Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most prevalent compounds in marijuana, also known as cannabinoids. Though they’re just two out of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, they’re present in the largest quantities across the different varieties of the cannabis plant. Here’s what you need to know about each compound, so you can choose the marijuana strains and products that will give you the effects you need.
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD can be derived from hemp or cannabis, though it’s often much more potent when it’s derived from cannabis. We now know that CBD lacks the psychoactive effects of THC because it doesn’t bind with the same receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD also has the ability to reduce the high caused by THC. For this reason many people, even those who prefer cannabis with a high THC percentage, keep a CBD product like a tincture close by, in case they consume too much THC and want the intense high to go away quickly.
THC is the most common and well-known cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. Often associated with its psychoactive properties, THC can be very helpful in different medical applications. THC’s pain-relieving properties make it effective for patients managing their chronic pain.
Besides chronic pain, THC can also help:
Cannabis is much more effective in the whole plant as opposed to when one cannabinoid is used in isolation. It’s the interactions taking place among the various cannabinoids—called the entourage effect—that helps drive positive effects in the human body.
THC and CBD work in harmony on the endocannabinoid system in the body. For example, having a balance of THC and CBD in a strain of cannabis can allow for the highly successful pain-relieving aspects of THC with less of the psychoactive effect—because non-psychoactive CBD counteracts THC.
Though THC and CBD are the most prominent compounds, many other cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabichromene (CBC) can provide a range of benefits. Studies have found THCA to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-emetic and antiproliferative properties, while CBC appears to be an effective antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-depressant and analgesic compound.
Terpenes—compounds that lend the cannabis plant strains their fragrance and flavor—number well over 100, and interact with the ECS as well. They work in concert with cannabinoids in a wide range of activities—from promoting sleep to elevating mood and providing stress relief.
Since THC and CBD have different effects on the body, it’s important that you have a clear idea of what you want out of consuming marijuana. Then, you can choose the cannabis strain or product that’s right for you, based on the major cannabinoids that it contains.