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medical benefits of thc vs cbd

These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, which affects many areas of the brain and body. Since cannabinoid receptors are so common and THC activates those, the effects of THC are wide-ranging, Piomelli says. Common effects of THC that often draw people to recreational use include:

Their effects are responsible for the recreational and possible medicinal use of the cannabis plant, says Daniele Piomelli, PhD, director of the University of California Irvine’s Center for the Study of Cannabis, and professor of anatomy and neurobiology, biological chemistry, and pharmacology.

What is CBD?

CBD can be taken as a tincture, gummy, or by other means, but is not generally smoked, which THC often is. Since CBD is a legal substance, its production and dosage are not regulated.

Many states have legalized marijuana to treat conditions ranging from anxiety to glaucoma. However, it’s important to recognize that chemically, there is no distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, says Aaron Weiner, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and addictions specialist.

CBD and THC, the two main chemicals found in the cannabis plant, both have potential health benefits. However, research on both is extremely limited, since hemp (containing CBD) was federally illegal until 2018, and marijuana (containing THC) remains federally illegal.

THC use may also result in unpleasant side effects such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, and memory loss.

Like THC, CBD can also be consumed in a number of different forms. CBD oils can be formulated for vaping, although there have been recent concerns about the health dangers posed by vaping.

While THC and CBD share similarities, there are some key differences between the two compounds.

FDA-Approved Medications

While cannabis itself has not been FDA approved to treat any condition, there are a few drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that contain CBD or THC.  

CBD is often used to alleviate symptoms associated with:

Although CBD in certain forms is legal in most states, the specifics of the legality of any THC or CBD product can vary from one state to the next. Several states have also approved the use of marijuana and THC for recreational purposes.

Both THC and CBD are stored in body fat, which means that both can potentially be detected on drug tests for some time after you have stopped using them.

In less than two years, Charlotte went from a monthly seizure count of 1,200 to about three. Other success stories followed and more parents have begun to speak out, particularly parents desperate for access to this life-saving treatment.

Although THC is best known for its mind-altering euphoria, it too has important medical benefits. There’s some overlap in what CBD and THC can treat, but THC is particularly effective in relieving nausea, appetite loss, insomnia, among other symptoms. Many patients find that a balance of CBD and THC offers the best symptom relief as the two work together synergistically.

An easy way to think about it is that THC is defined by what cannabis makes you feel, while the effects of CBD can’t be felt. The important distinction is that, unlike THC, CBD will not intoxicate you. It also addresses one of the most common reasons people choose to use CBD—pain management.

CBD vs. THC: legality

Dravet’s Syndrome is notoriously resistant to current treatment methods. People with the condition are plagued by seizures, often up to hundreds a day, and they usually worsen as people age and can be life-threatening. Currently, treatment methods include having a child wear an eyepatch, specialized diets, and brain surgery, but all have mixed success rates.

Though clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests CBD can help manage different conditions, CBD became most famous for treating a rare and debilitating form of pediatric epilepsy.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of CBD, check out our CBD Guide.

CBD strains can be consumed just as you would THC strains. You can smoke or vaporize CBD-rich flower, eat a CBD-infused edible, swallow a CBD oil capsule, apply a CBD lotion, or use a CBD tincture sublingually. Hemp products also contain CBD, though it is a less efficient source and lacks the beneficial chemical diversity of cannabis-derived CBD products (more on that here).