CBD & THC: What Are They & What Is The Difference?
In recent times there’s been a lot of controversy and confusion around the subject of cannabis (marijuana) and its associated oil, "Cannabidiol", commonly known as CBD.
This versatile extract from the cannabis plant has been proven to be effective at treating numerous ailments ranging from epilepsy to cancer along with powerful pain-relieving qualities. And this knowledge is nothing new. In fact, Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years!
However, cannabis contains another constituent scientifically called “Tetrahydrocannabinol” or THC for short, which has potent psychoactive effects, which when smoked or ingested can lead to the user experiencing a “high” or altered states of consciousness.
Hemp and CBD Oil have been legalised to a certain extent in many places around the world, and since then a multitude of hemp and cannabinoid products have become available on the market. So with this significant new development let’s get a few things straight…
What is Cannabis/Marijuana/Hemp?
Cannabis, marijuana and hemp are all just different names for the same genus of a flowering herb of which there are three main species:
- Cannabis sativa
- Cannabis indica
- Cannabis ruderalis
Believed to have originated in Asia, these plant species contain chemical components called “cannabinoids” of which the 2 most talked about are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
In popular culture, the names "cannabis", "marijuana", as well as other slang terms such as "weed", "grass", "dope", "bud" and "420" are normally used to refer to the plants used recreationally which contain high levels of the psychoactive constituent THC.
Hemp, on the other hand usually refers to the plants specifically bred and cultivated for industrial uses with low, almost negligible levels of THC, rendering it useless to those wishing to 'get high'.
|Yes||No||Low: < 0.3%||Grows easily in most climates & soil types without much attention||Industrial & Commercial|
|Yes||Yes||High: 5%-35%||Normally grown in carefully controlled conditions, including hydroponically||Medicinal & Recreational|
Supposedly due to the “mind-altering” qualities, most governments around the world classified cannabis as an illicit drug leading to its cultivation being banned and its possession or consumption criminalised.
Unfortunately, despite a ton of evidence proving that when used recreationally, its direct effects on the body are not harmful, in many jurisdictions, its use often carries heavy penalties, ranging from fines to imprisonment. For most people, any adverse psychological impacts, such as addiction or dependency are minimal, especially when compared to other "legal" substances such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Beyond the health benefits and mood enhancing qualities from certain types of cannabis, to confuse matters even further, there’s another variant called "hemp". When harvested the oils, fibres and seeds from hemp have a myriad of commercial applications from skin care and body care to clothing, construction, fuel and a 100% biodegradable substitute for plastic.
Additionally, it's an extremely hardy plant which can be grown in a variety of climates and soils types and is naturally resistant to most pests, meaning that it’s much more environmentally friendly, sustainable and doesn’t require pesticides or fertilisers like many other commercial crops do.
What are Cannabinoids?
These plant-derived compounds are unique to cannabis plants and are sometimes referred to as “phytocannabinoids” including THC and CBD.
Aside from THC and CBD there are more than 100 others which include:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
The Endocannabinoid System
Discovered through studies of the effects of cannabis on people, this remarkable body system got its name from the plant.
Made up of “endocannabinoids and their receptors, this system runs throughout the whole body and is partly responsible for regulating homeostasis (internal balance).
This system also contributes to the positive feelings experienced after exercising, which many describe as being quite euphoric and pleasant, additionally in this state the perception of pain is decreased. Commonly this is referred to as “runner's high”.
Normally extracted from cannabis plants with low levels of THC, CBD Oil, also known as "Medical Marijuana", is a natural remedy with a number of wide-ranging benefits.
Although also often marketed as a food supplement to promote health and wellness, its potential applications extend well beyond its nutritional and immune-boosting qualities.
What are the benefits of CBD Oil?
Relief of Chronic Pain
Probably the most well-known and noteworthy of all of CBD oil’s benefits is its pain management qualities. A bonus of using CBD oil to relieve pain is that it doesn’t cause dependency, tolerance or have any nasty side effects like traditional opioid-based pain relief medications.
People from around the world have reported great results in terms of relieving pain associated with the following conditions:
- Back & neck pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
Thanks to its anti-seizure properties, CBD oil has been reported to be effective at treating epilepsy and other neurological disorders in children. Studies have indicated that it can not only reduce the frequency of fits, but also the duration and intensity of seizures.
Anxiety & Depression
Known to reduce levels of stress in the body as well as stimulating “feel good” receptors, CBD Oil has been effective at helping those who suffer from anxiety and depression as well as associated conditions such as:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Fear of Public Speaking & certain other phobias
Cannabinoids in general, including CBD, have potent anti-bacterial properties which are particularly effective against “drug-resistant strains”. These have proliferated over recent years due to the over-prescription of antibiotics and other toxic chemical-based bacteria-destroying agents.
Several studies indicate that CBD Oil has anti-inflammatory effects that are particularly good for treating chronic inflammation, which is often a precursor for other more serious dis-eases.
Learn more in the blog: What is Inflammation & How to Reduce It In Your Body
A major contributing factor to many health conditions, oxidative stress occurs when the body is overrun with “free radicals” which can damage cells. In order to counteract this, “anti-oxidants” are required to help neutralise excess free radicals. Vitamin C abundant in many fruits is probably the most well-known, however CBD oil also acts as an antioxidant making it effective at reducing neurological damage caused by free radicals too.
Certain properties of CBD Oil can help to balance blood sugar levels as well as trigger genes and proteins that serve to break down fats and increase metabolism. As a result, it can assist those who are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight.
According to some studies, CBD Oil can not only reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and stress-induced cardiovascular response but also help to clear artery blockages. The anti-inflammatory benefits mentioned above are also good for preventing and improving heart-related conditions.
When used topically, CBD Oil has been noted to be effective at helping to alleviate the following skin conditions:
Beyond skin complaints, thanks to its many nutrients and vitamins it also makes a good moisturiser and skin protector and can also boost skin cell regeneration processes which can give rise to younger-looking skin!
As mentioned above, thanks to its ability to combat oxidative stress and inflammation which are both linked to the development of some cancers, CBD Oil can not only help to prevent cancer but has also been shown to slow the growth and spread of certain types of this increasingly common dis-ease.
In terms of eye health, CBD Oil has been shown to be effective at treating macular degeneration and glaucoma.
The medicinal benefits of CBD oil cannot be ignored and so hopefully it's just a matter of time before governments around the world recognise this and make it easily accessible for those who need it most.