Now that cannabis is beginning to be recognized as a medicine and legitimized at state level, there are more and more options out there for those looking to self medicate.
However, when you first walk into the dispensary or talk to your doctor about cannabis medication, you’ll be immediately hit with a choice: do you want CBD oil or THC oil? You know that there’s a difference, obviously, but what’s best for the condition you have? What conditions are best treated by CBD or THC?
Let’s take a look at the main differences between CBD oil and THC oil, alongside a few different conditions commonly treated with different cannabis oils and which ones you should choose.
What is CBD Oil & What Does it Do?
CBD oil is made from extracted cannabidiol, one of the two major cannabinoids within cannabis. CBD acts pretty differently from other cannabinoids, so much so that it doesn’t actually possess any psychoactive properties.
When you ingest CBD, it is digested by your body and metabolized in your liver. It then interacts with a health system in your body called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, has two main receptors: The CB1 and CB2 receptors. These help monitor and control a variety of different functions in the body. The location of these receptors is what slows them to have an effect on different biological processes; for example, the CB1 receptor is mostly found in the brain and central nervous system, but the CB2 receptor is spread more liberally throughout the body.
The CB1 receptor is what helps the body make and release neurochemicals and hormones such as serotonin and melatonin, which help both govern your sleep cycle and how you feel on a day to day basis. However, the CB2 receptor is all about the regulation of cell re-growth and reproduction, as well as the body’s inflammation response. This latter characteristic is one of the principle reasons people take CBD to help with pain.
What’s particularly interesting about CBD is that it interacts with the ECS in a very unique way – it finds the receptors in your body, but instead of attaching itself directly and stimulating them consistently, they simply encourage gradual stimulation by influencing them indirectly through endocannabinoids, allowing for their medicinal effects to be felt without any psychoactive interference or irritation.
This is a complete contrast to THC and its more “vigorous” psychoactive interaction with the body.
What is THC Oil & What Does it Do?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or (because no one has time to write or say such a long word) THC for short, is the other primary cannabinoid within cannabis.
THC goes through the same process as CBD in regard to its metabolization and eventual interaction with the endocannabinoid system. However, when THC interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it attaches itself to the receptors in an especially overwhelming way.
It stimulates these receptors on a continuous basis, causing them to become overwhelmed and sometimes producing an excess of effects. Additionally, THC has a penchant for focusing on the CB1 receptor rather than the CB2 receptor, meaning THC mostly interacts with the ECS within the brain and central nervous system.
These two qualities of THC are the primary reasons that it gets you high – it over-stimulates the CB1 receptors and causes an excess release of powerful chemicals that make you feel happy, but it also disorientates you, making you lose gradual grasp over time and your own spatial awareness.
When you start explaining psychoactive highs, they can seem a bit boring, can’t they?
Putting it like this, THC might sound pretty dangerous, but the high gained from THC is not anywhere near the intensity or danger of harder drugs, so most people consider it to be fine, especially if you need THC for medical reasons.
In fact, THC has just as many medical benefits as CBD, though it works with the body in different ways and has different uses.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most common conditions treated by cannabis oils and see which oils are best suited for each.
CBD vs THC for Inflammation Disorders
Inflammation might seem like a general category, but there are actually a surprisingly large number of conditions which result in excessive painful inflammation. From common arthritis to the lesser-known (but all the more annoying and painful) psoriasis, the majority of these disorders can cause irritation in the skin and inflammation along the joints and tender places of the skin. This inflammation might be long-lasting, aching, or just otherwise horrendously unpleasant.
Between CBD oil and THC oil, most would agree that CBD oil is the most suited to treating these conditions. This is because CBD interacts far more with the CB2 receptor than does THC, and it’s the CB2 receptor that helps govern inflammation.
In a now famous study for the National Academy of the Sciences, researchers discovered that CBD also works in a unique way to help combat inflammation; by acting as a direct antagonist of the adenosine receptor (better known as A2A), it essentially gets the A2A receptor to stop sending out the signals necessary for the body’s inflammation response.
Basically, CBD can help flip the switch on your body’s inflammation response. Though THC does in some small way impact inflammation, CBD has demonstrated through scientific investigations its ability to help mitigate pain that arises as a result of inflammation.
CBD vs THC for Anxiety
Anxiety is a difficult condition to pin down, as its primary symptom is an unending series of negative thought patterns. What essentially happens is the individual’s brain keeps them on a negative tract of emotion, whether through a genetic predisposition to the condition or through some kind of experienced trauma. This anxiety can affect every aspect of their life, from feeling unable to deal with social situations to even just preparing for work.
To help combat this ailment, CBD oil has been the preferred cannabis-based treatment option in recent years. Thanks to its interaction with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD is able to help act as an anti-anxiety medication without any of the significant side effects commonly suffered using anti-anxiety drugs.
A study by Crippa et al. found that, during testing, CBD worked essentially the same effect as common anti-anxiety drugs, reducing levels of cortisol and general stress and acting as an anxiolytic, but without causing any serious mood displacement or disruption. Though we still don’t 100% understand the mechanics behind CBD’s effect on feelings of anxiety, we can certainly observe the results and obvious helpful effects.
Most significantly, it appears that CBD offers sufferers of anxiety and other mental disorders a way to treat their conditions without the risks of other highly addictive drugs commonly used, like benzodiazepines. Considering that most patients with these conditions are forced to risk a serious addiction just to treat their illness, CBD could offer a serious way to help them without significant drawbacks.
CBD vs THC for Cancer Treatment
It’s an old adage that patients suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy smoke cannabis. People have been doing this as long as chemotherapy has existed, and this trend is not likely to change. The main reason people consume cannabis while undergoing chemotherapy is due to both its anti-nausea effects and its ability to help reduce pain.
THC is typically best for this as it works along with the CB1 receptor, which is theprincipale receptor responsible for the pain response. This helps combat the well-known sickness and general pain felt while undergoing chemotherapy, improving the patient’s quality of life and general happiness.
However, it turns out that there is in fact more reason than just treating symptoms to take THC while suffering from cancer.
In a landmark study by Ladin et al. for Frontiers in Pharmacology, the ability of cannabis to actually try and treat cancerous cells was explored. Researchers discovered that not only was cannabis useful in improving patient’s lives, it also helped control the signal pathways responsible for the body’s natural defenses against cancer.
After taking cannabis, a larger proportion of test subjects were able to help recover from cancer than those that didn’t; during in vitro testing, cancer cells were actually actively destroyed by THC when it encountered them.
The exact reason for cannabis seemingly natural ability to fight cancer isn’t understood just yet, which is why it cannot be used as a treatment for the tragic disease. However, it could offer some assistance to people suffering the negative effects of chemotherapy.
Final Thoughts: Should You Use CBD Oil or THC Oil?
CBD oil and THC oil are being purchased, prescribed, and used in rapidly increasing numbers throughout the USA and the rest of the world. Though it’s mainly CBD oil that people think of when considering cannabis as a medicine, it turns out that there are a variety of conditions that are treated in different ways by either CBD or THC.
Though THC does have the “side effect” of a psychoactive high that some people might not want to experience (especially if they need to take their medication on a regular basis throughout the day), it could offer medicinal benefits that CBD oil simply cannot achieve on its own.
The choice between CBD oil or THC oil ultimately comes down to you, so make sure you pick the right medicine for your condition – they’re both fantastic, just in different ways.
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