What Are They and What Are The Benefits?
CBD has become a buzzword of the health and wellbeing industry over the last few years and with more Governments, Countries and establishments becoming pro-cannabis, it can be easy to become lost in the jargon of what exactly CBD and THC are and how they can benefit us. Don’t worry though, this is easily cleared up!
What Is Cannabis?
When we think of cannabis, naturally we all think of the banned substance marijuana, but cannabis can be broken down into two families, sativa and hemp. Not all cannabis can give you the high and the psychoactive effects and not all cannabis is illegal. Cannabis sativa and hemp both have the same building blocks and compounds, but in differing quantities, so hemp, which is taxonomically cannabis, is legal. The differentiation between the two is important, especially when we are looking at CBD and CBD products.
What Is CBD?
Like with every organism on earth, cannabis is made from chemical building blocks and one of these building blocks is cannabidiol, which is more commonly known as CBD. CBD is one of approximately 85 cannabinoids (a family of similar compounds) found within cannabis species or sativa. CBD and other cannabinoids have been the focus of intense medical research over the last five years, with new understandings of how they interact with our bodies being uncovered on a daily basis. CBD does not have any psychoactive effects and doesn’t cause the high associated with cannabis.
What Is THC?
THC was unfortunate enough to be the focus of research throughout the 1970’s and scientists weren’t kind to this compound. THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the psychoactive component found in the marijuana plant of the cannabis family. Due to its impact on cognitive function, it caused legislation to outlaw the use of cannabis. However, with the changing of times, we are seeing more evidence to suggest that THC can be beneficial to humans. THC is found within all varieties of cannabis; however, it is most abundant in marijuana, which is the subtype of cannabis that is the focus of legislation that bans its use the world over.
What Are The Benefits Of CBD and THC?
All mammals are born with an endocannabinoid system, also known as the ECS. The ECS runs alongside other systems in our bodies, such as the nervous system, endocrine system as well as respiratory system. It is this system that works with the compounds found in cannabis that produces an array of results, which we are only just beginning to understand. The ECS system has receptors located in our brains (CB1), and on the cells of our immune system (CB2). When we take cannabis, whether it be marijuana or another variety, it binds with these receptors to produce an array of health benefits. CBD and other cannabinoids have been linked to immune system modulation. Traditional medicines either increase the activity of a specified system or they repress the activity of the target system, cannabis is different as it seeks out equilibrium. This means that it neither represses nor causes hyperactivity, resulting in a system that is resorted to a balanced state. This is particularly important in immune system function, as overactive and under active immune systems can cause wide ranging health problems and implications. The research is currently unsure of how cannabis does this, but this balance, or homeostasis can help people with immune system problems. THC has also seen a resurgence in medical research, with it being tested on children with medical resistant epilepsy. A whole plant extract (an extract that has all the building blocks of marijuana) was given to a variety of test subjects and it is believed that THC was the compound that put the subjects into seizure remission due to its anticonvulsant properties.
When we think of cannabis it is easy to default to marijuana and only think of it as a substance used just to get high, but as the research is showing, its applications and health benefits are wide ranging and we have only scratched the surface of the possible results. THC and CBD are different building blocks of the same plant and interact with different parts of our innate endocannabinoid system. Neither one or the other can be deemed as more or less beneficial to the human body as they bind with different cells to produce different results, what is clear though is that their positive impact is far reaching.