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Through the years Marijuana has been a controversial subject no one can truly agree on how it should be used, how it should be grown or how it should be regulated. More recently have we only begun truly trying to utilize this medicinally useful herb.
Countless studies have been conducted on this infamous reefer plant showing us that the benefits of this weed are far more than we could imagine. Nowadays people that would normally struggle through day-to-day life with seizures shakes and/or tremors can find relief in this hearty herb within minutes.
First off, they are both the most prominent active chemicals in the Marijuana plant found today. Both of these natural chemical compounds are both very beneficial to the mind, body, and spirit. Helping to relieve everyday stress and pain so you can keep up with all the activities of your everyday life.
Here are the most common cannabinoids found in Cannabis:
THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): This acid is the parent of THC. THCA is non-psychoactive, but when exposed to heat or time, THCA will convert to THC. This cannabinoids is currently being researched for its effectiveness is combating nausea, seizers, and muscle spams.
CBDA cannabolic acid): This acid is the parent to CBD. Like THCA, CBDA is non-psychoactive and converts to its psychoactive counter-part(CBD) when exposed to heat or time. Studied for nausea, reducing inflammation and fighting cancer cells.
CBN (cannabinol): As the cannabis plant ages, THC will convert to CBN. Particularly useful in aiding sleep and also for reducing pain.
CBGA(cannabigerolic acid): A precursor molecule, CBGA turns into THCA and CBDA as the cannabis plant grows. In mature plants CBGA can be found in tiny amounts, with the remainder converting to CGG with exposure to light and air.
CGB (cannabigerol): Useful as an anti-depressant, muscle-relaxant and as a blood pressure reducer.
CBC (cannabichromene): Found only in small amounts , this cannabinoid has pain-reducing, antibiotic and anti-fungal effects.
Before we jump into defining Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), we will have to start off with introducing a very important specific type of brain receptors that interact with the two most prominent natural chemicals in marijuana. There are two main types Cannabinoid receptors located throughout your brain and then some. Here they will be addressed as CB1 and CB2, but we will only be discussing CB1 in this article.
What you need to know about CB1 receptors without getting into the scientific technicalities and medical details, is that the CB1 receptors are mainly found in Central Nervous System (brain), however it can also found in the lungs, liver and kidneys. CB1 receptors strictly bond with the THC chemical found in Marijuana producing the psychoactive properties.
Related article: How to choose marijuana strains - Marijuana strain guide
THC is the main chemical compound in marijuana that releases psychoactive properties within the CB1 receptors. It's accountable for a euphoric high both mentally and physically. THC strictly binds to the CB1 receptors throughout the body, relieving you of any forms of physical and/or mental pain.
When THC is brought into the body the CB1 Receptor immediately recognizes it and the chemical begins to alter your brain function and communication, what we call the euphoric feeling when we smoke. When scientists were first discovering the CB1 and CB2 receptors they realized that CBD and the CB1 receptor bonded less than or not at all compared to the THC chemical.
In 2016 a study had been conducted and the results showed that small doses of THC can actually benefit memory function.
When you are in a dispensary don't just assume the higher the THC the better the bud because that isn't necessarily true. THC works more efficiently in collaboration with CBD.
Related article: Can Cannabis Help You Lose Weight and Stay Healthy?
CBD is the second most prominent natural producing chemical in marijuana that has numerous medical benefits. There is more to this cannabinoid than just being the one that does not get you high. As the second most abundant cannabinoid found in the plant, CBD is in fact non-psychoactive. This is somewhat misleading as any substance that has a direct effect on the brain is technically psychoactive.
CBD isn’t an intoxicant. Unlike THC, CBD is not incredibly effective at activating the CB1 receptor. In the presence of THC, it has been shown to some degree to hinder receptor activity. Although research is still young regarding the effects of cannabinoids, their ability to bind to the brain means they can potentially enhance the experience.
A major feature of alternative medicines focuses on using the entire plant for medical purposes. This holistic approach has some merit. Mounting evidence suggests that a phenomenon called the ‘entourage effect’ results when the many components interact with the human body to create a stronger more synergistic effect. In particular, CBD can be thought of as the modulator of THC.
Related article: What is CBD? Is it legal? And does it get you high?
This effect would explain the use of CBD in medical studies, as it can be used as an aid to serious health issues without leaving the user intoxicated. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon, and CNN chief medical correspondent reported in one of his articles explaining The Entourage Effect in marijuana, "There are more than 480 natural components found within the cannabis plant, of which 66 have been classified as 'cannabinoids'. Those are chemicals unique to the plant, including THC and CBD."
It's important to know the synergistic effects that are experienced in cannabis are not exclusively attributed to THC/CBD. Terpenes play a crucial part of this, that's why some people prefer 'full-spectrum' concentrates because it will (supposedly) have the full synergistic effect of the strain, compared to THC/CBD isolates.
These terpene profiles cannot be 100% recreated in a lab because there are over 200 terpenes present (again, supposedly) in cannabis profiles but there are a number of isomers which haven't been identified. So even non-cannabis plant derived terpene blends cannot truly recreate cannabis profiles but can get pretty damn close. That includes mimicking most (if not almost identical) synergistic effects. This research paper has been the most thorough in explaining the benefits as far as I've seen.
Scientists believe all these components of the cannabis plant likely exert some therapeutic effect, more than any single compound alone. Although science has yet to determine the mechanism by which this effect takes place, the evidence is showing that these components can work better together.
This is crazy; although it's a non-psychoactive component, Project CBD reported in more in depth details, "the scientific and clinical researches - much of it sponsored by the US government - underlines CBD can be a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Including but not limited to; arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. And non-psychoactive aspect can be an appealing option to many who see organic treatment.
CBD has shown most promising for pain management. There will continue to be research into the specifics of CBD, but some studies have shown that CBD attaches to specialize receptors in the brain and immune system. CB2 is one of the receptors and more importantly serves an important role managing pain in the immune system. A study in 2008 suggested CBD and its effects could play an important role in managing chronic pain (check out Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain). With rapid legalization on the rise in the United States, it is vital to keep an eye on scientific developments.
In a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a wide variety of CBD concentrates sold online were inconsistent with their labeling. Of the products tested, 26% contained less CBD than labeled, which would have negated the intended health effects. Similarly, there is a problem with overlapping CBD products, suggesting a continued need of research and regulation (check out Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online).
Unlike THC, according to the United States Controlled Substances Act, CBD is not listed as a controlled substance. CBD is extracted from the mature stock of the hemp plant as well as the hemp seeds. You do not need a prescription to be able to possess CBD. A few states continue to outlaw the entire plant and everything coming from the hemp plant as well. These Anti-Hemp states include; Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia.
Unfortunately, CBD’s association with marijuana and THC creates confusion even in those 44 states. Ignorance is part of the problem here more than regulations. For instance, many financial institutions refuse any of the CBD products to be sold through their payment gateways, only because they are against everything hemp (I will be talking in depth about it in a later piece).
Check our blog post about the reason marijuana gives you the munchies here.
Think of CBD and THC as salt and sugar. Each one of them has completely different characteristics, however, when you combine them together, you can come up with amazing recipes.
Find the right THC/CBD ratio for you. Next time you're in a dispensary trying to find the right cannabis strain for you, take into consideration the level of THC AND CBD combined, apart from the type of "high" each one of them will give you. Also, think about any symptoms of pain or anxiety that you would like help dealing with those factors can also help determine which ratio and strain are most ideal.
High THC and low CBD can work the best for you, but try to be adventurous and experience different marijuana strains with different level of THC and CBD. It's fun and may provide you a better experience than previously believed. Marijuana can be used to treat numerous physical and mental ailments from fibromyalgia to PTSD.
Moreover, it can be used recreationally to increase your artistic ability, creativity or just to remove writer’s block!
Editor's Note:This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.