What is THC and How Is It Different to CBD?
THC frequently comes up in discussions about CBD, and this is because the two are closely linked. If you’re wondering what THC is, we’ve put together a guide to help you understand this cannabinoid.
What is THC?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the many cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis plants. It’s found in larger quantities in marijuana and in very minimal (if any) quantities in hemp plants. THC is responsible for the psychoactive qualities of marijuana - in other words, it gets you high.
How does THC affect you?
THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your brain and has an impact on your mental state. It overwhelms the endocannabinoid system, where your body’s functions are carefully balanced, which creates the feelings which are commonly described as being ‘high’.
After ingesting THC, which is most commonly done through marijuana use, many people will experience a pleasant euphoria and sense of relaxation. Other common effects may include heightened sensory perception, altered perception of time, an increased appetite and an increase in laughter.
However, negative effects of THC can include anxiety, fear, distrust, and panic because of the way it alters your mental state. These negative effects are more common when a person is inexperienced, takes too much or the product is extremely potent.
For these reasons, cannabis-derived products with a high level of THC (more than 0.2%) are currently illegal in the UK. Some exceptions to this THC limit can be made by doctors and medical professionals, who can prescribe medical cannabis to patients in rare cases.
Related article: CBD Law in the UK: What’s the Situation?
Are there medical benefits to THC?
Medical cannabis containing higher levels of THC can be prescribed to patients in certain circumstances (only fewer than 100 people are reported to have access to it in the UK).
UK citizen Carly Barton was one of the first patients to be prescribed with medical cannabis, and says that it has greatly helped her severe chronic pain. You can find out more about her story here.
Other conditions which medical cannabis might assist with are severe epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. However, doctors may suggest trying other methods and medicines first and will only prescribe cannabis-derived products with a THC level higher than 0.2% if they are certain that it’s the best solution.
What is CBD and is it different to THC?
CBD is another cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. Although the two are commonly spoken about together, CBD is actually quite different to its counterpart THC. The main difference is that, unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive impact on your brain. However, it has been reported to have a calming and relaxing effect.
Related article: What is CBD Oil?: A Beginner’s Guide
How do the two compounds interact in cannabis plants?
As mentioned earlier, both CBD and THC are found in cannabis plants. However, the amount of CBD and THC in each plant or each extract will vary, providing a different impact on the brain and body. Some people suggest that a very minimal amount of THC present in CBD products can help to improve its effectiveness. Others suggest that, for those taking THC for pain relief, adding CBD will help reduce the intoxicating effects of THC.
How can CBD be extracted from THC?
Although some broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products do contain very small amounts of THC, it is possible to extract CBD alone from a cannabis plant.
Typically, full spectrum CBD products will contain small amounts of other cannabinoids, terpenes and fatty acids which are present in the cannabis plant. However, you can also get a CBD isolate, which extracts only the CBD from the plant, without these other compounds.
CBD isolates may be a good option for those who aren’t completely sure about the presence of THC in their CBD. For example, if you’re concerned about THC showing up in a drug test, pure isolate CBD may be a way to limit those chances.
Related article: Does CBD Show Up On a Drug Test?
Hopefully, you’ve found this guide to THC useful. For more information about the effects of CBD and its related compounds, you can browse our CBD Effects section of the blog.