THC versus CBD: Risks, Benefits, and Side Effects (You Should Read This)
Are you interested in consuming cannabis for its recreational or health benefits? Are you also considering growing and harvesting your own bud? If so, here’s what you need to know about THC and CBD, the two cannabinoids present in marijuana. Without this knowledge, it is virtually impossible to decide which seed cultivar or strain to plant.
Cannabinoids, THC and CBD: A succinct definition
As described above, it is essential to gain an understanding of the following cannabis-specific terms:
Succinctly stated, cannabinoids are chemicals that are specifically found in cannabis. There are at least 144 different cannabinoids found in marijuana plants, providing different effects when consumed. The most prominent of these chemicals are THC and CBD.
Note: There is a difference between naturally occurring cannabinoids and synthetically produced chemicals.
In summary, not much is known about the chemical and pharmacological properties of synthetic cannabinoids. They are similar and are chemical relatives to the naturally occurring cannabinoids. They were developed in the early twenty-first century because the naturally occurring cannabinoids were prohibited across the globe.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. Its function is similar to the human body’s naturally occurring cannabinoid chemicals.
Did you know the human body manufactures cannabinoids?
The livescience.com website notes that cannabinoid receptors are found in clusters in the areas of the brain associated with time perception, thinking, pleasure, memory, and coordination. The THC found in weed attaches itself to these receptors, activates them, and affects them. It stimulates the brain cells to release dopamine and create feelings of euphoria and provide pain relief for chronic pain. Juxtapositionally, THC is also responsible for side effects like anxiety, tachycardia, and delusions.
In summary, this is why consuming weed with a high THC content is not necessarily a good idea for new weed smokers.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the chemical manufactured by the marijuana plant that imparts a feeling of relaxation and calm. It act as the counterbalance to the THC. And, while THC is a psychoactive component, CBD is not. In other words consuming THC produces a high but imbibing CBD calms and relaxes you.
Junella Chin, DO, an osteopathic physician and a medical cannabis expert notes that “CBD is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant, so what that means is you won’t have any effects like euphoria… You won’t feel sedated or altered in any way.”
Risks, Benefits and side effects
From the description above, it is reasonable to assume that because products like CBD oils manufactured from cannabis extracts do not have THC in the tincture, they are safe for medicinal or health products. In other words, the THC is extracted before the marijuana extract is added to the cannabis products.
Therefore, the benefits of using cannabis-based products as a pain-relief and relaxing, calming preparation are justified. If the THC is correctly removed, it is a useful natural preparation without the side effects and dangers of using potentially addictive prescription drugs.
However, because the modern global medical marijuana industry is relatively new, there is a risk that some of the psychoactive THC is left behind. Consequently, the question that begs is, how successful is the process that removes the THC from the cannabis extract before it is added to products like CBD oils?
The answer to this question is multi-faceted. Let’s start with a description of the chemical process that removes the THC from the cannabis extract.
The website, analyticalcannabis.com, notes that different extraction techniques separate the individual cannabis components and remove them from the plant matrix. There are essentially two types of extractions:
- Each of the 113 different cannabinoids is individually distilled.
- Whole-plant extracts are created where a single extract is made from many of the individual cannabinoids are combined into one distillation.
Therefore, when the different compounds are extracted in a scientific laboratory with the correct equipment, cleanliness standards, and proper chemicals, there is no doubt that the THC will be adequately removed from the CBD with no traces left behind.
However, if the THC is extracted at home or in a makeshift lab, there is a good chance that the THC and other psychoactive cannabinoids will be left behind when attempting to distil the CBD from the plant matrix.
As described at the outset of this article, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the risks, benefits, and side effects of the different active ingredients or cannabinoids found in the
cannabis plant. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to decide which cultivar is suitable for your consumption.