Do you know what 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms form when combined? This is the molecular structure of both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Yes, from a molecular standpoint they are the same. However, if you’re familiar with the basic concepts of chemistry, you know that the arrangement of the atoms plays a key role in the final substance.
The atom sequence in CBD is different from the arrangement of atoms in THC. This is why the two substances have significantly different effects on your body. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this topic nowadays, especially with more and more people using CBD oils to relieve chronic pain. By the end of this post, you will have hopefully gained a better understanding as to how CBD differs from THC and what the potential benefits of using it might be.
CBD doesn’t make you high
I’ve noticed that many people, especially older folks, get nervous as soon as someone mentions using CBD to relieve chronic pain. It’s as though the mere act of talking about it might land them in jail. Perhaps, the biggest difference between CBD and THC is that the latter produces a high, otherwise known as a psychoactive effect. CBD, on the other hand, is NOT a psychoative compound.
Why does THC make you high but CBD doesn’t? It’s all about how those atoms are arranged. The molecular structure of the two compounds are identical, but the arrangement of the atoms is not, which is why each compound will have a different effect on your body.
You have an endocannabinoid system in your body
The human body is amazing. There is still so much scientists don’t know about it. One thing they have recently been learning more about is the endocannabinoid system (ECS) each of us has in our bodies. The ECS in your body is a highly complex cell-signaling system.
What scientists have learned so far is that the ECS system regulates functions such as sleep, mood and memory. It also plays a key role in fertility and reproduction, as well as appetite.
How CBD and THC interact with the ECS
Because CBD and THC are similar the endocannabinoids in our bodies, they can interact with the cannabinoid receptors in our brains. BUT, and this a BIG BUT — because of the difference in the arrangement of atoms, the effects of the interaction will not be the same.
The sense of euphoria or high people get when they smoke marijuana or otherwise use a THC product is created by the THC binding to a certain cannabinoid receptor in the brain. CBD typically does not bind with this receptor or does so very weakly. This is why there are no psychoactive effects when using CBD but there are when using THC. Interestingly, CBD can actually impede the psychoactive effects of THC by interfering with its ability to bind to the cannabinoid 1 receptor.
CBD is not a drug
Because CBD is does not produce psychoactive effects, it is not a drug. It is a natural product derived from cannabis plants such as marijuana or hemp. Many people say they have found great relief for chronic pain from using CBD oil. There have also been reports that it helps with migraines, depression, inflammation, psychosis and anxiety.
THC IS a drug
Using THC medicinally is legal in several states. The potential benefits include reducing anxiety, relieving muscle spasms and helping to increase appetite. Many people claim it has helped them relieve pain as well. It is significantly different from CBD, however, because it is a mind-altering drug, and CBD is not.
State laws vary regarding CBD versus THC
It’s important to remember that under federal law any and all use, manufacturing, sale or purchase of marijuana is illegal. In recent years, however, numerous states have adapted laws to allow medicinal or recreational use of the drug. If an incident ever occurs where federal issues and state issues intersect, federal law always takes precedence.
If you’re considering trying to obtain products containing either of these compounds, it’s wise to first seek clarification of the laws in your state.