Dive into Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD)
When it comes to cannabis, most people are familiar with the terms THC and CBD. That doesn’t mean that everybody is fully aware of how these chemical compounds (cannabinoids) work or the potential effects of each.
The cannabis plant has more than 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids; tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, THC and CBD, are just two of the most common. THC is the compound that is primarily responsible for the intoxicating ‘high’ feeling that weed is known for. In the plant it occurs as THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, this compound becomes delta-9 THC through a process known as decarboxylation. Simply put: decarboxylating means heating up, so burning or vaporizing the pot during the smoking process is decarboxylating! Alongside THC we find cannabidiol, CBD, known for having little to no intoxicating effects. CBD is also formed through decarboxylation, from CBDA or cannabidiolic acid instead of THCA.
- Cannabis products that are already decarboxylated (e.g., Honey oil) can be
consumed orally, either on their own or on top of a food item.
Once THC and/or CBD enter the body it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Studies have suggested that the endocannabinoid system plays partial roles in stress recovery, nervous system protection, immune system response, and overall health and function regulation. This system has two main components: endocannabinoids, and cannabinoid receptors. The consumption of marijuana allows the THC cannabinoid to temporarily bind to these receptors similarly to the naturally occurring cannabinoids within the human body. CBD interacts with the system differently from THC and in ways that are not fully understood. It is believed that CBD blocks a particular enzyme from being produced – this enzyme is responsible for regulating and destroying excess endocannabinoids – which allows more endocannabinoids to interact with the body, producing effects within the body and mind. It is known that CBD interacts with receptors in the nervous systems, known for regulating fear and anxiety, but the exact extent of this interaction requires more research.
Regarding the potential effects of THC and CBD, it can be different for each person depending on age, sex, weight, physical fitness, as well as several other factors. This is also why it is difficult for people to determine a ‘perfect’ dose without experimentation. The length of time that the cannabinoids are active and potentially causing effects will differ from person to person depending on an individual’s physical factors, the method of consumption, and the quantity of cannabis consumed. The results of each cannabinoid can last up to 24 hours and THC can remain in the system for more than 24 hours.
THC, of the major cannabinoids found within marijuana, has the most information readily available about its potential effects, but it is important to know there is still room for experimentation and research to back up and clarify some claims. Many people believe that the effects of THC will be affected by the terpenes and cannabinoid content of the plant, known as the Entourage effect: While widely supported by anecdotal evidence, this is one of the topics that require further extensive research. Currently, few studies investigate the effects of specific combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids within the human body. Some of the most reported potential short-term effects include heightened feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calm, poor memory retention, tiredness or fatigue, anxiety, paranoia, panicked feelings, increased appetite, and an altered perception of time. For some, the long-term use of THC could potentially lead to memory and concentration problems, cannabis use disorder, psychosis, and/or schizophrenia.
CBD has many claims surrounding it – It can nourish and soothe skin, promote calm and sleep, and even ease physical pain – However, there is not nearly enough research behind any of these claims to back them up. There are currently several clinical trials underway in Canada to determine the effectiveness of CBD in treating a wide variety of conditions including, but not limited to, anxiety disorders, substance dependence withdrawal, and chronic headaches in adolescents. With recent research and surveys, it is suggested that CBD can be used to help with treating depression, sleep disorders, or even problematic marijuana use. Though, there’s still little to no confirmed information about the significant long-term efficacy of CBD for these conditions. Many of the studies currently available are still in trial phases, are studies to suggest further study, or are based on consumers self-reporting potential benefits with CBD.
If overconsumption is a concern or if you’re experiencing side effects such as chest pain, panic attacks, seizures, or have lost touch with reality; please seek medical assistance.