What Are The Differences Between CBD And THC?

If you’re not sure about the differences between CBD and THC, chances are you’ll hesitate to use either of them. Sometimes these compounds get confused with each other, because they both are derived from the cannabis plant and both are cannabinoids. However, it’s a good thing if you can tell them apart, because they affect us in very different ways.

Similarities And Differences Between THC And CBD

Most people know that when you use marijuana, you get high. However, most people don’t know that the ‘high’ effect is caused by a compound called THC (tetrahidrocannabinol). CBD (cannabidiol) on the other hand, doesn’t get you high, even though both compounds can be found in the hemp plant.

Despite the big differences in effects, the chemical makeup of both CBD and THC is almost exactly the same: they consist of 21 carbon atoms, 2 oxygen atoms and 30 hydrogen atoms. It’s precisely the location of one single atom, that causes the two cannabinoids to have such different effects.

Cannabinoids And The Body

The fact that CBD and THC influence your body, is made possible by the body’s endocannabinoid systeem (ECS). This system consists of a network of receptors that spreads out over your entire body. These receptors respond to cannabinoids. This can be endocannabinoids, which are produced by the body itself. But they can also be cannabinoids from the hemp plant (these are called phytocannabinoids).

The ECS and receptors are responsible for controlling certain processes in the body. This way it regulates the sleep-wake cycle, your emotional responses and your memory. The ECS makes sure there is homeostasis, or simply put: that your body remains in balance.

For years, scientists researched the ECS and its workings. At the end of the 80’s two receptors were discovered, the CB1 and CB2 receptors, that are part of the ECS. The CB1 receptors are located mainly in the brain and are responsible for mental processes, like emotions, learning and memory. The CB2 receptors are mainly present in the nervous system and the immune system.

Because cannabinoids can influence the receptors, they can help adjust processes in the body. This is why their effect can be calming, analgesic, exciting, stimulating or inhibiting the appetite.

The Difference Is In A Single Atom

That one single atom makes a huge difference in the makeup of THC and CBD. It determines the difference in their effects. Because of the difference in molecular structure, they won’t influence the receptors in the same way. These receptors are like locks, into which only a single key fits.

CBD and THC differences
THC Molecular Structure [Photo: Hypescience]

The Effects Of THC

THC binds to CB1 receptors, which are mainly located in the brain. This binding changes the way the brain works, what itperceives and how you feel. This means you get high and that it alters your world view.

The effects THC can cause are, among others:

  • Mind altering effects
  • Physical “buzz”
  • Happy feeling
  • More creativity
  • Sleepiness
  • Euphoria
  • Relaxed feeling
  • Increased appetite


The Effects Of CBD

In contrast to THC, CBD doesn’t directly bind to the CB1 receptor. It can even disrupt the connection THC made. CBD influences the CB2 receptors and can have an effect on your emotions, your hormonal balance, and your digestive system. But just to be clear: CBD oil won’t get you high. It has no mind altering effects. However, you can use it to treat a wide array of health symptoms.

The effects of CBD:

  • Calming
  • Analgesic effects
  • Can help restore a healthy sleeping pattern
  • Improves PMS and menopausal symptoms
  • More energy
  • Can help break addiction patterns
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

Using CBD

One of the big differences between CBD and THC is that CBD oil is completely legal to use. Most countries ban the use of THC, because of it’s mind altering effects. In the Netherlands however, officially it’s illegal, but a toleration policy is applied.

If you would like to use CBD oil, different laws apply. CBD is legal in more countries than THC. If you don’t live in the Netherlands, check whether CBD is legal in your country. At least now you know the difference between CBD and THC: THC gets you high, but CBD can contribute to better health. Although both come from the cannabis plant, quality brand CBD products should not contain THC. That is why SupMedi takes great care and uses lab analysis to ensure purity of all our CBD products. You can choose to use oil, there’s CBD oil 4% and 10%. Or you could decide to go for the easy to use CBD tablets. You put them under the tongue and let them dissolve. They have a pleasant orange flavour and because of the added vitamin C, your body quickly absorbs the CBD.

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