The ABCs of THC and CBD
Different cannabis products affect your body in different ways, depending on how much THC and/or CBD they contain. Let’s take a look at the key differences between the two, to help you decide which products are right for you.
Cannabis and the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
Yep, we’re getting science-y right off the top.
So what are cannabinoids? Scientifically-speaking, they’re a diverse class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in both the human body and cannabis plants.
Your body has something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate a variety of different functions—including learning and memory processes, sleep, stress, and other emotional states, as well as pain responses.
Because THC and CBD are very similar to your body’s existing cannabinoids, they are able to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
THC interacts with the body’s CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the brain, but also in the peripheral nervous system, liver, thyroid, uterus, and more. CBD interacts with the body’s CB2 receptors, which are found in the immune and gastrointestinal systems, as well as the brain and nervous system.
It’s these interactions (between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors) that produce the effects you experience when you consume cannabis.
The buzz on THC
THC is also responsible for cannabis’ intoxicating effect (or high) and can affect your cognitive abilities depending how much you consume. Looking for a strain that’s high in THC? Try Aurora Chocolope.
The lowdown on CBD
Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not produce the same high that THC provides.
Although CBD isn’t as well-known as THC, it’s quickly gaining ground thanks to its potential therapeutic benefits—having been shown to help reduce pain, inflammation and anxiety.
We still have a lot to learn about CBD, which is why many cannabis researchers are actively studying its effects. Aurora Cannabis recently partnered up with UFC to study the use of hemp-derived CBD as a treatment for pain, inflammation, wound-healing and recovery in MMA athletes.
Interested in CBD? Try Aurora Temple.
There’s a scientific theory called the entourage effect, which proposes that there are synergistic effects between the different cannabinoids and terpenes found inside cannabis. Secreted in the same glands that produce THC and CBD, terpenes are aromatic oils that give different cannabis varieties their distinctive flavours.
The entourage effect suggests that when you consume THC or CBD on their own, the effects may be different than when you consume them alongside other cannabinoids and terpenes.
There’s no hard science yet though, so stay tuned for more research.
How to find the product that’s right for you
Before you consume a cannabis product, first find out how much THC and/or CBD it contains. The THC:CBD ratio lets you know if that product will help you achieve the experience you’re looking for.
If you’re new to cannabis, we recommend starting with a product that’s higher in CBD than THC. As Health Canada says, ‘start low and go slow’.
Consider keeping a journal as you try different products. You can use it to make note of each product’s THC and CBD content, along with the profile of each product’s THC and CBD content, and the flavour profile.
Different methods have different effects
It’s important to consider the differences between consumption methods as well. With inhaled products such as dried flower, the effects usually start within minutes and can last up to 6 hours or longer.
Oils, capsules and edibles usually take between 30 minutes and 2 hours to take effect—and those effects can last up to 12 hours or longer.
Dried flower and prerolls
With dried flower and prerolls, THC and CBD are measured as a percentage of the product’s weight, using milligrams (mg) per gram (g). So if the label says 146 mg of THC per gram, that means the product has a THC potency of 14.6%.
Since different harvests and plants yield different amounts of THC, labels usually provide a range indicating how much THC is inside (eg. 14.6% to 16.6% THC).
Oils and capsules
With cannabis oils and capsules, THC and CBD content is measured by volume—indicated as milligrams (mg) per millilitre (mL).
Some products will show the THC and CBD content as a ratio. If the label indicates a ratio of 3:3, that product has a balanced THC:CBD profile, containing 3mg of THC and 3 mg of CBD per milliletre.