A substantial amount of studies and articles about cannabis compounds have been flowing out of the floodgates lately. This exuberance of information can make you have a lot of head-scratching moments. If you’ve dipped your toes in cannabis studies, you understand that THC and CBD is only the entrance of cannabis science. It’s clear that there’s more in depth as cannabis has a complex cannabinoid profile.
Here’s The Rundown
- What are “Cannabinoids”
- Benefits in general
- How THC works
- Ways to consume THC
- How CBD works
- Ways to consumer CBD
- Myth & Fact
What Are Cannabinoids
483 compounds include cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, essential fatty acids are found in cannabis plants. So far, 113 cannabinoids have been identified and they are divided into 10 subclasses, THC and CBD as the most common and widely used cannabinoids on the market.
When looking at full cannabinoid profile, it goes from THC, CBD, to CBDa, CBN, THCa, CBG; which also include their interactions with receptors like TRPV1, 5-HT1A, PPARS, and GPR55 instead of merely CB1 and CB2.
Benefits In General
Cannabinoids function as part of the body’s complex network - Endocannabinoid System (ECS); This system helps the body maintain healthy biological balance, which can include regulating everything from your mood, memory, the immune system, pain signalling, and inflammatory response (from our previous article).
According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer treatment. One of the known synthetic THC medicines made by a pharmaceutical company is called Marinol. It’s an FDA-approved medication with the active ingredient, dronabinol, aimed to treat side effects specific to chemotherapy. And another FDA-approved CBD drug made by a pharmaceutical company, used to treat Epilepsy, is called Epidiolex.
Other possible benefits of natural cannabinoids from cannabis plants include: anti-inflammatory activity, blocking cell growth, preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors, antiviral activity, pain relief, and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS). They’ve also been used to reduce opioid and heroin addictions.
THC (or Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, a super mouthful) is the cannabinoid that gives you euphoric “high” effects. However, did you know THC has been used alongside chemotherapy as well as HIV treatments? That means THC isn’t as rebellious as its infamous reputation.
THC also has strong anti-depressant effects to help relaxation. It stimulates the brain cells and helps grow new ones just like CBD. Its’ therapeutic benefits are known for pain relief, appetite stimulation with HIV treatments, as well as anti-nausea properties for chemotherapy patients.
That explains why cannabis isn’t only for recreational use and a good pairing with Family Guy or Yo Gaba Gaba, and why the medical industry sees the values of THC for medicinal purposes. Both cannabis activists and the medical doctors who have worked with cannabis are side by side for legalizing this medicinal plant.
How THC Works
THC binds to the CB1 receptors. This is how THC produces its therapeutic effects as well as its euphoric, psychotropic effects.
Ways To Consume THC
There are more than 24 ways to consume THC, such as topical, ingestibles, edibles, Transdermal patches, vaping, dabbing, smoking, bath soaks, etc.
However, THC ingestibles have a higher chance to deliver the “effect” to the user for as long as 2 weeks. It’s due to conversion of THC to 11-hydroxy-THC after it’s been metabolized by the body.
After THC, here comes CBD.
It is the second most abundant cannabinoid and is generally considered to be non-psychotropic. CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring chemical compound, or ‘cannabinoid’, found in Cannabis Sativa (Hemp plants) and Cannabis Indica (Marijuana plants).
CBD in particular, benefit people with ASD, neuropathic pain, mood or anxiety, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's Disease (IBD), MS, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s.
CBD also acts as an antagonist (meaning a chemical that binds to a receptor and deactivates or blocks its activity), to reduce the intoxicating and psychotropic effect that THC brings.
How CBD Works
Most folks believe if THC binds to CB1 receptors. Aha! Then CBD binds to CB2 receptors. Unfortunately, it’s not the case althought CBD does make minor effects on CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CBD indirectly stimulates ECS by slowing the elimination of natural cannabinoids produced by the body, and binds to certain non-cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. Pretty much like you do not try to ease the pain by interacting with your in-laws directly. You tend to bind to your spouse, kids, helper, or assistant and have them to ease the pain for you through different channels.
CBD works in a similar fashion. It does so by
- Reducing anxiety by boosting the brain’s serotonin system, receptors like 5-HT1A, and nuclear receptors like PPAR-Gamma which reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease
- Activates TRPV1 channels to help reduce pain
- Binds with the latest discovered GPR55 Receptor (G-protein Coupled Receptor 55) in preventing seizures and combating cancerous tumors.
Ways To Consume CBD
There are a variety of consumption methods. These include topical, ingestibles, edibles, vaping, dabbing. All just like THC. The most absorbent way in for CBD would be liquid form edibles and suppositories.
- Myth : CBD is child safe
Fact : Yes it is. CBD is safe for most ages. It is also safe for people operating machinery or vehicles, recovering addicts, and it’s even safe for pets.
- Myth : CBD is better than THC
Fact : Depends on the situation. Although using THC may give you a psychotropic “high” journey, THC has been used for medical treatments to ease the discomfort from chemotherapy as mentioned above. The latest studies have found that THC has the potential to shrink or kill cancer cells if it done right. It also works best when combined with CBD as they help patients with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, High Levels of Stress, PTSD, Anxiety, or ADHD to sleep in comfort.
THC is effective as pain killer without psychotropic effects when used as topical. However a precise formulation is required such as combined with a carrier that doesn’t deliver THC to blood stream.
CBD combined with super low THC (below 0.3%) has also been shown to help both adults and children with epilepsy.
- Myth : CBD is addictive and dependent.
Fact : No. CBD doesn’t work like THC does. In most cases, once CBD users find the right dose for their needs, no additional increases are required nor do there tend to be any withdrawal effects when missing a dose. This is unlike THC where your body will eventually get used to the effects and you may need to increase dosage overtime.
- Myth : I can’t take cannabis because I have MTHFR mutation
Fact : Yes. People with MTHFR deficiency / mutation tend to be unable to convert methylfolate, and trigger the elevation of homocysteine levels when consuming THC. That explains why most of the MTHFR’s (I know, what a motherf**r) don’t tolerate THC well. Hemp-derived CBD or other alternatives might provide relief for their needs.
- Myth : All CBDs are the same. The cheaper the better. I can grow my own plant and make CBD.
Fact : Yes and no. First, not all countries allow for or have active laws banning the growth of your own cannabis plant. Second, the process of producing CBD is key. Different processes produce different qualities of CBD. There are a variety of methods to make CBD, from heating to the most expensive method - Co2. That’s not to say the higher priced tags mean better products. There is a need to look into what’s behind the closed door, such as farming or if the process destroys any other beneficial molecules, has any residue, consistency, etc., All this work, time, effort, and third party lab testing definitely come with a price.
- Myth : Medical Cannabis is a miracle cure, especially for those who have neurological issues.
Fact : No. Even though we believe in this medicinal plant plays a huge role in the body and makes certain impacts to the brain function which have been proven by research and real cases, we still need to accept the fact that there’s no one magic pill. Your body is like mechanical engineering, different aspects like lifestyle change, attitude towards living, skincare, food choices, and environmental stressor all play a part
- Myth : CBD is legal worldwide
Fact : As far as we know, in the following countries, CBD is considered legal and you should have no problems importing CBD oil or other CBD products, as long as they have negligible THC content.
Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Netherlands, Antilles, Northern, Ireland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovak, Republic Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, U.S., Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Wales. PS: Since the laws are changing rapidly, any information in this article should not be considered legal advice. You should always check with your local government officer, police department or customs office for the most up-to-date information.
Resource & research
- World Health Organization - Neuroscience Clinical trials.gov