CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is regarded to be among the popular two cannabinoids out of the 113 found till date. These compounds are present in nature, in plants of cannabis genus type, termed phytocannabinoids. They also are known to interact with CB1 & CB2 receptors present in the endocannabinoid system found in mammals.

It was in 1940 that CBD was isolated and in 1964 THC followed suit by Raphael Mechoulam, an eminent cannabis scientist. At a fundamental level, both are considered to be different due to their differing psychological effects. THC is known to be psychotropic and offers that ‘high’, while CBD is slated to be non-psychotropic, not offering that ‘high’.

Some key differences

  • Structures: Both share the same C21H30O2 molecular formula comprising of 30 hydrogens, 2 oxygen, and 21 carbon atoms. Even molecular mass is identical. One significant difference can be noticed structurally. CBD comprises hydroxyl group, while THC has a cyclic ring. This small difference noticed in their molecular structure is what is said to provide the two compounds with different pharmacological properties.
  • Chemical properties: Although they have low water solubility, for most of the organic solvents, especially alcohols and lipids, they have good solubility. They are available in cannabis in acidic mixture forms, chemically altered on heating and readily de-carboxylated. THC can bind plastic and glass.
  • Psychological effects: THC being potent partial CB1 agonist tends to stimulate the CB1 receptor, thereby causing psychotropic effects upon consumption of cannabis. But CBD is termed as CB1’s negative allosteric modulator. This means the CB1 receptor’s shape is effectively altered. It is this change which causes challenges for THC type CB1 agonists to stimulate receptor. Since CBD is not able to stimulate or bind CB1, it is cited to be the reason to not produce THC’s psychotropic effects.
  • Medical use: CBD is popularly used to treat health ailments like anti-seizure, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-psychotic, anti-tumor effects, depression, and inflammatory bowel disease. THC, on the other hand, is used to treat anti-nauseant analgesic, diminishes glaucoma symptoms, appetite stimulant, muscular spasticity, anti-anxiety and as a sleep aid.

In short, THC & CBD does have potential clinical uses and is proven to be beneficial. Like CBD, different kinds of anecdotal and scientific evidence tend to support THC usage as medicine. Its potential uses include treatment of pain due to accident or injury, neuropathic pain, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, etc. Getting to know about them in details can help take the right decision.