11 Jan 2019
How THC and CBD Affect The Body

It seems simple: You hit a vape pen, waited a minute or so, and BAM! You’re feeling the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two of over 60 chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plants, hemp and marijuana. While some may be aware of the health benefits that these natural molecules possess, some might not know how they affect the body and mind. Just how do these cannabinoids interact with and affect us?

The Endocannabinoid System

Studies have proven that THC, CBD and other cannabinoids work hand-in-hand with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is made up of endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids, those made by the body) and cannabinoid receptors. The system is responsible for a number of physiological functions including sleep, appetite and memory, among others.

Endocannabinoid receptors can be found throughout the body. There are two main receptors that cannabinoids target: CB1, found in abundance in the brain and central nervous system; and CB2, often cited in abundance in the immune system.

THC, CBD & The Endocannabinoid System

THC is the only psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp and marijuana, and is thus responsible for the “high” feeling consumers experience. While THC targets both the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, it is the CB1 receptors found in the central nervous system and brain that are responsible for this.

The organic compound has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-anxiety effects. Due to these medicinal benefits, medical marijuana has been legal in certain U.S. states for more than two decades now. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana— with many also legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Unlike THC, cannabidiol (CBD) has no psychoactive properties. Both compounds have been studied for their potential ability to aid in a number of health issues, from managing stress to reducing insomnia to loss of appetite—and many studies have pointed to increased potential health benefits if the two are used together, something scientists have called the “entourage effect.”

One study describes the medical phenomena as follows: “Enhancement of efficacy, with related improvement in overall therapeutic effectiveness, derived from combining phytocannabinoids and other plant-derived molecules.” Basically, scientific data confirms that the positive effects of THC and CBD are enhanced when used together. For example, one might mitigate the negative effect of the other, or promote a positive effect, as well.