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What's the difference between THC and CBD?

Updated: 6 days ago

This post is in collaboration with Apothetique Holistic. All information presented here is not meant to be used to replace traditional individual treatment plans with a qualified healthcare professional.

What is Cannabis, and what are the two most abundant cannabinoids?

Cannabis (Marijuana) comes from the plant family Cannabaceae, which includes Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. These plant species are thought to have originated from Central and Eastern Asia and have been used historically for their psychoactive and healing properties. Cannabis comes in many forms, including dried flowers, leaves, and oils. CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most commonly used cannabinoids in Cannabis products. In 2019, it is estimated that 48.2 million people in the U.S. used Cannabis at least once. Given the rising popularity of its use, it is essential to understand the potential risks and side effects of cannabinoid products.

How do THC and CBD work?

Cannabinoids exert their effects by interacting with receptors in various central nervous system regions. THC and CBD are plant-based, whereas anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2AG) are produced naturally in the human body. THC and AEA have structural similarities in activating cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, creating high dopamine levels and causing euphoria. Conversely, CBD is non-psychoactive and has more therapeutic effects, including pain relief, seizure control, and possibly muscle recovery. CBD activates the 5HT1A receptors and inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine, resulting in anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. Additionally, CBD prevents adenosine uptake, which has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties.

Which has more addiction potential: THC or CBD?

THC use may result in substance use disorder and potentially addiction. Approximately 9% (up to 17% for teens) of cannabis users become dependent or addicted, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that THC “ is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked, and abused illicit drug.” However, their stance on pure CBD is drastically different, claiming that “...cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” Therefore, CBD can be considered a safe cannabinoid.

“ its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.”

What are the short-term and long-term effects of THC and CBD?

The effects of THC and CBD may differ for each individual. Due to the psychoactive nature of THC, the long-term effects can be more detrimental compared to CBD. The most common withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, irritability, anger, disturbed sleep, depression, or loss of appetite.

The FDA’s role in cannabis products

The FDA’s Cannabis Product Committee (CPC) is currently working to implement a regulatory cross-agency strategy on cannabis-derived products to promote and protect the public's health. The FDA has already approved cannabis-derived prescription medications, Epidiolex (Cannabidiol), Marinol (Dronabinol), and Syndros (Dronabinol). We at VeganMed are happy to share that Epidiolex and Syndros are verified to be animal-free.

Cannabis-derived prescription drugs