The chemical structures and differences that makeup Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD)

What’s the difference between CBD vs. THC

Over the last few years, CBD and THC have been getting lots of attention. But what are these chemicals? What’s the difference between CBD vs. THC.? These are what makeup cannabis’s therapeutic and medicinal properties. But do they live up to the hype? And which one is right for you?

Also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Let’s break it down further in this blog!

Green cannabis leaf, difference between cbd and thc
Cannabis leaves 2019
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What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical structure that makes up the molecule found in Cannabis that is responsible for giving the feeling of being “high”. This effect and feeling are dependent on your exposure to the chemical and the tolerance an individual has built up to it. It can range from being a mild hallucination to just a fuzzy feeling in the background to everywhere in between.

People who are just beginning and younger adults, especially teenagers with developing brains can hallucinate because of marijuana, this extreme euphoric experience is more present nowadays because of the exponential increase in the THC levels present. The high the individual experiences are relevant to the amount of THC present in the bud.

THC structure difference compared to CBD
The chemical structure that makes up THC

Cannabinoid receptors are present in certain areas of the brain that control your thinking, memory, pleasure, and coordination. The THC molecule attaches to these receptors and they are then activated. Once the cannabinoid receptors are activated, they alter your perception of reality and create the feeling and emotions of being “high”. This can be accomplished through the act of smoking, vaping, taking edibles (THC is pre-activated), topical lotions and more. The most common method used is smoking the herb, which combusts it, and activates the THC. When using it this way the THC is absorbed in seconds through the lungs and its effects are fast acting. This being compared to edibles (eating it) which can the digestive system hours to digest and absorb the chemical depending on the person. That’s the main reason why people smoke it because they don’t have the time or patience to wait.

How does THC affect the body vs CBD

THC attaches to your cannabinoid receptors and stimulates the cells which release dopamine, this rush of dopamine then gives the feeling of euphoria.

It also disrupts and interferes with how your brain processes information in the “hippocampus”, this part of the brain is also responsible for forming new memories. This is why the main side effect of smoking weed is short-term memory loss or dissociation. The THC directly affects this part of the brain and if you’re a dependent or daily user of cannabis, your memory and “clearness” starts to deteriorate. Personally, after smoking cannabis for a prolonged time, you will just forget things when you are doing them. An example is when talking to someone, completely forgetting what the topic of conversation is or what you just asked the person. This can be very frustrating at times and is a reason people should be aware of how much cannabis they are actually consuming, and when it’s a good time to take a break.

THC one of a hundred “phytocannabinoids” found in cannabis BUT will not have any effect on a person without being activated first. This is a common myth when discussing the plant and its psychoactive components. People don’t realize the reason for “sparking up” and “lighting up” your joint. The reason is that for the THC to be activated the molecule has to reach a certain temperature. This temperature is about 150 Celsius or 315 Fahrenheit. This means you cannot simply get “high” by eating raw cannabis. It has to be transformed first into an activated state to have an effect on you. This process will be further discussed in a future blog!

CBD receptors and the difference between cbd vs thc
THC connects to the cannabinoid receptors and gives the euphoric high.

Why are THC levels rising

The level of THC in a strain directly relates to how present its effects will be. Therefore, scientists and researchers continue to improve and create with the goal of having the highest potency in these new strains. Now because of this “cannabis race” THC levels are becoming so high that the drug is becoming more and more effective for recreational and medicinal users.

BUT some people don’t want to have the feeling of being “high”. This is where CBD comes in! Cannabidiol is the other chemical property in the cannabis plant that produces a strong effect. CBD combats THC and depending on the CBD levels can reduce the high significantly. Wait a minute… So, what effect does CBD have? Well CBD doesn’t present itself in a “stoned or high” way, but the therapeutic and medicinal attributes are still there!

The THC potency levels. Difference in potency throughout the blogs.
From 1995 – 2015 we see the average potency has more than tripled. We know that in present day (2019) that THC levels now are up to 30%. That’s 7.5x more potent in the last 25 years!

What is CBD

CBD a.k.a Cannabidiol is the second main ingredient found in the cannabis flowers resinous buds. The benefit and medicinal benefit of this miraculous substance date back thousands of years, but now are finally being researched and studied from scientists around the world about the effects of them.

Some of the main treatments and uses for CBD:

  • Anxiety Relief
  • Chronic Pain Relief
  • Depression
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Neurological Conditions
  • Cardiovascular dysfunction
  • And more!

It is deemed a completely safe non-addictive substance. This substance is only found in the Cannabis plant. It is one of the hundred “phytocannabinoids” that make up the plants scientific profile. This compound directly affects the way a person feels while taking marijuana. You can get different strains of cannabis with higher CBD content to have a more mellow feeling without the euphoric effects.

CBD structure vs THC structure. The differences between them.
The chemical structure of CBD.

Let’s dive further into the different varieties of cannabis and the CBD levels in them. Cannabis growers have created cannabis strains that are high in CBD with less THC and vice versa. This mutation decreases the effect of the THC and gives the user several benefits. Further, these substances have been derived from their pure form to have singular benefits and concentrated effects. This is pure CBD oil and THC oil, both used for different purposes.

How does CBD affect the body vs THC

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It’s not “psychoactive” which means the effects don’t change your perception or alter your brain to be “high”. Instead, it interacts and alters your brain in uniquely different ways. Scientists are still trying to investigate and find all its potential uses, but we know it generally has amazing medicinal effects already being discovered.

It interacts with your Adenosine receptors

  • These receptors are associated with Anxiety
  • When activated by CBD it lessens the feeling of “anxiety”

It interacts with your Serotonin receptors

  • These receptors are associated with Happiness
  • When activated by CBD it has “antidepressant” effects
  • Helps to lessen the feeling of depression

It interacts with your Vanilloid receptors

  • These receptors are associated with Pain and Inflammation
  • When activated by CBD it reduces pain and combats inflammation

The effect of CBD is not what most people have an idea of. They think that CBD and THC are the same or when smoking/ taking marijuana that there aren’t different molecules present. But now we have the correct information and knowledge and can differentiate between the two.

CBD inside the human body.
How CBD impacts the human body.

What is CBD oil

CBD oil comes in many different forms. In places where it’s illegal, the only option is usually pharmaceutical cannabidiol, but we will dive into that topic in a different blog. Here in Canada, there are no restrictions so people can purchase both. The main difference is the price. Pharmaceutical CBD used for prescriptions can run up someone’s chequebook and can be highly expensive (estimated at $25,000 annually), but online shops and internet stores are creating alternatives for consumers. Companies have begun extracting CBD from the cannabis plants bud to make pure extractions of it. This can be taken in different ways.

CBD oil is just highly concentrated cannabinoids which are in liquid form. These come in little tinctures that can be purchased and used in a variety of ways. The most common way is to add a few drops of the CBD into your drink and just wait to digest. Another is to put a few drops in your meal and that’s all you do! It’s very simple and highly effective and because of this, new benefits and uses will be found and improvised into new products.

People can actually vape pure CBD extracts to get the therapeutic benefits of the chemical with no stoned feeling afterwards. This has created a whole new industry for people looking for healthy alternatives that are all natural. This alternative is great for people who like to enjoy the benefits at work or even just out in their daily life. New research and studies are constantly targeted towards this and we will be seeing newer products associated with this in the coming years. A company called “ignite” has actually created oral cbd infused toothpicks, cool right?

My aunt has been feeding her elderly dogs CBD during their meals to help with muscle and joint pain because of their age. This has reduced their inflammation and helped with their arthritis. Overall CBD has given them an increase in their happiness and overall boosts their functional health.

CBD oil effects compared to THC effects.
The many benefits CBD oil has on the human body.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the informative articles!
    Recently diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilytus and trying my own oils as I cant access them in my country.
    Using the cooking oil process I infused coconut oil with hydro buds from a friend.
    (Half cup oil and approx 5 grams of bud)
    Will the oil’s THC level or CBD benefits be dominant?
    Or is this all up to the strain of the buds used?

    Thanks again for the great articles.

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      The level of THC and CBD will be dependant on the potency of the cannabis you are using! Look into the strain and check what levels you have to indicate how your edibles will turn out!

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