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CBD+THC: What is the difference

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most abundant compounds found in the cannabis plant, which has been cultivated for its healing properties for at least 6000 years. (1)

Both of these compounds are known as cannabinoids or signaling agents, and they are two of the most widely studied cannabis compounds because of their powerful health-balancing properties.

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Key Differences to Know About CBD vs. THC

CBD and THC actually have the same chemical formula but different molecular structures (2). Likewise, they have certain effects in common, and some that are different. The most prominent of these differences is that THC is psychoactive, meaning it is intoxicating, while CBD is non-intoxicating and won't get you high.

In addition, because of the way the two compounds differ in structure, they perform similar but distinct actions in your body that can lead to somewhat different health effects. For instance, THC has been shown to help improve short-term deep sleep patterns (3), while research indicates CBD may be better at improving certain chronic (long-term) sleep issues (4).

Let's take a closer look at how each of these compounds works in your body to help replenish and balance your health.

What are the Effects of CBD vs. THC and How do They Work?

Great question. CBD and THC work in a similar fashion to your body's own naturally occurring compounds called 'endocannabinoids'. These endocannabinoids are part of your Endocannabinoid System (5) or ECS for short. They work by binding to and altering the responses of at least two key ECS receptors called 'CB1' and 'CB2'. The two main endocannabinoids are:

  • 2-AG, short for 2-arachidonoylglycerol, which primarily binds to CB2 receptors found (6) mainly throughout the body in immune cells, and also in the brain stem and hippocampal brain cells.

  • AEA , short for anandamide, which primarily binds to CB1 receptors found (7) mainly in the brain and musculoskeletal spinal tissues.

These receptors and endocannabinoids have been shown to work together to trigger the necessary processes, alterations, and molecular-level responses needed to help keep your mind-body health in an optimal state of balance.

CBD vs. THC

Just like your body's naturally occurring endocannabinoids, THC binds directly to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. The most abundant type of THC is Delta 9 THC, and it's also more potent than the less common Delta 8 THC.

Because of THC's ability to bind directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors, the compound has many positive health-balancing effects, particularly for pain relief, appetite stimulation, and nausea reduction. However, when taken in high doses by itself it may cause paranoia and anxiety.

CBD has been shown (8) to help reduce some of these negative intoxicating effects of THC. CBD does not bind to either CB1 or CB2 receptors but instead helps (9) to positively alter the uptake and breakdown of your naturally-occurring endocannabinoids in order to elevate health responses. For example, it may help raise anandamide levels in your brain to help with anxiety and PTSD (10) symptoms.

Like THC, CBD also works to help relieve pain and nausea symptoms. In fact, research has revealed a wide range of potential health benefits of CBD (11) including improving sleep, fighting infections,(12) balancing mood, protecting nerves, fighting inflammation, managing epilepsy, regulating energy levels, (13) and improving cancer outcomes.(14)

What is Full Spectrum CBD + THC?

Full spectrum CBD + THC contains a rich profile of whole plant cannabis compounds, such as health-boosting terpenes,(15) flavonoids,(16) and less than 0.3% THC. It is the ideal blend for people who want to get the maximum wellness benefits the plant has to offer, without the intoxicating effects of higher levels of THC.

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What are the Benefits of Full Spectrum CBD+THC?

Many dispensaries don't carry full spectrum CBD + THC from hemp (less than 0.3% THC), and instead, they are focused on products with higher levels of THC. 

Products with elevated levels of THC may be beneficial for certain cannabis users (17) who are dealing with strong nausea and vomiting symptoms, especially from chemotherapy treatments, and as appetite stimulates.

However, there are numerous benefits to taking products containing full spectrum CBD with less than 0.3% THC. The most obvious one is that you won't experience the "high" often associated with elevated levels of psychoactive THC, but you still get the compound's benefits. What's more, CBD and THC have been shown to boost each other's health-enhancing properties.

This cooperative relationship between CBD and THC even has its own name: the entourage effect.

When taken together, CBD and THC, full spectrum CBD oil with THC, may help enhance each other's positive effects (18) on:

Is Full Spectrum CBD + THC Legal?

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Hemp-sourced, full spectrum CBD + THC products with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC are legal at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill.(21)

However, state and local laws take precedence over this federal law. Many states have decided to defer to federal law, while others have specific guidelines in place for CBD purchase and use, such as requiring a medical marijuana card.

In most states, you can buy hemp-sourced full spectrum CBD & Delta 9 THC products for sale online, and you can check your state's CBD +THC policies here. (22)

Does Full Spectrum CBD + THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Full spectrum CBD oil with THC, specifically Delta 9 THC, from hemp may and probably will show up on a drug test, depending on the amount the THC cannabinoid exist in the finished product.

One of THC's byproducts is called CBN. While this compound is non-intoxicating, some drug tests have cross-reacted (23) with high levels of CBN, mistaking it for THC.

That being said, unless your product contains high levels of the cannabinoid CBN alongside trace levels of THC, it's unlikely that CBN will show up on a drug test as illegal amounts of THC. It's best to check with your test provider and requester to find out their policies on legal, trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%).  If a drug test is an important factor for you, it is recommended that you do not use a full spectrum CBD + THC product.

Are there any Potential Side Effects of Full Spectrum CBD + THC?

CBD is generally considered safe and effective and is even used as a gentler alternative to some traditional medications. Potential side effects of CBD may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and dehydration. Certain medications (24) do interact with CBD, and it's recommended to check with your medical care provider before beginning CBD dosing.

THC's side effects (25) could include red eyes, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth. With trace amounts of THC, these side effects may not be as apparent. Just as with CBD, there are certain medications (26) that interact with THC, and you should consult with your physician before using the compound.

What is the Difference Between CBD and THC edibles?

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CBD isolate edibles contain no THC, whereas full spectrum CBD oil with THC edibles contain less than 0.3% THC.

This touch of THC may be very beneficial for treating both local and system-wide pain symptoms since the compound has been shown (27) to have powerful analgesic (pain relieving) effects, as has CBD.(28)

Plus, edibles offer a longer digestion period, meaning the effects of Delta 9 THC (and CBD) usually last longer. This may help people who are dealing with pain from a variety of conditions.

Edibles are also a great way to benefit from CBD and THC's positive effects on mood (29) since the effects of digested products can last up to 8 hours.(30)

At Eli Ruby, we have a selection of full spectrum CBD and Delta 9 THC products for sale, including our Extra Strength CBD Full Spectrum Capsules.  All our products are third-party tested, manufactured at an FDA-registered facility, and are 100% natural. Enjoy our full spectrum line today!

References:

  1. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals” Published: December 2012 Author: Zerrin Atakan.

  2. Analytical Cannabis “CBD vs THC – What are the Main Differences?” Published: February 20, 2018 Author: jack Rudd

  3. Sleep Foundation “Using Cannabis As A Sleep Aid” Published: August 22, 2022 Authors: Danielle Panceco and Dr. Anis Rehman

  4. Eli Ruby CBD Website.  “Does CBD Oil Help You Sleep?”

  5. Healthline “A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System” Published: May 17, 2019 Author: Crystal Raypole, Medically review by Allan Carer, Pharm.D.

  6. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “An overview of the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor system and its therapeutic potential” Published: August 1, 2019 Authors: Bihua Bie, MD, PhD, Jiang Wu, MD, Joseph F. Foss, MD, and Mohamed Naguib, MB, BCh, MSc, FCARCSI, MD

  7. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System”  Published: March 12, 2014  Authors:  John M. McPartland,  Geoffrey W. Guy, and Vincenzo Di Marzo

  8. Science Daily “Cannabis study reveals how CBD offsets the psychiatric side-effects of THC” Published: September 13, 2019 Author: University of Western Ontario

  9. Project CBD “How CBD works: Learn how CBD works with your body’s endocannabinoid system. 

  10. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series” Published: April 1, 2019 Authors: Lucas Elms, BS, Scott Shannon, MD, FAACAP, Shannon Hughes, PhD, and Nicole Lewis, ND

  11. Forbes Health “CBD Oil: 9 Science-Backed Benefits” Published: June 7, 2022 Authors: Lauren Silva, medically reviewed Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.

  12. Nature | Communications Biology “The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol”  Published: January 19, 2021 Authors: Mark A. T. Blaskovich, Angela M. Kavanagh, Alysha G. Elliott, Bing Zhang, Soumya Ramu, Maite Amado, Gabrielle J. Lowe, Alexandra O. Hinton, Do Minh Thu Pham, Johannes Zuegg, Neil Beare, Diana Quach, Marc D. Sharp, Joe Pogliano, Ashleigh P. Rogers, Dena Lyras, Lendl Tan, Nicholas P. West, David W. Crawford, Marnie L. Peterson, Matthew Callahan & Michael Thurn 

  13. CFAH “CBD for Energy, Focus and Concentration: Can It Help?”  Published: June 28, 2022 Author: Livvy Ashton

  14. CBD Clinicals “CBD Oil For Cancer”  Published: August 2022  Authors: Stanely Clark, medically revised by Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

  15. Medical News Today “What to know about terpenes”  Published: March 6, 2020  Authors: Jon Johnson, medically reviewed by Eloise Theisen, RN, MSM, AGPCNP-BC

  16. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “Flavonoids--food sources and health benefits” Published: 2014 Authors: Aleksandra KozłowskaDorota Szostak-Wegierek

  17. Healthline “CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?”  Published: September 13, 2022  Authors: Kimberly Holland, medically revised by Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC

  18. Healthline: The Entourage Effect: “The Entourage Effect: How CBD and THC Work Together”  Published: December 13, 2019  Authors: Raj Chander, medically reviewed by Alan Carer, Pharm.D.

  19. Project CBD “CBD DOSING | High dose?  Low dose? CBD? THC? Optimizing your medical use of cannabis may entail some experimentation.   Published: May 16, 2018 Author: Martin A. Lee

  20. Eli Ruby Blog: Can CBD Help with Depression and Anxiety?

  21. Congressional Research Service “The 2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334): Summary and Side-by-Side Comparison”  Published: February 22, 2019  Authors: Mark A. McMinimy

  22. CFAH “Is CBD Oil Legal? Legal Status of CBD in 50 States in 2022” Published: August 22, 2022  Author: Livvy Ashton

  23. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “Cannabinol (CBN) Cross-Reacts with Two Urine Immunoassays Designed to Detect Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Metabolite”  Published: May 1, 2020  Authors: Grace M Kroner, Kamisha L Johnson-Davis, Kelly Doyle, Gwendolyn A McMillin

  24. Drugs.com “Cannabidiol Interactions”

  25. Lab Manager “THC vs CBD: Uses, Side Effects, and Structure” Published:  September 29, 2019 Author: Michelle Dotzert, PhD

  26. Drugs.com “Cannabidiol Interactions”

  27. Web MD “THC May Spell Relief From Chronic Pain: Study”  Published: June 8, 2022  Author: Will Pass

  28. CBD Clinicals “CBD Oil for Pain” August 2022 Authors: Stanley Clark, medically reviewed by Aaron Wiegmann, BS, FL, MD, MS

  29. Eli Ruby Blog "Can CBD Help with Depression and Anxiety?”

  30. NIH | National Library of Medicine | PMC PubMed Central “Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics”  Published: August 2007  Author: Marilyn A. Huestis

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