CBD and THC are cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. However, they differ in their chemical structure and thus in their effects. Here’s everything you need to know about the two substances.
CBD is on everyone’s lips these days. The herbal active ingredient is considered a true miracle cure: It is said to help against stress, tension, anxiety and even cancer. The active ingredient can now be found in a wide variety of products – CBD tea, flowers, ointments, oils and even foods enriched with CBD promise positive effects on various processes in our body.
Because CBD is derived from the hemp plant, cannabidiol is often associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also known as cannabis. However, what differentiates CBD from the intoxicant THC and what you need to know about both substances can be found here.
Like THC, CBD is one of hundreds of phytocannabinoids found in the hemp plant. The two active ingredients are considered to be the best known to be extracted from the plant. But even if they are chemically very similar, they have very different modes of action. While THC is best known for its intoxicating effect, CBD is an active ingredient approved in Germany that is increasingly finding its way into medicine.
The hemp plant is one of the oldest and most valuable cultivated plants of mankind and has been valued for its health-promoting properties for thousands of years. The areas of application are very diverse, the effect of cannabinoids is still being studied by science today.
THC and CBD are the most well-known active ingredients extracted from the hemp plant. Even if they are chemically similar, they are very different in their mode of action. This is because CBD binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Some studies even assume that CBD inhibits the receptors so that THC can no longer dock to them as effectively. The cannabinoid receptors in the brain have special tasks in our pain and inflammation processes.
In addition to the effect of CBD on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, it is also said to activate many other proteins in our organism – including the serotonin receptor and ion channels, which control the signal transmission to our nerve cells via calcium regulation. As a result, CBD can have an antispasmodic effect, which is why it can now also be used as an antispasmodic drug, for example in multiple sclerosis (Nabiximol) and in rare forms of epilepsy (Epidyolex). CBD should have the following properties, as reported by the health insurance company:
Areas of application: In everyday life, CBD is used primarily for relaxation and to increase well-being. Its effect is still being studied, but has already been proven in some scientific studies. Today’s CBD research is mainly concerned with the effect of the extract on the following complaints:
Some studies even prove the anti-cancer effect of CBD. For example, results from a 2018 study by the International Institute of Anticancer Research show that taking CBD regularly as a supplement to cancer therapy can help tumors shrink. The CBD effect is continuously researched and has not yet been finally clarified.
Ingestion: CBD comes in a variety of forms. The crystalline pure substance can be purchased alongside CBD flowers, for example, which are crushed and smoked. However, it is particularly recommended to take it with oils or ointments. Oils have the advantage that they dissolve the CBD well and thus enable better absorption, since all cannabinoids are fat-soluble and not water-soluble.
In general, it can be assumed that CBD in the form of oils has a half-life of around 60 hours and takes effect after around one to two hours. External factors such as weight, height or activities such as sport can influence the effect. The dose differs depending on the product and is usually increased slowly.
THC also works through the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. They exist twice under the names “CB1” and “CB2 receptors”. They serve as a “docking point” for the cannabinoids. The body normally produces these itself and actually only releases them when the neurochemistry affects the brain and the body When THC docks onto the receptors, it affects important functions of the nervous system – it takes over “control” of the body, is psychoactive and induces a state of intoxication.
Areas of application: THC causes the body to release dopamine, among other things. This in turn leads to a feeling of euphoria and a general sense of well-being. In severe illnesses, it can have a relaxing and pain-relieving effect. Without medical supervision, the effects of cannabis can hardly be estimated in advance. While it can produce a “high of positive feelings,” it can also produce numerous negative effects. According to the Federal Center for Health Education, these include:
In the case of synthetic cannabinoids, the negative effect is reinforced again. In the worst case, the consumption of synthetic cannabinoids can also lead to death.
Ingestion: Cannabis is illegal. Since 2017, marijuana may be used for the purely medical-therapeutic treatment of strictly declared diseases. THC is therefore strictly prescription and is only prescribed after serious consideration and investigation by trained doctors.