As the legal use of marijuana and other cannabis products grows, consumers are becoming more curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds found in plants of the Cannabis.
CBD can be extracted from hemp or from marijuana. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC, while marijuana plants are cannabis plants that contain higher concentrations of THC. CBD is sold in the form of gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and even flower.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation. It can be consumed by smoking marijuana. It’s also available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more.
Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects. While they may have a lot in common, they have some key differences that determine how they’re used.
There are many different kinds of cannabinoids in cannabis plants. And while researchers have only just started studying them, one in particular has already shown promise in regard to potential health benefits.
That compound is cannabidiol, or CBD. Unlike its cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non intoxicating, meaning it won’t get you “high.”
Research on CBD is ongoing, but still in its infancy. It’s not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Still, some studies have shown that CBD can protect nerves from damage and that it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory. It can also be used to help manage a variety of conditions, like anxiety and pain, which is one of the reasons I take it.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis.
Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:
reproduction and fertility
The ECS exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.
How does THC interact with the ECS?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis. It’s the compound that gets you “high.”
Once in your body, THC interacts with your ECS by binding to receptors, just like endocannabinoids. It’s powerful partly because it can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
This allows it to have a range of effects on your body and mind, some more desirable than others. For example, THC may help to reduce pain and stimulate your appetite. But it can also cause paranoia and anxiety in some cases.
Experts are currently looking into ways to produce synthetic THC cannabinoids that interact with the ECS in only beneficial ways.
How does CBD interact with the ECS?
The other major cannabinoid found in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make you “high” and typically doesn’t cause any negative effects.
Experts aren’t completely sure how CBD interacts with the ECS. But they do know that it doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors the way THC does.
Instead, many believe it works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. This allows them to have more of an effect on your body. Others believe that CBD binds to a receptor that hasn’t been discovered yet.
While the details of how it works are still under debate, research suggests that CBD can help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions.
To Sum it up
The ECS plays a big role in keeping your internal processes stable. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. As experts develop a better understanding of the ECS, it could eventually hold the key to treating several conditions.
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Sharma P, et al. (2012). Chemistry, metabolism, and toxicology of cannabis: Clinical implications. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572