CBD vs THC: Which Is the Superior Cannabinoid?
CBD, a relatively new player in the wellness market, is a cannabinoid that has generated considerable buzz. But this newfound interest has yet to surpass the popularity of another cannabis compound, THC. These two phytocannabinoids are different, yet there's still plenty of people who mistake one for the other. Here, we will compare and contrast CBD vs. THC, so you can learn about their similarities, differences, and impact on health.
CBD vs. THC: An overview
CBD and THC are the two most well-known cannabinoids found naturally within the cannabis plant. They even share an identical chemical formula with 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms (although their molecular structures are unique because of chemical bond differences).
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is best known as the "high" inducing catalyst in marijuana strains. In contrast, CBD, or cannabidiol, is considered to be non-psychotropic. It may even counteract some of the negative psychological effects of THC, although more research is needed to understand those dynamics fully.
CBD and THC both act in the body to impact our health through the vast endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has regulatory functions throughout the body, helping maintain a stable physiological state called "homeostasis." This is why CBD and THC are linked to balancing effects in the body, but it's the way these cannabinoids engage our ECS that reveals differences.
The ECS includes cannabinoid receptors in many organs throughout the body. CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the central nervous system (including the brain), while CB2 receptors are more densely located in the peripheral nervous system and immune system. THC has a strong tendency to bind with brain-based CB1 receptors, which is why it can deliver mind-altering effects. In contrast, CBD interacts with receptors indirectly, with exact mechanisms still being elucidated. Its higher affinity for CB2 receptor interactions is thought to generate a more wide-reaching impact on the body, mediating processes like immune response, inflammation, and pain.
Legally speaking, differences in CBD and THC vary depending on your location and whether the product is marijuana or hemp—different substrains of the Cannabis sativa plant. There are currently 11 US states, plus Washington D.C., that allow recreational use of all cannabis products, including THC-heavy marijauna strains. More than 30 states permit THC use as medical marijuana.
So what about CBD? The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized "industrial hemp" and hemp-derived products (for example, CBD oil) in all 50 states. Industrial hemp encompasses distinct strains of Cannabis sativa in which CBD predominates and THC is very low (less than 0.3% THC by dry weight). This legislative change paved the way for more widespread innovation and use of hemp-derived CBD products with trace levels of THC.
The health benefits of CBD vs. THC
When comparing CBD and THC, most people are curious about the benefits of each compound, and how they stack up against one another. Research on the health effects of THC and CBD is an active area of research. Robust clinical (human) trials on cannabinoids CBD and THC have been conducted for cannabinoid-based prescription drugs:
- dronabinol (THC)
- nabilone (THC)
- nabiximols (THC + CBD)
- Epidiolex (CBD)
- nabiximols (THC + CBD)
The approved clinical indications for these cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals provide interesting intel into the health effects of THC alone, CBD alone, and the THC + CBD combination:
Cannabinoid-Based Prescription Drug Health Effects
- THC alone: Improves chemotherapy-induced nausea in patients with cancer
- THC alone: Stimulates appetite in patients with wasting syndrome due to AIDS
- CBD alone: Improves epilepsy in two severe forms of childhood seizures (Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes)
- THC + CBD: Improves muscle spasticity and neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis
The next set of evidence comes from studies on medical cannabis, which includes THC, CBD, and myriad compounds from the marijuana plant (other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc.). Because of this entourage, THC and CBD effects do not exist in siloes. Here is the science on the potential health benefits of the cannabis plant.
Medical Cannabis (Marijuana) Health Effects
- Reduces pain, especially neuropathic pain
- Lessens pain and muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis
- Improves seizure control in epilepsy
- Improves anxiety, including in post-traumatic stress disorder
- Promotes sleep
- Helps with headaches
- Attenuates inflammation, including in inflammatory bowel disease
- Lessens nausea
Like medical cannabis, CBD products derived from industrial hemp also contain an array of plant bioactives, but a key difference is that THC levels are very low (< 0.3 %, per law). Therefore, hemp-derived CBD products give us insights into CBD dominant effects. Well-designed clinical trials are few, as these products are relatively new in the market. Here we summarize CBD centric areas of potential health support.
CBD-Specific Health Support
- Helps with anxiousness
- Supports sleep
- Helps combat pain
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Supports immune response
Do CBD products contain THC?
When it comes to CBD products, there are three different types of hemp extracts that go into creating these goods, two that are THC-free, and one with trace levels of THC.
Full-spectrum hemp extracts contain CBD, an array of minor cannabinoids (like CBG, CBN, and CBC), terpenes, flavonoids, and small amounts of THC (by law, the THC potency can not exceed 0.3%). There is potential for the "entourage effect," which describes the synergy of multiple cannabinoids and other hemp plant bioactives (e.g., terpenes) working in tandem.
However, there is a chance that even trace amounts of THC could appear on a drug test. If that's a deal-breaker for you, the good news is that it doesn't mean you have to abandon the idea of CBD. Products like pure CBD isolate have gone through a filtration process to strip out all non-CBD cannabinoids, including THC. An isolate is an attractive option for users who wish to avoid the presence of THC but still want to tap into the benefits of CBD. Broad spectrum hemp extracts also offer CBD with no THC content, and still contain minor cannabinoids and terpenes for those looking for a fuller plant profile, minus the THC.
We have highlighted three hemp derived CBD oil products below, two with THC and one without. All of these high quality, vetted brands use third-party lab testing to ensure the purity and potency of their CBD products.
Best CBD Oils with THC
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
For a full spectrum CBD oil, Spruce offers some of the most potent products on the market. The company's CBD oils are available in a 750 milligram tincture, or a 2,400 milligram option for those who need an extra strength CBD oil. These tinctures are very highly reviewed by customers, and contain no artificial flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners. Spruce CBD oils are made with organic hemp seed oil as the carrier oil, so it's hemp all around. This is a great CBD oil brand for pain.
Another great option for a CBD oil with terpenes and other cannabinoids, including trace levels of THC, comes from CBDistillery. This brand's full spectrum tinctures are available in a variety of strengths, such as 500, 1000, 2,500, or 5,000 milligrams per bottle. These high quality CBD oils are derived from non-GMO hemp, and come at affordable price points. CBDistillery also offers broad spectrum CBD oils if you'd rather avoid THC, but still benefit from other hemp plant compounds. This is a great CBD oil brand for anxiety.
Zero THC CBD Products
If a full spectrum oil with small amounts of THC isn't the route you're hoping to take, then take a look at this product made with pure CBD isolate:
Medterra's hemp derived CBD products are THC-free. Medterra offers an array of CBD oils, topicals, capsules, and gummies for every type of CBD user, but their traditional CBD isolate oil is our focus today. It's made with 99.6% pure CBD isolate and is blended with organic MCT oil derived from coconut for a smooth, unflavored tincture. You have three strength options, including 500, 1000, or 3,000 milligrams of CBD per bottle.
Is CBD better than THC?
By nature's design, the cannabis plant contains an array of cannabinoids, including the two most famous and well-studied: CBD and THC. While derived from the same plant, their mechanisms and effects are unique. Deciding on the right cannabinoid approach is a personal decision, and you'll need to ponder what benefits you hope to achieve.
One of the practical issues to check is the legality of products containing THC and CBD (i.e., medical cannabis vs. hemp-derived CBD products) in your state. Maybe you live in a state where THC from medical cannabis is legal but prefer a hemp-derived CBD product instead to avoid psychoactive effects of marijuana.
Whether your cannabis-based wellness plan includes CBD oil tinctures, medical cannabis edibles with high amounts of THC, or another delivery form, be sure to partner with your healthcare practitioner to personalize and adjust the product and dosage to your individual needs.
Josh Hall has been a professional writer and storyteller for more than 15 years. His work on natural health and cannabis has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review. The product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the link included, we may earn commission.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
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Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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