Education & Wellness

July 20, 2018

Mighty Molecules

The lowdown on THC & CBD

Cannabis is a plant with endless capabilities, cultivated everywhere for its practical, recreational and spiritual uses.

Who would have thought much of the plant’s power lies within its tiny chemical compounds?

Yes, it all comes down to cannabinoids.

Many of us have heard of cannabinoids before, but may have never visited a cannabis shop, remaining unsure of their true makeup and the experiences they create. Fascinatingly, scientists have discovered more than a hundred cannabinoids in cannabis plants.1 And, every day, they’re discovering new benefits and effects.

Curious about how cannabinoids truly work? First, we’ll explore the body’s endocannabinoid system, and then break down the most well-known compounds: THC and CBD.

The endocannabinoid system

It’s eye-opening to consider: Cannabinoids naturally exist in your body, in the form of endocannabinoids.

A powerful network of regulatory receptors, the endocannabinoid system (ECS)2 orchestrates how endocannabinoids function. Although these tiny molecules are distinct from cannabinoids, both compounds interact with the same pathways, called cannabinoid receptors.

CB1 receptors are located in the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are present all throughout the body. Cannabinoids bond to the receptors in a lock-and-key system, altering cells and producing various effects.

From mood and sleep to appetite and pain, the endocannabinoid system impacts your body’s homeostasis, regulating biological functions for optimal wellness.

Knowing this, we can better understand how cannabis affects us on a fundamental level.

Related Post – Back to Basics: 3 essential tips for cannabis beginners

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Experiencing heady waves of uncontained euphoria, many of us are familiar with the “high” associated with cannabis. It’s all thanks to THC, the chemical compound that stimulates CB1 receptors in your brain.3

Some strains can carry concentrations of up to 30%, packing a powerful, intoxicating sensation. Meanwhile, cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC are considered hemp, the plant used in rope, textile and food products. Then, there’s a whole gamut of THC-dominant strains that fall somewhere within that spectrum.

Related Post – Cannabis Chronicles: A brief history of hemp

THC affects everyone differently, producing a vast range of experiences from person to person. Of course, if you’re a beginner, you should always research your strains and slowly consume a small amount to avoid any adverse effects.

When consuming a THC-dominant strain, you may experience:

  • Elation
  • Altered perceptions
  • Sensory experiences
  • Drowsiness or energy

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Elixirs, soaps, candies and coffee—in the past couple of years, CBD products have become the biggest sensation in cannabis.4 And, it’s easy to see why.

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors, instead signalling them indirectly. So, that’s why you won’t feel “high” when you consume strains with strong concentrations of this compound. In fact, CBD cushions the CB1 receptors in the brain, softening the psychoactive effects of THC.

From preventing seizures and fighting cancer to managing mental illness and calming inflammation, research has shown that CBD has strong potential to promote wellness.5 It’s a smart molecule that promotes balance in the body, targeting pain and dysfunction to regulate cells.

When consuming a CBD-dominant strain, you may experience:

  • Inflammation and pain relief
  • Anxiety and insomnia relief
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Overall wellbeing

 

Small yet powerful, cannabinoids play a vital role in your experience with cannabis.

Whether you’re just wading into the waters or you’ve been around the block a few times, this exciting time of legalization is the perfect opportunity to learn about your THC/CBD preferences. Once our cannabis shops open, be sure to chat with our Fire & Flower staff to get more insights on how cannabinoids work.

Are you a fan of THC-dominant cannabis? Or, is CBD-dominant more your style? Tell us your favourite strain on social. And, keep following the Fire & Flower blog for more education and wellness advice.

 

References

1 High Times, “The Ultimate Guide to Cannabinoids in Cannabis”.

2 Leaf Science, “What Are Cannabinoids?”.

3 Leafly, “What Is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?”.

4 The New Yorker, “Keep Calm and Live in New York City: The Promise of CBD, the Cannabis Chemical That Won’t Get You High”.

5 Healthline, “7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil (Plus Side Effects)”.