While there are over 100 different cannabinoids that can occur in cannabis, the two most well known and studied compounds in the cannabis plant happen to also be the two that occur in the largest volume: delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, and cannabidiol, known as CBD. Like all other cannabinoids, these two must be heated to convert the cannabinoid acid to the active cannabinoid. THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis which gives the effect of what recreational users call the “high.” CBD is considered to be non-psychoactive and when used in conjunction with THC helps dampen the psychoactivity and other side effects some people consider undesirable. Both cannabinoids have an impressive list of ways they support the human body.
THC is a strong anti-inflammatory and pain killer and has been shown to reduce the amyloid plaques in the brain that cause Alzhiemer’s. In pre-clinical trials THC has been proven to reduce levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in glioma (brain cancer) cells. This is important because a reduction in VEGF means that brain cancer tumors are unable to grow the new blood vessels they need to sustain themselves, grow and spread. This discovery offers great promise for the treatment of brain cancer.
THC is also a bronchodilator, anti-spasmodic, muscle relaxant, a powerful neuroprotectant and antioxidant. In fact, it has 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.
The effects of THC include:
* Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing
* Reduced aggression
What are the medical applications of THC?
Research studies have indicated that this cannabinoid may be able to help treat:
* Side effects of chemotherapy – Reduce nausea and vomiting while increasing appetite
* Multiple sclerosis – Improve spasticity and bladder function while reducing painful spasms and central pain
* Glaucoma – Reduce pressure inside the eye
* AIDS – Alleviate symptoms by stimulating appetite and eating
* Spinal injury – Lessen tremors
CBD is the second most common cannabinoid in cannabis and the most common in hemp plants. CBD can generally represent 0.1-12 percent of the cannabinoid content of the the plant. CBD rich cannabis (4% or more) provides potent therapeutic benefits without the euphoria or lethargy of many high THC varieties. CBD and THC are believed to have a synergistic effect meaning that when they are both present at therapeutic levels, they are more effective together than they are alone. While THC is widely known for its psychoactive properties, CBD may be best known for its ability to counterbalance anxiety, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hunger and sedation caused by THC and its ability to control sever forms of epilepsy.
CBD was once considered a minor cannabinoid under the shadow of THC. What we know now is that CBD is as beneficial and versatile a cannabinoid as THC in addressing many hard to manage conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, antibiotic-resistant infections, alcoholism, PSTD and neurological disorders. CBD has very strong anxiolytic (reduces anxiousness), anti-convulsant, anti-emetic (reduces nausea), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (stronger than vitamins C & E), anti-depressant and anti-psychotic properties. One of the most exciting aspects of CBD is its combined strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and neuro-protective properties which yields great promise for the treatment of Alzhiemer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and all neurodegenerative-related diseases. CBD also helps regulate blood pressure and is cytotoxic to breast cancer and certain other types of cancer cells while protecting healthy cells.
The effects of CBD include:
* Reduction of psychotic symptoms
* Relief from convulsions and nausea
* Decreased anxiety
* Decreased inflammation
What are the medical applications of CBD?
Research indicates that CBD may be useful in treating:
* Schizophrenia – Reduce psychotic symptoms
* Social anxiety disorder – Lower anxiety
* Depression – Reduce depressive symptoms
* Side effects of cancer treatment – Decrease pain and nausea while stimulating appetite
Chief difference between THC vs CBD, simply put, is THC gets you stoned and CBD does not. The fact that patients can be treated with CBD without the troublesome side effect of getting stoned has lead to an intense look at CBD’s potential and future uses in both the recreational and medical cannabis industry. Both can provoke significantly different reactions in people, and this difference has become the central argument in the future of medical marijuana. It truly is: THC or CBD.
When searching for the best strain for pain, there are a few things to keep in mind. Many people lack access to quality selections of cannabis, and it can be difficult for folks to find exactly what they need. Further, every person responds differently to cannabis.
- Sedative, indica strains are some of the most popular picks for chronic pain management.
- A strain that contains a little of both CBD and THC may be more effective than one with THC alone.
- High THC levels mean that you may more easily forget about your pain.
- CBD strains are generally considered better for daytime consumption.
- Sativa strains are often consumed for neuropathic pain and chronic headaches, though this is highly subjective.
- Pick strains or products that are very fragrant or have high terpene tests.
[Updated, originally published 28.8. 2017]