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Comparing the Cannabinoids CBD and THC

Written By Ellese Symons Jul 13th 2022
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CBD and THC are just two of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. While the chemical composition of these two cannabinoids is the same, their structure is different. Since their structure is different, they do not produce the same effect.

Many people are initially concerned when they learn that CBD is extracted from cannabis plants. That’s likely because most of our population still associates cannabis use with marijuana, the cannabis plant that contains high levels of THC. Understanding the significant differences between CBD and THC could help alleviate your concerns about investing in the numerous potential health and wellness benefits of hemp CBD.

The Significant Health and Wellness Potential of Endocannabinoid Support

Both cannabis plants, hemp and marijuana, have the potential to interact with your endocannabinoid system. This vital communication system is a complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors that regulate nearly every essential function in your body.

The messengers, the neurotransmitters, of your endocannabinoid system are cannabinoids. Your body produces two main cannabinoids. These essential messengers are made as needed, interact with their corresponding receptors, and are broken down quickly by enzymes. If your body does not produce enough messengers to interact with the receptors as needed, the communication system cannot function effectively.

Your endocannabinoid system is so critical to your wellbeing that researchers today believe your endocannabinoid system is essential to maintaining homeostasis, the internal equilibrium that all living organisms need to maintain to survive.

The Messengers and Receptors of Your Endocannabinoid System

To better understand the effects of CBD and THC on your body, it is often helpful to understand a bit more about the messengers and receptors of your endocannabinoid system.

The two main cannabinoids created in your body are anandamide and 2-AG. They are referred to as endocannabinoids because the prefix "endo" is short for endogenous, which means that they originate from within an organism. There are also two corresponding endocannabinoid receptors. While both receptors are located throughout your body, they are highly concentrated in different locations. Consider the following:

  • CB1 Receptors

    CB1 Receptors are highly concentrated in your spinal cord and your brain. Their location influences their function. For example, the CB1 receptors in your hypothalamus regulate your energy levels and metabolism, while the CB1 receptors in your amygdala influence your moods and emotions. CB1 receptors are also found throughout your body in your nerve endings.

  • CB2 Receptors

    CB2 receptors are found in their highest concentration within your peripheral nervous system, the nerves that extend from your spinal column to the other areas of your body. The CB2 receptors of your peripheral nervous system regulate organ function, muscle movement, and the functions of your immune system.

Your Endocannabinoid System Responds to the Cannabinoids in Cannabis

For centuries, our ancestors recognized that cannabis plants, hemp and marijuana, provided significant health benefits. While cannabis has been used as an herbal remedy throughout the ages, the knowledge passed down through the generations was based on empirical evidence. No one really understood why cannabis seemed to alleviate so many health problems.

Today, researchers understand that there are two types of cannabinoids our bodies respond to, the endocannabinoids created internally, and the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. The cannabinoids in cannabis are called exogenous cannabinoids because they enter our bodies from an external source.

The exogenous cannabinoids in cannabis support the functions of the endocannabinoid system by mimicking the effects of the endocannabinoids produced in your body. While exogenous cannabinoids are broken down quickly, the effects of exogenous cannabinoids have been found to be stronger and longer lasting.

Many researchers today believe endocannabinoid deficiencies can be detrimental to your health.

The Significant Differences Between CBD and THC

CBD is the scientific abbreviation for cannabidiol, just one of the 113 potentially beneficial cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants. CBD is shown to support the functions of your endocannabinoid system without causing intoxication. While the oil extracted from marijuana contains a significant amount of CBD, it also contains high levels of THC.

THC is the scientific abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. THC binds with the CB1 receptors in your brain, causing the high commonly associated with marijuana use. Marijuana use can cause significant motor and cognitive impairment as well as significant side effects.

While the CBD extracted from marijuana contains high levels of THC (5-30 percent), the CBD extracted from the hemp plant contains only trace amounts. To be classified as hemp, the plant must contain .3 percent THC or less. This is not enough THC to cause any type of intoxication, even when hemp CBD is taken in large amounts.

CBD does not bind with CB1 receptors, that’s why there is no risk of intoxication. In fact, CBD interferes with the binding of THC to CB1 receptors, reducing the psychoactive effects of THC.

The cannabidiol extracted from hemp is considered to be well-tolerated. Hemp CBD oil is not known to cause any significant side effects, the risk of overdose, or chemical dependency. (Some users do report relatively minor issues including a dry mouth or fatigue). With hemp CBD you get all the potential health and wellness benefits of cannabis, without any of the negative aspects associated with cannabis (marijuana) use.

Supporting Endocannabinoid Function with Hemp CBD

CBD is not a medication. It is not a cure for any known health disorder. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has the potential to support the function of your endocannabinoid system. If you currently take medication or are under the care of a physician, it is always best to consult your healthcare provider prior to adding any dietary supplements to your current treatment. While CBD is a safe, natural product, it can interact with some prescription medications.

To learn more about the function and supplementation of your endocannabinoid system, visit CBDistillery to download The Ultimate CBD User Guide. We invite you to learn everything you can about this fascinating communication system, and the many potential benefits of supporting your endocannabinoid system with non-psychoactive hemp-derived CBD.