THC vs. CBD: The Basics

If you are at all familiar with the cannabis plant, you probably know that THC is the stuff that gets you high. But what about CBD? This non-intoxicating chemical is turning up everywhere, from gummy bears to cosmetics to pet medicines. And happy days: some of the claims for CBD are borne out by science.

The Buzz on THC vs CBD

Cannabis plants make a thick substance full of compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of these natural compounds.

To be perfectly clear, hemp plants also also contain CBD. However, hemp is a less efficient source and lacks the beneficial chemical diversity of cannabis-derived CBD.

Both THC and CBD have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. A small difference in the arrangements of the atoms accounts for the differing effects of THC and CBD on your body.

Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure

THC and CBD are also chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. These are neurotransmitters that bind to receptors in the brain, and affect pain, mood, appetite, sleep, and lots of other functions. In other words, your body’s endocannabinoid system is made to derive benefits from weed!

THC binds with the party hard cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain, resulting in a high or sense of euphoria. CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors. Unlike THC, CBD will not intoxicate you.

THC and CBD: The Best of Both Highs

When you purchase cannabis in Canada, the percentage of THC and CBD will be noted somewhere in the online product description and physical packaging. Retail budtenders can also help you choose the right balance between the two compounds.

CBD can block some of the intoxicating effects of THC. By binding to cannabinoid receptors, it will keep THC from activating those receptors. This translates into a less intense high, which is why products with a mix of THC and CBD are great for novice consumers.

A high CBD to THC ratio may also suit someone who needs to medicate throughout the day to control pain, inflammation, anxiety, or other chronic conditions.

CBD Alone Can Fix It

As noted, CBD sans THC is not intoxicating, but it does bind to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. That made pain management one of the first reasons people choose to use CBD.  And science is starting to show that CBD is especially effective in reducing pain due to inflammation. CBD alone is often cited as helpful in treating anxiety and depression. 

A well-documented success story for CBD is in fighting Dravet’s Syndrome, a condition that causes hundreds of seizures a day, and can be life-threatening. Charlotte, a young girl with the syndrome, began taking digestible CBD oil after doctors had exhausted all other options In less than two years, Charlotte went from a monthly seizure count of 1,200 to about three. Other success stories followed and more parents are speaking out about this treatment.

If you have specific health concerns, it is best to talk to a doctor before taking CBD. But for most of us, there is little risk to trying CBD in its many forms: digestible oils and tinctures, gummies and other edibles, body creams and beauty serums. A World Health Organization (WHO) study concludes: “To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” 

As with all cannabis products, you need to keep your CBD away from young ones - especially gummies and other edible treats. The Flower Stampede Locking, Smell Proof Stash Bag features an easy to set, TSA-style lock. It’s the perfect way to secure your cannabis products.

The infographic below provides a quick look at the similarities and differences between THC and CBD.

THC vs. CBD infographic


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.