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What’s The Diff, Spliff? A Head-Talk About Cannabinoids.

So, what's the difference between THC and CBD anyways? Why do THC and CBD make you feel different? How do they make you feel different? 

Cannabinoids are the defining compounds in the experience of your cannabis consumption. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are the cannabinoid heavy hitters–so to speak–when it comes to effect and studies regarding cannabis. Both are naturally occurring in the cannabis sativa plant and both interact with cannabinoids receptors in the human body and brain. Both molecules are practically identical but react drastically different with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

A Brief Look Into The Endocannabinoid System!

Brain neurons

The (ECS) is a network of receptors throughout the body that interacts and works with cannabinoids to maintain vital bodily functions. In 1995, well after the discovery of the first receptor in 1988 and 2 years after the discovery of the second, the two were classified as the CB1 and CB2 Receptors.

While the CB1 receptors are amply located in the parts of the brain that are synonymous with processes such as memory, emotion, high cognition and motor skills, the CB2 receptors are throughout the body’s central nervous and immune systems. The two are distributed in different tissues and also greatly differ in signalling mechanisms and sensitivities to agonists and antagonists. The stimulation of the CB1 creates the cannabis-like “high” effects on the psyche and circulation, meanwhile, no symptoms are recorded when the CB2 is prompted. This has lead to increased studies of CB2 receptor agonists for any possible medical attributes they may surrender.

The CB1 receptors bind to a naturally occurring substance in the brain called anandamide– a neurotransmitter which is strongly linked to happiness.

So, What is THC?

Smoke into fan

THC is the primary psychoactive component to the cannabis plant. That’s to say that THC is where recreational and medical consumers receive their “high” symptoms. In essence, THC mimics the effects of anandamide–the neurotransmitter we just mentioned–and can affect other bodily functions like sleep and eating habits.


Now a Look at CBD…

Green eye

Cannabidiol is the most researched cannabinoid out there. It is present in recreational/medical cannabis and also in agricultural hemp–though in lower quantities. Containing all the same atoms as THC, it’s got a slightly different arrangement which doesn’t cause a psychoactive or “high” effect like THC does– in fact CBD helps counteract some of THC’s psychoactive properties. This makes the suspected health benefits more appealing because it comes without the inebriation and why you find it more prominently in supplements and “health foods”.

Cannabinoids Meet the Endocannabinoid System

Colourful nervous system

Here’s the part where the slight difference in molecular structure is loosely explained. Because THC and CBD are actually different they don’t interact with the ECS in the same fashion. Both THC and CBD do bind with the CB2 receptors, but they react dissimilarly with the CB1 receptor. When the CB1/THC bond is formed, signals sent to the brain cause the psychoactive effects associated with being “high”. On the other hand, CBD doesn’t bond directly to the CB1, and even blocks or negates the THC/CB1 bond. Which in turn can succinctly neutralize the psychoactive symptoms brought about by THC.

Cannabis with a low CBD and high THC content result in a stronger high, while in contrast, high CBD and low THC plants provide a weaker or more relaxed sensation. Everyone has a preference. Make sure you are talking to your retail consultant about what kind of strain will provide the experience you are looking for, or what to expect if you aren’t sure of a strain.