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The cannabis plant is well known by now. However, what most people still don’t realise is that cannabis and its genus are loaded with more than 100 different cannabinoids (chemical compounds which contain massive healing properties). However, Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two the most active and actively studied variants. The medical fraternity’s interest in CBD and THC is not without reason. Researchers have found them to be extremely effective against scores of illnesses and mental disorders, some of them chronic and life threatening in nature.
Because cannabis has always been linked with addiction and abuse, its full potential as an alternative medicine has not been exploited. Nonetheless, things are changing, as more and more states are buckling under political and social pressure to legalize the use of medical marijuana exclusively for medicinal purpose.
Interestingly, the chemical structure of both CBD and THC is very similar to the endocannabinoids which are naturally occuring in the human body. And this is what makes them unique. CBD and THC can communicate with human body through the endocannabinoid system which is like a control station that regulates an amazing range of functions and emotions including the nervous system. Some the major triggers managed by human ECS system include – Memory, pain, mood, appetite, sleep, responses to various internal and external challenges.
How Do CBD and THC Work?
Plant cannabinoids and human endocannabinoids work in a similar manner, that is, they interact with ECS receptors called CB1 and CB2 which are present throughout the body. The bulk of these cb1 and cb2 receptors are located in human brain which as mentioned above is the control station for hundreds of functionalities.
CBD and THC typically modify the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. While THC directly hooks on to the receptors and alters various signals depending on its location, CBD on the other hand influences these receptors indirectly, through modulation. That is the reason why topical application of THC medicines results in quick relief, especially for those dealing with chronic pain. THC has this unique ability to quickly bind with various receptors located within the body which results in equally fast stimulation.
While each of these cannabinoids has several medicinal values, it is CBD’s wider spectrum of therapeutic benefits which makes it a perfect candidate for future explorations and experiments. Moreover, it does not interact with the cannabinoid receptors directly which means the body’s ECS system is in no way tampered with. CBD actually prompts the body to produce its own cannabinoids to hasten the healing process.
The Verdict – CBD Versus THC
One of the most important factors that differentiate CBD from THC is the psychoactive ingredient. Although both possess admirable and invaluable therapeutic properties, THC due to its high percentage of psychoactive element is considered less safe from a medical point of view. Moreover THC’s illegal status has curtailed the scope of its research and application.
On the other hand CBD has almost nil psychoactive component, and at the same time boasts a plethora of healing properties. As a result, CBD is being touted as the future of alternative medicine. However, it does not mean THC doesn’t have any role to play. It does have some remarkable uses, but until the restrictions in terms of research and clinical trials are eased THC will remain second fiddle to CBD and out of the reach of ordinary people suffering from chronic ailments.
Medical science has come a long way and maybe the future will see some breakthrough in THC’s acceptance albeit under certain conditions. Meanwhile, CBD continues to hog the limelight, but not without apprehensions from some schools within the medical science community.