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Switching From THC to CBD: Considerations & Effects - CBDistillery

Written By Ellese Symons Jul 17th 2022
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Throughout most of modern history, researchers struggled to explain the impact of cannabis plants on the body. By the 1990s, their collective efforts led to the discovery of a previously unknown regulatory system seemingly wired to respond to the plant's active components, the endocannabinoid system (Petrocellis & Marzo, 2009). Thanks to that discovery, we now have a much better understanding of the many compounds in cannabis, including the health and wellness potential of cannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). With so many CBD users reporting positive results for relaxation, better sleep, discomfort after physical activity, and more, many people are switching from THC-dominant cannabis strains to hemp-derived alternatives. 


CBD (cannabidiol) is the most abundant of more than 100 cannabinoids in the oil extracted from hemp's stems, stalks, and flowers. It works by mimicking the effects of two important ECS messengers produced as needed in your body, anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol). Unlike THC, CBD isnon-intoxicating. Whether you're looking for a way to cut back on THC consumption or eliminate the cannabinoid from your system entirely, the transition from THC to CBD can be much easier than you might expect.   


Considerations Before Switching to CBD 

There are many reasons to consider swapping cannabis products with intoxicating levels of THC for alternatives made with hemp-derived CBD. However, most evidence supporting CBD's use is based on the results of laboratory tests, animal studies, a small number of clinical trials, and the testimony of people claiming positive results. If you're currently using cannabis as a treatment for an approved medical condition under the guidance of an authorized physician, discuss your interest in CBD with your provider before switching. For some cannabis patients, the synergistic benefits of combining CBD and THC could be the better option because of their enhanced "entourage" effect (Nahler et al., 2019). 


For anyone currently using cannabis for its recreational effects, it's important to understand that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana can interact or interfere with the metabolization of several commonly used over-the-counter and prescription medications. The list includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) (MacCallum & Russo, 2018). If you have a medical condition or take medication, please consult your physician before adding any hemp-derived product to your daily routine. 


The Effects of Switching from THC to CBD 

Nearly 75% of adults in our country have access to legal marijuana, either by prescription or residing in a state that allows recreational use. Although an estimated 91% of Americans support federal legalization (Julia, 2022), many are stepping back and rethinking their relationship with THC-dominant cannabis strains. Some make the switch to hemp-derived CBD because they're uncomfortable with the way THC makes them feel. Others simply want to abstain long enough to reduce their tolerance. Whether you plan to give up THC temporarily or long-term, there are several effects of switching to CBD that are worthy of further consideration. 


You Can Stop Worrying About Chemical Dependency  

THC's chemical structure allows the cannabinoid to bind with a specific receptor in your brain, the ECS receptor CB1. Your CB1 receptors are found in their highest concentrations in your cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. When THC binds with this receptor, the cannabinoid causes a sedating, euphoric effect (Iversen, 2003). Its impact on CB1 receptors also inhibits presynaptic neurons in a way that alters the natural flow of information while flooding the brain with dopamine (Currin, 2020). Although numerous sources suggest THC is not addictive, many people eventually become chemically dependent. The cannabis withdrawal syndrome associated with THC dependence can cause irritability, nausea, anxiety, weight loss, poor sleep, and other uncomfortable symptoms lasting two weeks or more (Budney et al., 2004). CBD does not bind with CB1 receptors. Instead, it has an indirect effect. 


THC Metabolite Levels Decline  

Even in states where dispensaries sell THC-dominant cannabis to recreational users and medicinal cannabis is legal, many employers screen job applicants for THC metabolites. Candidates testing positive are often rejected. Although the intoxicating effects of THC subside in a matter of hours, cannabinoids are stored in your fat cells. When you burn fat for energy, the THC is released back into your bloodstream. Its metabolites can linger in your blood for more than two weeks and remain detectable in your urine for 30 days or more (Lowe et al., 2009). When you switch to hemp-derived products made with broad spectrum extracts or pure CBD isolate, the number of THC metabolites in your system should gradually decline because the cannabinoid is reduced to non-detectable levels. However, if you're concerned about the consequences of testing positive for THC metabolites, we suggest refraining from cannabis use entirely, including hemp-derived products of any kind. 


You Can Purchase Just About Anywhere   

As of June 2022, marijuana is legal in 41 states and the District of Columbia (Cannigma, 2022). But the laws are changing rapidly. As some states where the plant is currently prohibited work on legislation allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for pre-approved conditions, others are clearing the way for recreational use. However, current regulations specify that all legally obtained products be purchased through a limited number of dispensaries, a requirement that helps ensure consumer safety. With the exception of a small number of states, hemp-derived CBD products are sold just about everywhere, including department stores, specialty shops, convenience stores, and online. Since there's no risk of intoxication, you can start your day with hemp-derived CBD for overall ECS support and adjust your usage as your need change throughout the day without a prescription.   


How to Switch Effectively: What Steps to Take

If you're an occasional THC user, transitioning to CBD should be relatively easy. But with chronic use, THC can desensitize the CB1 receptors in your brain. Withdrawal symptoms can set in as your ECS receptors recover. Roughly 40% of people using THC regularly experience withdrawal symptoms.  For those using THC daily, current investigations suggest the number could be as high as 90%. The discomfort associated with THC withdrawal typically peaks within 2-6 days and can linger for several weeks (Bonnet & Preuss, 2017). Based on the results of animal studies and a 2012 case report, switching to products made with hemp-derived CBD could help your system adapt much easier (Crippa et al., 20013). Since the quality of the CBD oil and any other ingredients in the products you select can have a considerable impact on your overall experience, the following recommendations could help ensure a smooth transition. 


Know How Much CBD You're Getting Per Serving  

Many companies offer hemp-derived CBD. But not all companies are completely transparent. When you want a smooth transition, it's important to know the amount of CBD you're getting. If a brand relies on vague terminology like "maximum strength" or "highest potency" without providing verifiable information about CBD concentrations, a number specified in milligrams (mg), keep looking. Products with an undisclosed amount of "hemp oil" probably don't have enough CBD to be of any significant value. Ideally, you should see two numbers, the total amount of CBD in the package and the number of milligrams per serving. Hemp seed oil is not a legitimate source of CBD. 


View Third Party Test Results  

Industrial hemp is often used for soil remediation because of its remarkable ability to absorb toxins as it grows (Placido & Lee, 2022). Any heavy metals or pesticides lingering in the soil can contaminate the plant's extracts. That's just one of several crucial reasons reputable CBD brands rely on the services of an independent lab to ensure the purity and potency of every product offered. Since any company could claim their products are third-party tested, look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) before committing to a purchase. You can use this document to verify the amount of CBD in any product capturing your attention while confirming your selections have been screened for heavy metals, potentially toxic chemicals, and microbial contamination (Hazekamp, 2018). 


Find Your Ideal Serving Size  

CBD products typically have serving-size suggestions printed on their labels, an amount that works well for most people. But no two CBD users are exactly the same. An amount of CBD that benefits someone else could be considerably more or quite a bit less than the amount that's right for you. To find your ideal serving size, consider starting with a partial serving when using CBD for the first time. Then increase the amount in small increments as needed at a pace you're comfortable with. For some, that means slightly larger servings with each use, while others prefer waiting several days between increases to give their system time to adapt and respond. 


Are You Ready to Switch From THC to Hemp-Derived CBD?  

Based on the results of an internal survey, most people use our hemp-derived CBD products for better sleep, relaxation, and for stiffness, inflammation, and pain after physical activity. An impressive 89% also tell us that CBD helps calm their mind, and 88% report favorable results for mild or temporary anxiety. The cannabinoid does not cause intoxication or dependency, and most CBD users responding to our survey report never experiencing negative side effects. 


To learn more, visit CBDistillery® to download our Ultimate CBD User Guide, the number one resource guide for CBD users. Then take a few minutes to browse our selection of hemp-derived CBD, CBDA, CBG, CBN, and delta 9 THC-infused products. You can shop with confidence knowing that CBDistillery® has more than 2 million satisfied customers and over 38,000 5-star reviews. Plus, our products are naturally cultivated, and third-party tested. If you're interested in switching from THC to CBD but not quite sure where to start, consider setting up a personal consultation





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