What is CBD and how does it relate to THC?

CBD continues to gain popularity

CDB (Cannabidiol) seems to be a gift that keeps on giving, with its list of medicinal properties growing by the day. The popularity of the compound has been increasing steadily worldwide, as people become familiar with its benefits. For example, since hemp became legal in the United States, hemp-based CBD products have been flying off the shelves.

CBD is one of the two most studied compounds - the other being THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) - among over 100 chemicals known as cannabinoids that are present in cannabis. The compound is quickly becoming the center of attention in the world of alternative medicine, due to its mounting medicinal properties that are come with hardly any side effects. Its medicinal potentials are also earning an increasing amount of acceptance and respect in mainstream medicine.

Further, given its lack of psychoactive effects, CBD is being described as the official gateway to the world of cannabis. First-timers who want to have a feel of the therapeutic prowess of cannabis without risking the “high” or “stoned” effect commonly associated with the plant can start out with CBD. A lot of CBD product users become instant believers after experiencing the sudden switch to a deepened state of relaxation and/or rejuvenation, as well as a variety of therapeutic effects, on first use.

Further, CBD can be consumed in a number of ways, from tinctures to CBD-infused edibles and ingredients, lotions, vaping oils, nugs of CBD-dominant strains, and countless other choices. As such, the CBD market has seen some increasing, significant growth, and its products are being marketed as the closest thing to a 21st century elixir.

This is all great for the cannabis plant, but most who elect to accept CBD while having averse views against THC products might be doing so as a result of misinformation. CBD relates to THC in a number of ways, as THC itself isn’t only a psychoactive compound and CBD isn’t just a medicinal compound. Both share similarities in both categories - psychoactive and medicinal - and some would be surprised to what extent.

A map of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. CBD and THC interact with these receptors to provide their effects. Source


How CBD works in the body

THC is often viewed as the compound that’s associated with psychoactive effects. In reality, CBD also exerts certain psychoactive influences on the brain. The boundary between CBD’s psychoactive effect and that of THC is found in the concept of psychotropy, which refers to the alteration of one's perception of reality.

CBD's psychoactive effects cannot alter one's perception of reality - unlike THC which might result in panic attacks, paranoia, bipolar episodes and other mental issues. CBD takes effect on the body by bonding with CB1 and CB2 receptors, and myriad of proteins in the brain and nervous system which are responsible for regulating cellular activities in all parts of the body. As such, it can alleviate various symptoms of ails in the body, from pain, vomiting, and nausea, to substance dependence, anxiety, depression and lots more.

CBD can enhance functions in nearly every system in the body, including the digestive, skeletal and immune systems. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which help prevent cell degeneration due to neurodegenerative conditions. But it’s not alone in a lot of its medical positives - THC also has a number of healing effects.


The connection between CBD, THC and other cannabidiols

Hemp-based CBD products typically contain only a modicum of THC (0.3% in the United States). This low THC concentration makes hemp-based CBD far from being the most optimal form of CBD. According to extensive research, CBD must be combined with THC and other components of cannabis to perform optimally. This assertion is often framed as the “entourage effect”, or the “ensemble effect” as some experts prefers to call it.


CBD and THC are only two of over 100 cannabidiols present in cannabis. Source

CBD is proven to reach its maximal potentials when it's attended by the complementary effects of the other cannabis compounds. The suitable ratio of CBD to THC, along with other compounds in some cases, depends on the purpose of use. While some conditions might require a higher quantity of CBD than THC, the reverse can be more effective in other cases.


Final words

CBD and THC carry more similarities than most like to admit. While CBD is touted as the medicinal component of the cannabis plant, THC also carries a number of medicinal properties. While THC is touted as the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, CBD also has psychoactive effects. The distinction is mostly a matter of dichotomy, with whatever your definition of psychoactive effects ruling the day.

Like many other drugs, CBD products can produce different effects on different users, so it's always best to experiment to find out what CBD product works best for you. Nonetheless, it's never advisable to try out a new medication without first consulting with your physician.