With the surging trend or spike in the number of individuals utilizing CBD oil as a safe and natural medical alternative, the growing inquiry surrounding the matter is one of how it differs from its close relative THC.
At this point in its developmental history, it is for the most part common knowledge that CBD lacks all of the properties that are responsible for generating a high as is inherent in its cannabinoid cousin THC, but beyond that there still lies a pressing concern as to what extent and what was can it be distinguished from THC.
The extent in which this is becoming a problematic factor is best illustrated in the vast number of news stories currently in circulation that tell of how police field tests can not differentiate between the two, and as such, this article will thoroughly examine the ways in which the two molecules differ from one another.
On a microscopic level, a break down of the ways in which these very similar molecules bring us back to the seemingly prehistoric days of an introductory biology or chemistry course as you would find in an academic environment.
At a glance, when scrutinizing both CBD and THC as one would hold a transient microorganism under a microscope, it is at first difficult to notice any hint at a kind of deviation between these two compounds.
From this vantage point, we see that on the most molecular level, that for the most part that the two are nearly identical in formation.
To summarize, both CBD and THC are two of the most typical chemical compounds that are derived from the cannabis genus of a sum total of over 113 cannabinoids that have been known to have been isolated; the first of which was THC respectively back in the 1940s.
Within this family group, it can be observed how both of these chemical compounds are identical copies of each other in terms of their molecular blueprint, specifically that of C21H30O2.
In addition to this, the two nearly parallel each other in insurmountable ways, such as the chemical properties as in their solubility levels in water which is extremely low, as well as their biosynthetic processes, but it is the main way in which these two very close relatives differ from each other that is particularly fascinating.
It’s in the Physiology of the Thing
It is at this point that the ways in which THC differs from CBD differ from each other become a much more complicated area that would require more intensified studies than that provided by your typical, or perhaps even advanced biology or chemistry courses.
However, at the core of things is the way in which, structurally speaking, that CBD is part of what is called a hydroxyl group, which is a fancy scientific term for describing a functional group wherein the atoms of said molecule create for foreseeable or expected chemical chain reactions, and in this specific exemplification, the hydroxyl group in question is that of OH.
Conversely, THC forms what is classified as a cyclic ring or compound in this ostensibly insignificant respect, which essentially means that what is happening at this molecular level is that THC forms a closed ring whereas CBD creates for an open ring or group.
It is this slight deviation that is crucial to a thorough understanding of the differences between these two very similar, yet vastly different cannabinoids.
When considering differing aspects of biochemistry, it is precisely at this given part of our genetic makeup where these different chemical compounds react with our natural cannabinoid receptors, specifically those involved with what is known as the endocannabinoid system or EC, as well as CB1 and CB2 receptors, resulting in tremendously separate effects which are directly related to physiology.
Through this process, the main difference between THC and CBD can be fully observed, and for the most part, it is a matter of how these molecules interact with our endocannabinoid system.
Generally speaking, the complex network that is our EC system which consists of the previously mentioned CB1 and CB2 receptors is largely responsible for regulating our bodies sense of homeostasis, by managing a full gamut of bodily functions including, but certainly not limited to sleep, mood, appetite, pain, fecundity, as well as digestion and a plethora of other related tasks.
In summary the distinguishing factor is found in the way that THC fully attaches, engages with, and binds itself to these specific receptors, with a greater inclination to latching itself onto the CB1 reactors specifically; for a visual image of this process think of the way the symbiotic creature in both Venom and Spiderman latched itself onto Peter Parker or Brock and you pretty much get the idea.
CBD stands out in this process in the way that it has little to no chemistry, or relationship with either of these receptors and instead, acts against THC like cannabinoid antagonists, while simultaneously showing the capacity to interact with other bodily agents such as serotonin and nuclear receptors.
The End Result
Herein lies the vast difference; through these processes THC directly effects the central nervous system in its attachment to the CB1 receptors, and as such directly impacts our physiological system by creating for the psychoactive symptoms and other more negative connotations that have become almost synonymous with THC as well as marijuana for that matter.
With CBD however, the open hydroxyl group addresses various issues within our bodily functions that directly affect inflammation, and as such, the end result is found in the many different treatments, symptoms, and side effects inherent within each of these chemical structures.
One the one side of the coin, the World Health Organization recently published a piece that identified that CBD has been known to treat epilepsy, as well as various other neurological disorders of the likes of Alzheimer’s, Autism, and Parkinson’s disease, in addition to providing for a natural remedy for pain, protecting the brain from injury and disease, aiding in sleep, decreasing nausea, reducing an individuals anxiety, depression, and other mental health related symptoms, while also addressing a full spectrum of cardiovascular concerns.
THC on the other hand, despite the matters of legality surrounding it, and its problematic grey areas, has been proven to reduce neuropathic pain, relieve depression and anxiety, boost the individuals with the stereotypical munchies, promote better sleep, and aid in the alleviation of muscle tension and spasms.
So, the next time you find yourself in a heated debate pertaining to marijuana, its legalization, the controversy surrounding it, and the differences between THC and CBD, you can confidently assert yourself that it is strictly a matter of a slight molecular structure deviation and the differing effects they impose on physiological state through the good old EC system.