How do CBD and THC Interact in Your Body? Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of over 100 compounds isolated in the cannabis sativa plant species. Cannabis is also made up of over 500 compounds including flavonoids, terpenes and over 100 other cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. In the following article, we will discuss
How do CBD and THC Interact in Your Body?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of over 100 compounds isolated in the cannabis sativa plant species. Cannabis is also made up of over 500 compounds including flavonoids, terpenes and over 100 other cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. In the following article, we will discuss details on how these cannabinoids interact with our specialized endocannabinoid system ( ECS ) found in every mammal, including humans.
Our ECS comprises of both our central nervous and immune systems and is found throughout our bodies and includes our largest organ, the skin. Tiny receptors are found throughout our ECS and in layman’s terms, this is how our body interacts with phytocannabinoids delivered from cannabis sativa. Our bodies produce endocannabinoids which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind or interact with these cannabinoid receptors found along our ECS.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly populated and found throughout the central nervous system, especially the brain, kidney, lung and heart area. While CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system and within hemopoietic cells. This is the main reason why cannabis is such an effective treatment and medicine because it can easily be administered through a number of ways to interact with our ECS.
“The initial discovery and subsequent intensive research of the endocannabinoid system in the last three decades have revealed probably the most well-known retrograde neurotransmission system.” 2018 – Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System
It’s interesting to know that there is not just a system within our body that interacts directly with compounds from cannabis but also that the whole process is mimicked internally. As we have better understood our ECS in recent decades, we have only recently started understanding how THC and CBD work as a combined force resulting in an array of biological effects within our bodies. Scientists and researchers are still unsure exactly how cannabinoids work but we are getting closer.
CBD is a major cannabinoid found in the cannabis sativa variety known as hemp. Hemp is technically identified as cannabis with a volume of less than 0.3% THC. It was mainly used for its industrial purposes in the processing of fibre from its stalks and oils from its seeds. Since CBD has become widely popular for its potential medical benefits, hemp is increasingly been grown for the extraction of CBD oils.
CBD is an antagonist compound and although it does not physically bind with the receptors like THC, its only role is to agitate the receptor and block while leaving it inactive, therefore blocking all downstream activity and communication. Scientists have realized that overall CBD limited effects on the CB receptors and possibly explains why CBD does not have the same mind-altering effects as THC.
Benefits of CBD
Although CBD is easily purchased as a nutritional or dietary supplement there is abundant evidence of its medical properties too.
Cannabinoids have been studied for over 50 years when it involves cancer and pain management. CBD is a well known and researched treatment for chronic pain and general pain management. CBD has also been reported to show great promise in the treatment of topical pain and has a unique ability to provide effective pain relief. CBD does this by reducing the hormones and communications of pain sensations throughout the ECS due to it being an antagonist compound.
CBD is being used in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and acne and used for neurological disorders such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.
THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that is popular amongst recreational users of cannabis. For decades cannabis cultivators have bred cannabis for its potency and therefore have increased the volume of THC through genetic selection, breeding and harvesting techniques. Because THC is an agonist compound and binds to cannabinoid receptors, it catalyzes certain biological actions within our ECS, especially throughout our central nervous system.
On a molecular level, it literally binds to receptors found in the ECS like a “lock and key”.
Because THC is an agonist, its activates receptors and stimulates downstream activity throughout the ECS. THC positively activates CB1 receptors which are widely distributed throughout the brain but particularly abundant in the area of the brain responsible for movement, coordination, emotion, memory and sensory perception. This is the most probable reason for the psychoactive effects of THC, which is one of the limiting factors of its research in medical applications.
Benefits of THC
Exciting results of research into the medical benefits of THC are moving forward fast. THC is considered a potential treatment for medical conditions such as muscle spasms, inflammation, arthritis, PTSD, bowel disease amongst others. The psychoactive compound has been used to decrease anxiety, ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, control epilepsy, treat and prevent glaucoma.
“Despite the conventional wisdom… that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits,” study co-author Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico (UNM).
CBD is a well-known inhibitor of the psychoactive effects of THC and this can be seen in the way it interacts with our ECS. Depending on the ratio of CBD and THC that is delivered to the body and the availability of cannabinoid receptors will have a huge impact on the effects.
While CBD and THC have numerous medicinal benefits when used in isolation, there is mounting evidence that when used together there may be an enhanced effect, this is known as the “entourage effect”. This term was coined to describe the interactive synergy between cannabis compounds like CBD and THC.
“In 1998, Professors Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat posited that the endocannabinoid system demonstrated an “entourage effect” in which a variety of “inactive” metabolites and closely related molecules markedly increased the activity of the primary endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (Ben-Shabat et al., 1998)” – 2019 The Case for the Entourage Effect.
You as an individual
Each person is unique simply in their weight, height, and metabolism. We all have different levels of health and wellness and our environments are constantly changing. Our requirements for the administration of cannabinoids like THC and CBD will depend on each individual and their environment.
Because our body naturally produces endocannabinoids like 2-AG and anandamide amongst others it seems silly not to think that our ECS requires a supplementary supply of phytocannabinoids found in cannabis sativa. These receptors located throughout our ECS are activated and agitated when cannabinoids are present. Depending on the bioavailability of your delivery method, for instance, treating a bruised skin with a topical treatment would be far more beneficial than eating an edible. The highest bioavailability to consume cannabis would be vaping it using a vaporizer, meaning vaping cannabis is the most effective and efficient ways. However, even though eating cannabis has low bioavailability levels the benefits include its slow release and long-lasting effects. This is because when you eat an edible it first needs to be digested by the liver before it reaches the bloodstream and this may take up to an hour before you feel any effects.
With all this in mind, one may conclude that the interaction of CBD and THC and our body is a fairly unique experience for each individual. This is why it’s important for further and conclusive research how exactly dosages of different varieties of cannabinoids affect different types of people.
Are you thinking about trying CBD for yourself? If so, consider reading about my personal experience with CBD in my review of Joy Organics by clicking here –> https://encyclopediacbd.com/2019/06/12/joy-organics/
Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877694/
The Case for the Entourage Effect –
Cannabis Product Characteristics and Symptoms Relief –