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An Introduction to THC and CBD

July 19, 2018

5 min read

Cannabis is by far one of the most fascinating plants. Its diverse system contains over one hundred distinct cannabinoids, which provide consumers with a myriad of medicinal and therapeutic effects. The two most common are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). A cannabis strain higher in THC will have more psychoactive effects, while a strain higher in CBD is associated with what many call a “body high”. While THC has been the long sought-after cannabis compound, CBD is certainly having its own moment – some may say it’s surpassing THC in popularity. It’s worthwhile comparing the effects of each so we can better understand how they can both benefit us.


The psychoactive effects of THC have appealed to cannabis enthusiasts for centuries. It can put consumers in an uplifted, creative state of mind, and it can also alleviate stress and anxiety. In some cases, it can help minimize depression. However, THC will work best as a stress reliever and anti-depressant when it is consumed in low doses. Too much THC has the opposite effect, and actually increases anxiety. Whether you’re consuming cannabis for the first time or have been enjoying it for years, it is recommended that you start with a micro-dose of THC, between 2 and 5 mgs and work your way up to a larger dose; and, before consuming more make sure to wait a while. It’s also a good idea to stick to the same micro-dose for a few days to see how you react before you decide to incorporate more into your daily routine. A half portion of a 3Leaf edible equates to 5 mgs of THC, which is considered a micro-dose. One full Quinoa Granola Bite or Coconut Oatmeal Cookie is considered a low-dose.


Our brain naturally produces cannabinoids through the endo-cannabinoid system, which plays a key role in regulating brain function. An article from VICE illustrates how THC and CBD work in harmony with our own endo-cannabinoid system. Both THC and CBD bind with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, or CB1 and CB2 receptors to provide us with a range of benefits. The greatest concentrations of cannabinoid receptors are in the hippocampus (which regulates memory), the cerebral cortex (cognition), the cerebellum (motor coordination), the basal ganglia (movement), the hypothalamus (appetite), and the amygdala (emotions). Our endo-cannabinoid system naturally produces our own cannabinoids, however humans typically do not produce enough for our system to operate at full capacity. THC and CBD  compensate for our system’s deficiency by binding with our cannabinoid receptors to produce a variety of effects, such as increased appetite, reduced inflammation, regulated blood pressure, and decreased sensations of pain. 


Where THC is touted for providing consumers with a “high” from cannabis, CBD does not induce a psychoactive effect. Moreover, it can actually counteract that feeling of being “too high” if you’ve consumed too much THC. CBD provides a variety of benefits that impact consumers both physically and mentally. It has been credited with helping those who suffer from epilepsy and seizure disorders, pain and inflammation, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and opioid withdrawal.


The benefits of CBD are apparent in the story of Charlotte, a young girl from Colorado whose epileptic seizures are treated with CBD oil. At two-and-a-half-years-old, Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, which is a severe form of epilepsy. At one point, she was taking seven prescription medications at a time; and at its worst, Charlotte was experiencing 500 grand mal seizures a week. By age five, her parents had exhausted nearly all options for treatment. But, Charlotte’s father, Matt, found a video online of a young boy in California whose Dravet syndrome was being successfully treated with CBD. Matt and his wife, Paige, decided to try treating Charlotte with CBD oil. And it worked! A few drops of CBD oil reduced the frequency of Charlotte’s seizures from 500 per week to only one. A strain of cannabis developed by the Stanley Brothers to help manage seizures has helped save Charlotte’s life, and primarily consists of CBD. It’s been named  Charlotte’s Web, after it’s inspiration. Charlotte’s experience is proof that cannabis can have many therapeutic benefits that go beyond achieving a psychoactive experience.


The medicinal properties of the cannabis plant were federally recognized last month when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex. This is the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified substance derived from cannabis. Epidiolex is a CBD oral solution that treats the seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and another rare form of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This is a significant milestone for the cannabis community, as advocates have worked for years to provide consumers with access to safe, effective medicine as an alternative to prescription pills. This is another step forward in destigmatizing cannabis.


The fact that cannabis has such a wide variety of natural benefits never ceases to amaze us. While THC and CBD can provide consumers with a variety of effects when consumed separately, the two are also highly effective and provide a completely different experience when consumed together. A cannabis product – typically edibles, oils, and tinctures –  with a combination of THC and CBD is known as a ratio product. For example, a 1:1 ratio means there is 50% THC and 50% CBD in that particular product. A good mixture to start would be an edible with 5mgs of THC and 5 mgs of CBD. Ratio products are increasing in popularity as they provide a balanced cannabis experience.


People who are looking for the benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects should consider introducing CBD in to their lifestyle. While THC undoubtedly provides many medicinal and therapeutic benefits, it is commonly enjoyed recreationally. CBD allows consumers to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without feeling “high.” Try products with one or the other, or a ratio of both, starting with a micro-dose and working your way up slowly. Mainstream society is beginning to recognize cannabis for its medicinal and therapeutic benefits, and we hope that this means cannabis will continue to become more accessible.


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