CBD (or cannabidiol) is gaining popularity among both consumers and scientists due to its long list of potential therapeutic health benefits. Though it can be used in conjunction with medical cannabis, the two are not synonymous, and only CBD is legal in all 50 states. As a result, a wave of new products containing this hemp derivative has hit the shelves of pharmacies and grocery stores alike. As it continues to become more publicly accessible, many people are turning to CBD products for better sleep, pain relief, stress relief, skincare, pet care, and beyond.
One major concern for those interested in beginning a regimen is whether CBD contains THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. In this guide, we'll address this and discuss the differences between CBD and THC, as well as help you to choose safe and effective CBD products in the future.
THC vs. CBD: What's The Difference?
CBD and THC are both phytocannabinoids that are found within the cannabis plant. CBD, unlike THC, does not have any psychoactive side effects and won't get you "high." Most people who take CBD feel relaxed and calm, though it can take several doses over a period of time for some individuals to experience its full effects. CBD users also report feeling more emotionally balanced, are in less pain, and are able to fall and stay asleep faster.
The THC in cannabis can offer the same pain-relieving, calming effects that CBD does but can cause side effects that not everyone needs or wants to experience. THC can make you feel drowsy, hungry, and euphoric and can alter your perception and reaction time. THC, like CBD, affects everyone differently; for some individuals, consuming too much THC may cause anxiety, paranoia, confusion, or even nausea. For this reason, manufacturers of CBD products must abide by federal regulations- ensuring that there is less than 0.3% THC in their products to secure the safety and comfort of their consumers.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system, short for endogenous cannabinoid system and abbreviated as ECS, is responsible for creating and maintaining health in the human body. Neurotransmitters are called endocannabinoids, and the receptors that they attach to are found in every part of the body, from the brain to the immune system. These endocannabinoids operate in different ways depending on their location within the body and are tasked with keeping the body in balance in relation to the environment outside.
Researchers have discovered two different cannabinoid receptors in the body: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the nervous system, organs, and connective tissues, and CB2 receptors are localized in the immune system, though both exist together in many tissues. The body produces natural endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG to stimulate these receptors.
Phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoid compounds), like CBD and THC, also directly stimulate the ECS. Elevating your endocannabinoid levels by consuming phytocannabinoids may lead to an increase in natural endocannabinoid release within the body, which is why CBD and THC generally have a calming, stabilizing effect on most people.
Does CBD Have THC In It?
The level of THC in a CBD product is largely determined by its type and source. The only federally legal form of CBD is derived solely from hemp plants and must contain less than 0.3% THC by law. CBD that is derived from marijuana plants may contain higher levels of THC, and its legality varies from state to state. Be sure to check your state and local laws for clarification, and only buy CBD products from a company who third-party tests their products to guarantee their quality.
Types of CBD
CBD is generally available in three primary forms:
- CBD isolate
- Broad-spectrum CBD
- Full-spectrum CBD
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD available and contains 0.0% THC. Manufacturers extract the condensed CBD from the plant in the form of oil, which is then processed further to remove any impurities. When the other components native to the hemp plant (like terpenes, flavonoids, waxes, and plant material) have been filtered out, the CBD isolate is ready.
Broad-spectrum CBD is also THC-free, but it retains all the other non-psychoactive compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. These compounds are thought to work in tandem with CBD to produce more effective results, which is called the Entourage Effect. A 2015 study on this effect suggests that terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabis compounds can make CBD treatments more effective over time. Some consumers prefer to use broad-spectrum CBD because of its purity, price, and prevalence within the market, though it can still be harder to find than full-spectrum CBD.
Finally, full-spectrum CBD is the most common type of cannabidiol. It contains the entire spectrum of compounds contained within the cannabis plant, including any oils, terpenes, and flavonoids that are present-- even THC. The amount of THC present in this type of CBD is very small, but heavy and frequent doses may cause THC to show up on a drug test. To be considered federally legal, this type of CBD must be harvested exclusively from hemp plants and contain less than 0.3% THC. Be sure to verify the source of any full-spectrum CBD you intend to buy and stick with trusted manufacturers to ensure its purity.
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