemical structure very similar to anandamide and 2-AG (two cannabinoids that the human body produces naturally) and can therefore act directly on specialised receptors in the brain and body (known as CB1 and CB2 receptors), but with much higher potency. When THC interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, it essentially kicks our endocannabinoid system (ECS) into hyper-gear, making us feel intoxicated or "high".
General effects of THC
THC has very noticeable effects that include:
• Altered sensory perceptions
• Altered perception of time
• Altered memory processing
• Euphoria and improved mood
• Creative stimulation
• Deep physical relaxation
• Increased appetite
• Reduced stress
Note that THC can affect people very differently depending on its potency, how and where it is taken, as well as a person's tolerance of THC, age, and sex. In some people, THC can cause negative effects that include:
• Heightened anxiety or panic attacks
• Nausea and vomiting
• Difficulty recalling/remembering information
Getting to know cannabiNOIDS
CannabiNOIDS can be derived from plants (“phytocannabinoids”) or produced naturally by the body of humans and other mammals (“endocannabinoids”). Cannabis is one of many plants containing phytocannabinoids that, when introduced into the body, can act on the endocannabinoid system and thereby affect a wide variety of bodily functions usually mediated by endocannabinoids. Currently, medical cannabis research is focusing on both of these cannabinoids in hopes of revealing their scope of therapeutic potential.
Are all cannabinoids like THC and CBD?
To date, researchers have isolated over 100 cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. While the most studied of these compounds are THC and CBD (likely due to their relative abundance in modern cannabis varieties), some research has also looked at cannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), CBC (cannabichromene), and even cannabinoid acids like THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid). Due to their unique chemical structures, each of these cannabinoids seems to have unique ways of acting on and affecting the body.
CBD and THC: two of the most important molecules in cannabis
Now that you understand the basics of CBD and THC, check out our more advanced overview of both cannabinoids to expand your knowledge of this ancient plant.