The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different cannabinoids. Yet when it comes to the uses and benefits of cannabis, almost all the discussion centers on just two of them, CBD and THC.
We all know the basic story. CBD is the non-psychotropic cannabinoid that is found in the you can buy in a whole range of alternative health stores. It has a range of claimed benefits, from relieving stress to easing inflammation to treating skin conditions. THC, on the other hand, is the cannabinoid that gets you high and is found in weed, edibles and so on.
However, the truth is a little more complicated than that. Whatever your reason for using cannabis, recreational or medicinal, and whether you are growing plants from marijuana seeds or buying it over the counter, it is important to understand the benefits of CBD and THC, both individually and in combination.
CBD and its benefits
Cannabidiol is one of the primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. It is found in both medical cannabis and industrial hemp. However, while some cannabinoids are present in other plants, CBD is only found in cannabis. CBD and THC both interact with receptors in the endocannabinoid system, a complex network of neurotransmitters that impact various bodily processes including, but not limited to, pain, mood, sleep, appetite and memory.
Specifically, CBD interacts with receptors in a way that is still not fully understood to trigger certain reactions. These include relieving anxiety, better focus, analgesic effects, reducing inflammation and more. The fact that it does so without any psychotropic effects, meaning it will not get you “high” makes CBD ideal for therapeutic use.
It is important to remember that medical research is still ongoing into CBD’s health-giving properties, and most evidence at present is purely anecdotal. However, that does not make it any less compelling, and thousands have reported that CBD has helped with a wide range of medical conditions. These include chronic pain, arthritis, epilepsy, skin conditions, Parkinson’s Disease, IBS, heart disease and others.
Medical uses for THC
THC is not just a recreational cannabinoid for pot heads and stoners. It also has important medical properties, and these are often overlooked due to the psychotropic effects. THC actually has exactly the same chemical formula as CBD, but with the atoms taking a different structure. These are known as isomers; if you remember your high school chemistry, CBD and THC can be compared with diamond and graphite, which are two different isomers of carbon.
This isomerism is what creates the difference between the two cannabinoids, and it gives THC its psychotropic properties. However, THC also interacts with the endocannabinoid system in fundamentally the same way as CBD, and can deliver very similar medical benefits.
Its strong interaction with specific neurotransmitters suggests that it is more effective than CBD in helping alleviate the symptoms of some serious conditions. Benefits have been reported by those being treated for HIV/Aids, multiple sclerosis, spinal injuries and digestive conditions. It has also been used to remarkable effect to relieve the symptoms of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
Again, it is important to keep in mind that many of these reported benefits are anecdotal, and formal research is still ongoing. However, both patients and medical practitioners are sitting up and taking notice of the dramatic benefits that THC can apparently deliver.
The entourage effect
If you buy a bottle of CBD oil online or in your local health store, you will notice that it actually contains a wide variety of cannabinoids, not just CBD on its own. This is not by accident. The entourage effect is a real-world example of the old saying that the whole can sometimes be greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, cannabinoids deliver the optimum benefit when they are used in combination.
So how does this work specifically with CBD and THC? The answer to that is not entirely clear, as this area is at the cutting edge of cannabinoid research. However, studies conducted so far have identified certain conditions that seem to derive optimum benefit from a combination of CBD, THC and certain other terpenes. For example, research published by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggested that the right blend could benefit pain, anxiety, epilepsy, fungal infections and even some forms of cancer.
In addition, there is the consideration that CBD can reduce the psychotropic side effects of CBD. After all, not everyone wants their medicine to leave them in a state of couch lock and giggling uncontrollably.