Do you know which of these cannabinoids is better for helping with your anxiety symptoms?
Cannabis is a herb that is made from either the cannabis sativa plant, which consists mostly of THC, and the cannabis indica plant, which mainly comprises CBD. Cannabis, though it contains over eighty-five kinds of cannabinoids or chemical compounds, It has two main ones which are the most common in every cannabis plant and product there is.
Cannabinoids and Their Potential Uses
In every cannabis product, you’ll find its composition mainly consist of either cannabidiol (CBD) or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or a mixture of both, and that these are always more present than other cannabinoids. With the legalization of cannabis use under Canada’s federal law, the interest regarding the use of both CBD and THC as a potential treatment of anxiety and other mental health related issues, such as a panic disorder, has skyrocketed. A lot of this interest has centered around mainly the two aforementioned compounds, CBD and THC, as compared to the other cannabinoids.
This interest will only grow as further investigation and clinical trials take place, and as we get more and more conclusive evidence in regards to medical marijuana being an effective treatment for psychiatric disorders.
Medical Cannabis for Social Anxiety Disorder
There are already a number of products that have appeared on the market, which contain either one, or both CBD and THC at various concentrations. A lot of these products are used for medical purposes to help with medical conditions relating to mental health, such as alleviating social anxiety symptoms.
A Reminder to People Living in the U.S.
Unlike Canada, where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use, the U.S. hasn’t had cannabis completely legalized. Under the controlled substances act, marijuana and its constituent ‘THC’ are both considered, by the Food and Drug Administration, to be a controlled substance.
Medical Cannabis for Anxiety Disorders
However, despite the federal law, thirty-three states have enacted laws to allow the use of medical marijuana products to be prescribed by doctors to help with anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders.
What are CBD and THC?
Before we begin to understand some of the side effects and probable benefits that cannabis products have, we must first learn of their constituents and what it is they do.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is number two on the list of most common chemical compounds found within cannabis. It was initially found during the 40s, but only recently has it gained a bit of notoriety as a medical treatment for many conditions. CBD can be derived from either hemp or marijuana and each of them has varying amounts of THC within their products.
Hemp-derived CBD products usually only contain slight traces of THC, while marijuana-derived CBD products often tend to contain a bit more.
What is THC?
THC, less commonly referred to as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient found within cannabis that gives it its psychoactive effects. The effects of THC are induced by it activating the brain’s satisfaction procedures, which discharges dopamine within the brain.
The dopamine that releases upon ingesting THC, is a neurotransmitter that takes care of a critical role in deciding our mood and happiness. The effects of THC lead to a higher level of dopamine being released in our brain than what is considered normal. As a result of the higher release of dopamine, a THC user would experience feelings such as euphoria.
THC is often ingested by way of smoking marijuana, however, it is also widely available in other forms such as capsules, edibles, and oils.
Differences Between THC and CBD
Both of the compounds interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, however, the effects each cannabinoid has on our body’s endocannabinoid system is slightly different.
The endocannabinoid system within our bodies takes care of the critical role of retaining homeostasis. Though a more guided systematic review is being carried out, due to our lack of complete understanding of the complex system, current research suggests that it plays an important role in the bodily functions of appetite, fertility, mood, sleep, and immune system.
The fundamental distinction between the two cannabinoids is that THC provides the user with a high due to it being psychoactive, all the while CBD doesn’t do anything like that. In products with a higher concentration of CBD than THC, the CBD takes hold of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and helps prevent the user from dealing with the intoxicating effects of the THC.
Both THC and CBD have a similar structure, not only to each other but also to the natural endocannabinoids that act as neurotransmitters in our brain. These neurotransmitters are essentially messengers which carry a signal to and from all the various nerve cells found within our body. They play a major role in our mood, which is often why when a systematic review of cannabis use comes out, its evidence suggests that cannabis use can be used for treating anxiety and also as a treatment for anxiety disorders, for example, posttraumatic stress disorder.
Though the molecular structure of THC and CBD is nearly identical, there are a few differences in the way the molecules are arranged in the two cannabinoids which are responsible for the difference in the effects both of them have. They mimic the way our natural endocannabinoids bind to our receptors, and as a result, cause the different effects both of them induce in our bodies, such as ‘symptom relief’ as they can treat anxiety symptoms.
Benefits of Both the Cannabinoids
While the benefits of cannabis use are still being researched every day, there is extensive research suggesting that certain cannabinoids help treat anxiety which can be found in the J Pharmacol. J Pharmacol is a pharmacology journal that contains some peer-reviewed studies, and one of those studies which proved the use of certain cannabinoids to help reduce anxiety was titled, “Pharmacological Characterization of Cannabinoids in the Elevated Plus Maze”.
Before we get into what each THC and CBD treats on their own, let’s take a look at what they both have been found to treat.
What Both THC and CBD can Treat
Both cannabinoids have been found to help with certain medical conditions.
The first medical condition they have been proven useful against is epilepsy. They are both also useful in treating glaucoma, movement disorders relating to chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and sleep disorders.
They can also help with certain problems relating to the bowel like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
They can help reduce the symptoms of HIV and AIDS, as well as, stop the abuse of opioid drugs and help in decreasing your dependence on opioids.
Lastly, they both have been shown to have anxiety-reducing properties, though there is some variation between them when it comes to working out the dosage needed for them to work as a treatment for anxiety disorders. This will be further explained when discussing their individual benefits.
What CBD can Treat
While both of the cannabinoids may share a lot of helpful benefits, they are some which each cannabinoid specializes in. CBD is known to help with mental health and many other issues relating to mental disorders.
To start off, CBD can treat inflammation and migraines. It can help deal with depression and treat anxiety symptoms. A certain anxiety disorder CBD is known for treating is post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you’ve suffered from a panic attack, or are regularly dealing with panic attacks, CBD can help treat those, too, with little to no adverse effects.
Treating anxiety disorders with CBD doesn’t require any particular dosage. CBD can be consumed in low doses to help mild anxiety or it can be taken in high doses to help with some more severe cases of anxiety.
Lastly, CBD is also known to help with seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, once again with close to no adverse effects to deal with.
What THC can Treat
Like CBD, THC has its own specialty when it comes to being used as a form of medication. It can also be administered as medical cannabis and mainly below to treat chronic pain.
To begin with, THC is an excellent treatment for glaucoma and insomnia. It can help people who have a poor appetite, particularly because of some cancer they might have. It can also help reduce tremors.
It’s mainly used to help people who deal with chronic pain. It is an extraordinary treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis or even those suffering from migraine headaches that don’t seem to go away.
Synthetic THC can even help people who are undergoing nausea and are having to constantly vomit due to the use of their cancer medication, which they, unfortunately, can’t stop taking.
Due to its anxiolytic effects, it can also be utilized in the therapy of anxiety conditions. However, unlike CBD which could be consumed in low or high doses for treating one’s anxiety, THC can only be used in low doses. An acute administration of THC can do a lot to reduce one’s anxiety and won’t have the user deal with any of the negative effects of a higher dosage. Patients who took a low dosage of THC, or medical cannabis which contained THC, had shown changes in blood flow to the area of the brain which is linked to the emotional processing of anxiety.
A Friendly Reminder
If you are having issues with some sort of cognitive impairment or are experiencing anxiety that is hindering your ability to live out your daily life, do not begin treating it directly with medical cannabis usage. Instead, visit a medical professional who specializes in cognitive behavioural therapy. This therapy is still regarded as the best form of treatment of anxiety disorders available. However, If you prefer the use of medical cannabis as compared to typical medication and therapy, you can question your therapist or doctor to prescribe you an anxiolytic cannabis chemotype rather than the usual prescription medication they would have.
Possible Side Effects of Cannabis Use
Most research has found the use of cannabis and medical cannabis to be completely safe. However, there are a few side effects that have been reported, though luckily, they appear to be very mild and not deadly in the slightest.
CBD is especially known to be completely safe even at its highest doses. The only side effects people have known to have gotten from CBD we’re due to the CBD reacting with another drug the user had ingested, and not from the CBD on its own.
Some of the mild side effects that have been reported from using cannabis are changing one’s mood and appetite, as well as experiencing drowsiness. The final two mild symptoms of using cannabis are nausea and dizziness.
However, despite all these simple side effects, THC comes with a few additional side effects, which aren’t exactly lethal or serious but are certainly worth a mention. THC users who take in high doses of the cannabinoid should keep in mind that it does increase anxiety for some people.
The final few unfortunate side effects of using cannabis which contains THC are that it may lead to an increased heart rate, a mouth that feels dry, and even memory loss.
How to Ingest Both THC and CBD
There are many ways you can go about consuming THC or CBD. The most common way to consume either cannabinoid is by way of smoking it, though there are quite a few more to go about it.
Some of those methods include consuming the concentrates made from its oil, sprays, tinctures, using products related to vaping. Some more fun ways to ingest cannabis are by consuming it in the form of its edible. These edibles are candies or sweets which are infused with either THC or CBD, and they make for a tasty way of getting the cannabinoids inside your system. Some common examples of edibles include gummies or chocolate. If you are familiar with cannabis use you probably also know that it can be consumed in the form of a beverage that contains cannabis oil.
Lotions and Salves
There is also one more way of getting the benefits of cannabis use, though this does not require you to consume any cannabis or its chemical constituents. The cannabinoids can be added to lotion or salves, and then, be directly applied to the skin. It is important to keep in mind when using the lotion, the effects of the cannabinoid will only be localized since you would not actually be consuming any of the cannabis.
Which Cannabinoid Should You Take, CBD or THC?
The cannabinoid you choose to begin taking completely depends on the desired effects, which you hope to achieve. An example of this might be a person wanting to consume CBD due to its ability to provide all the benefits that cannabis has to offer with little to no serious downsides. On the other hand, a person could pick THC if they are looking for some psychoactive effects or if they are looking to get some of the health benefits which THC exceeds at delivering, such as reducing chronic pain or helping a poor appetite.
There is a fair share of evidence stating that the cannabinoids, THC and CBD, prove to be a lot more beneficial in providing their therapeutic effects when they are consumed with each other. There is much evidence to support this claim that the phenomenon has been bestowed with its very own term, “The Entourage Effect”.
Consuming THC along with CBD at the same time has been shown to help reduce, or sometimes even completely alleviate, the negative effects that ingesting THC on its own might have. For example, there was a study that found that CBD could potentially reduce a lot of the unfavourable cognitive effects which resulted from consistent cannabis use. An example of this is that there have been a few studies that found that regular cannabis users, especially those users who routinely consumed cannabis with high levels of THC, had a greater risk of developing some form of psychiatric illness such as paranoia or psychosis, compared to those who did not consume cannabis regularly or to those that had high levels of CBD. However, as the aforementioned study suggested, the bad effects that come with consuming high levels of THC can be mitigated by consuming some CBD.
There was, in fact, a study that found that the psychiatric illnesses associated with high THC use were successfully blocked by CBD. The people who had conducted the study had stated that such findings play a very important role in discovering the implications for using a certain cannabis product. An example they shared is that people who are more likely to suffer from side effects of certain cannabis products can still receive the benefits of the product by making sure they stick to the products which are low in THC content and high in CBD content.
It is also important to keep in mind that both THC and CBD take effect in different parts of the brain and that scientists have not, as of yet, fully discerned the impacts these cannabinoids have on us, whether they are consumed alone or with another cannabinoid.
Are CBD and THC Detectable in a Drug Test?
Due to the fact that THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, anyone who had any form of cannabis use over a certain period of time can be exposed, since THC is detectable on most standard drug tests that are used today. CBD, too, is discoverable by a lot of drug tests, though most of the commonly used drug tests are not designed to find cannabidiol.
Despite most tests being unable to detect CBD, most CBD products always contain some trace amounts of THC, and though the amount of THC may be small, it is still detectable if you consume a large amount of CBD products. It could also be detected if the amount of THC written on the packaging label of a product is less than what is actually in the product.
A few studies have found out that around 70% of the packaging labels on CBD products understate the amount of THC content in the product, that too by a significant amount. Due to a lack of regulation on cannabis products, it proves to be quite difficult to determine exactly what amount of THC or CBD content you are truly getting when you ingest a product.
Since both THC and CBD are stored in body fat, they both can be detected by a drug test for quite a bit of time after you have stopped consuming them.
Before You Intake THC or CBD
Before you can go ahead and start taking your desired doses of THC and CBD you have to keep in mind that they can, and will, affect some health conditions you might have, as well as, react with other medications you might be taking. Thus, before going about and consuming your desired cannabinoid you should take caution and do some research on whether it’s right for you and your circumstances. These cannabinoids can react with other medications and influence how those medicines metabolize within a person’s body. In some cases, they might increase your levels of anxiety.
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