CBD vs. THC: What's The Difference
In the last decade, cannabis and the various products that come from the notorious plant have taken both holistic and modern medicine by storm with its health benefits. Cannabis has done this in several major ways, helping cancer patients cope with the harsh side effects of their treatment to giving pet parents a new way to care for their furry friends.
However, many would say it’s the crop's ability to help treat drug-resistant forms of epilepsy that truly let it break into the mainstream — along with it being the driving force behind legalization in many places. Where it was once only suitable for adults to use cannabis to control their seizures — due to the side effect of the high — thanks to research and modern technology, this is no longer the case. Now, we have cannabis products like hemp derived CBD products that can help treat those drug-resistant forms of epilepsy without causing a high. This makes it safe to give kids and pets cannabis, and this is fantastic because there are so many places this crop can benefit health.
The reason you no longer have to get high to enjoy the many health benefits of cannabis is because they are not all due to a single compound. Instead, the effects are a result of hundreds of unique compounds. These compounds have both an individual and synergistic effect on the body. They individually interact with a group of regulatory receptors in the body, that when activated, promote homeostasis, encouraging stability in the area they are located.
For the most part, we can break down these therapeutic compounds into two groups: cannabinoids and terpenes. Today we are talking about the two most well-known compounds: CBD and THC, their health benefits, along with what makes them different and the same.
Now, while a CBD company, both THC and CBD have their pros and cons, and this article intends to take an honest look into the subject. We want pet parents and others to have what they need when making important decisions concerning their and their furry friends' health. Whether you’re interested in CBD for yourself or CBD for dogs and cats or another pet, this article is going to guide you into making the best choice for you and others while explaining the differences between CBD and THC.
CBD vs THC
While there are hundreds of therapeutic compounds in cannabis, without a doubt, the two most popular are CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
The first thing to know about the difference between CBD and THC is one is not inherently better than the other. They both serve important roles in medicine. In fact, while there is one major difference between CBD and THC, they are more alike than unalike. They are both used to help with anxiety, pain, appetite, epilepsy, etc.
Both THC and CBD happened to be cannabinoids, and they are abundantly found in cannabis. As well, they both interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the two cannabinoid receptors with the biggest influence on the therapeutic effects cannabis gives us and other mammals. This happens because all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, which is a regulatory system that spans the entire body composed of endocannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that interact with them.
Now there is that one major difference. When enough THC is consumed, it will cause a high that can bring along notable side effects. Again, this isn’t denying cannabinoid’s therapeutic strengths, which for the most part surpass CBD’s.
CBD, on the other hand, is awesome because no amount will trigger the high associated with THC. However, its effects are greatly dependent on the synergistic nature of the other compounds found in cannabis, including THC (The entourage effect).
Marijuana vs. Hemp
Both hemp and marijuana are terms we used to describe the two main varieties of the plant cannabis. The main thing used to separate them is the amount of CBD vs. THC naturally found in them. The marijuana variety naturally carries more THC than the hemp variety does. So much so that if you smoke it, you will get high. Hemp, on the other hand, won’t get you high because there isn’t enough psychoactive compound.
In the United States, as outlined under the 2018 Farm Bill, any plant with no more than 0.3% THC can legally be defined as industrial hemp, allowing for legal sale and consumption in all 50 states.
What Is THC?
When most people think of THC, they immediately associate it with marijuana or getting high. In truth, while it’s not the cleanest association to make, it’s a decent starting point. THC is the culprit behind marijuana’s high for two reasons. First, THC can cause a high because of how it attaches to CB1 receptors, which are prominently found in the nervous system and brain. By attaching to this receptor to a greater degree than our self-created cannabinoids can, the regulatory response of the cannabinoid receptor is greater, creating a “high” feeling.
The more CB1 receptors activated by THC, the greater the high. And this is a key point, and the second reason THC is the sole culprit behind marijuana’s high. While some other phytocannabinoids can do the same — potentially to a greater degree than THC — they appear in such low amounts they either can’t activate enough receptors or they are blocked from doing it by another phytocannabinoid like CBD.
On their own, a cannabis plant produces more THC than any other cannabinoids found in these crops, and with modern agricultural practices, that ratio is greatly extended. Marijuana and THC products are typically anywhere between 20-90% THC now. On the other hand, you can find high-CBD products with less than 0.3% THC, preventing a high because there isn’t enough. As well, hemp-derived CBD products — also from cannabis plants — are boosted with the cannabinoid CBD, which is one of the cannabinoids that block other cannabinoids from overstimulating CB1 receptors.
The psychoactive properties of THC are due to its affinity for CB1 receptors found in the nervous system, many of the regulatory health effects of the system are greatly increased. Not only does this result in euphoria due to the system's ability to mediate anxiety, but it can also have positive non-intoxicating results. To better understand how THC affects the body, we can simply take a look at what the nervous system does to get a good idea.
The nervous system controls:
- Brain growth and development
- Sensations (such as touch or hearing)
- Perception (the mental process of interpreting sensory information)
- Thought and emotions
- Learning, memory, and memory loss
- Movement, balance, and coordination
- Healing and rehabilitation
- Stress and the body’s responses to stress
- Breathing and heartbeat
- Body temperature
- Hunger, thirst, and digestion
- Puberty, reproductive health, and fertility
As you can see, THC can regulate sleep, healing, perception of pain, and appetite. And because of its abundance in cannabis and ability to activate CB1 receptors to a degree not naturally achievable in the body(causing a psychoactive response), THC’s ability to help is currently unmatched by any other cannabinoid. However, it’s THC’s strength that also leads to its downfall.
What Are The Side Effects Of THC?
By taking a look at the role of the nervous system, you’ll start seeing the picture of how THC can really help and hurt.
Then, while there are cannabis products for dogs, cats, and other pets, it's important to note that not all mammals are the same. In fact, dogs have significantly more CB1 receptors than we do, making their response to THC greater. So much so that while THC is considered non-toxic to us, it is toxic to dogs and can even kill them. As such, this means giving your dog or any pet any form of marijuana isn’t a good idea until we know more.
Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid the effects of THC cannabis, successfully reducing many of the scary side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol.
First, we can reduce the THC which we see in both CBD and medical marijuana products. This can help keep its positives positive by preventing it from strongly attaching to too many cannabinoid receptors, preventing it from creating the psychoactive effects of THC we commonly associate with it. As well, this can prevent a receptor that promotes calm when lightly activated from being overactive, where it changes its psychoactive effects to raising anxiety.
Second, because this system plays a role in brain growth and puberty, we really don’t want something that can mess with that ever, so imposing age limits on high-THC consumption is a good way to work around the side effects.
What Is CBD?
CBD can be quite a confusing term, as it stands for two things. We learned above that CBD is a cannabinoid like THC that has significant therapeutic effects on the body. But we also learned that it greatly relies on many of the other compounds found in the cannabis plant to achieve this, called the entourage effect. By manipulating the CBD extract, you can create one of three products; Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate.
Because CBD needs the assistance of some of the other compounds, both Full Spectrum hemp derived CBD and Broad Spectrum are the most popular forms.
Full spectrum means the product contains all the cannabinoids and terpenes naturally found in cannabis sativa hemp plants. The amount of each cannabinoid and terpene preset can vary, but they must be present and this includes THC. However, because the amount of THC present doesn’t affect its status, only a very little amount needs to be included. Full spectrum CBD products are legally required to contain no more than 0.3% THC if they want to fall under the CBD hemp federal law and not marijuana laws. And this completely reduces the risk of a high but can help the cannabis product retain some of the health benefits of THC.
Next, we have CBD Broad Spectrum. A cannabis product becomes broad spectrum, the second an individual cannabinoid or terpene is removed. There are several reasons to do this. One reason is with broad spectrum, you can have a higher than normal concentration of the cannabinoids while keeping it with trace amounts of THC, keeping it under our hemp laws. This is great dog owners with larger dogs who need larger doses.
Another reason to create a broad spectrum CBD product is that not all cannabinoids are created equal. Some, like CBD, along with CBG and CBC, have more therapeutic effects, and the goal of broad spectrum is to increase potency of CBD by eliminating the less effective cannabinoid while retaining the entourage effect.
Like THC, CBD is able to work with the CB receptors of the endocannabinoid system. However, it can additionally help by directly increasing the number of natural endocannabinoids found in the body. While CBD appears to work with more receptors and in different ways than tetrahydracannabidiol can, CBD is never able to trigger an endocannabinoid to a greater degree than our natural cannabinoids. The result is no high and no abnormal feelings. This makes the feeling of CBD much more intangible than THC, and why it's described as non-psychoactive. While many of the effects of CBD vs. THC overlap, how they heal and what that feels like is very different.
For example, if you’re feeling pain or intense anxiety, large amounts of THC can very apparently and immediately take that away. But at the cost of a high that might affect memory, motor control, and potentially cause a greater awareness of the anxiety or pain. If you consume CBD instead, the pain is gradually dulled, still resulting in pain relief. Unlike THC, you may still feel the issue, but CBD can make it significantly manageable.
What Are The Side Effects Of CBD?
While CBD cannot cause a high and research backs its low side effect profile with studies showing it can help treat certain illnesses just as effectively as some prescription drugs without the harsh side effects, there are still some risks to using CBD.
Drowsiness and dry mouth have been reported, though at a much lower rate than they are with marijuana products. Another one of the godsends to choosing CBD over THC.
The biggest concern with CBD is its ability to inhibit CYP enzymes, which are responsible for breaking down a large number of prescription medications. While this may sound scary, there are many foods that do the same from grapefruit to kale. This actually makes it easy to tell if CBD or any cannabis product is even appropriate for you in the first place. If you or your pet are on a prescription drug that warns you about consuming CYP inhibitors like grapefruit, please consult your doctor or your veterinarian before using any cannabis product.
Unlike THC, the cannabinoid CBD isn’t deadly in any amount to dogs, and giving them CBD has become popular as such.
CBD vs. THC for Dogs, Cats, Horses, and Others
Choosing the best cannabis product for yourself can come with some challenges if both CBD and THC cannabis products are legal in your area. However, it’s an easy decision when it comes to our pets.
At the moment, it is only recommended to give your pet a CBD product.
Marijuana and high THC items are completely off the table. Dogs, in particular, are very sensitive to THC. Instead of getting them the normal high associated with THC, it can cause a dog to fall into a drunken stupor, leading them to become very ill. And while very rare, extremely high levels of THC can kill them. Small breed dogs and puppies are particularly at risk of this happening. The small levels of THC found in legal high-CBD items are completely safe for all mammals.
CBD For Pets and Pet Parents
While we’ve focused on the health benefits of CBD for humans, CBD can just as much help our pet out as it does us. Many pet owners, including all of us at Innovet Pet, have personally seen CBD help with a myriad of issues. It’s helped some of our best furry friends when they were going through cancer treatments. For our dogs, Gordon and Pearl, CBD has also been a big help for reducing their fear and anxiety during fireworks and thunderstorms. Then we’ve heard from thousands of others who have seen CBD help their furry friends with arthritis, epilepsy, pain (both chronic pain and temporary pain), and on.
CBD for pets comes in pretty similar forms as CBD for humans does. As well, the medical benefits of CBD are the same for dogs, cats, and us. There are pet CBD oils that completely resemble the ones we take. And you still have CBD snack options like CBD dog treats.
Buying Legal CBD, CBD Treats, And Others
Because different parts of the plant cannabis are legal while others are still illegal, along with THC for dogs being dangerous in high amounts, finding the right CBD oil for dogs can seem daunting. That’s why we are here to help walk you through choosing a high-quality CBD product for your pet.
- First, in many states, a high-CBD product is only legal when it has no more than 0.3% THC. As well, this amount ensures it is safe for dogs and cats who are sensitive to THC. Because of these importance, a great CBD company will always provide a Certificate of Analysis. This is awarded to a company that has had their CBD oil extract tested by an indeed lab for potency and accuracy. Not only ensure the CBD product is safe and legal, but that it contains the accurate amount of cannabidiol advertised.
- Second, you always want your CBD product derived from non-GMO, organically grown cannabis plants. In most cases, those crops are hemp. However, a legal CBD product can be derived from marijuana as long as the product itself contains the legally required trace amounts of THC.
We’ve discussed both CBD and THC, there is one more that needs mentioning. Where both CBD and THC are taken mainly from the flowers, the seeds can be used to create their own unique product. Meet hemp oil, sometimes called hempseed oil.
Rich in protein, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants, hemp oil makes its appearance in a variety of healthcare products, from skincare items to even CBD products, where it helps promote absorption of the cannabinoids and terpenes. Hemp seeds do not contain cannabinoids like THC and CBD, but they still have great health benefits and have no non-psychoactive effects.
So which is better for you, CBD or THC? In truth, both are incredible compounds that both have a world of effects on health that we’re still discovering so much about. But just because they both can improve doesn’t mean they should be used irresponsibly.
So while we can use marijuana responsibly, it’s currently off the table for our pets. THC for dogs can be particularly dangerous, as they are significantly more sensitive to it. This means giving your dog marijuana is off the table. However, that doesn’t mean all cannabis items are unsafe by far because CBD for dogs is A-OK! CBD for pets has been an incredible tool for many pet owners, giving them the ability to care for their pets’ health to a greater extent. Pet parents all around can rejoice!
When you’re looking for the best CBD oil, CBD dog treats, and other personal pet care items, just think Innovet Pet.