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Is THC Bad and CBD Good? Understanding the key cannabinoids in medicinal cannabis

by | May 9, 2022

THC and CBD are considered the “big two” cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

They are the most well-known, most studied, and most marketed cannabinoids.

But if you’re researching the risks and benefits of medicinal cannabis, you may be under the impression that THC is bad and CBD is good.

After all, THC is the cannabinoid that’s mostly responsible for the “high” and “stoned” feelings that cannabis is known for.

And it’s also been associated with adverse effects related to these psychoactive properties.

Whereas, CBD is seen as a more safe, well-tolerated option that doesn’t interfere with everyday life.

However, is it as simple as THC is bad and CBD is good?

The short answer is: Definitely not.

Both THC and CBD can have many wonderful benefits. But like everything in life, they’re not good for everyone all the time.

In this article, we’re going to explore both THC and CBD in more detail to understand why they are both good (and bad) in their own unique ways.


What are THC and CBD? A quick overview


THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabadiol) are cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

There are more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, which are named for the unique ability to interact with the human body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Read more: What is the Endocannabinoid System?

THC is the main psychoactive constituent in cannabis while CBD doesn’t have intoxicating effects of its own.

Both cannabinoids have unique benefits, which is why they are commonly used in medicinal cannabis. However, each product will have a unique amount, ratio or blend of cannabinoids.

You can learn about CBD:THC ratios here.


The case for THC: Why it isn’t “bad”


If you’ve been looking into using medicinal cannabis, you might have been led to believe that THC should be avoided.

In high doses, it can make you feel high, stoned, drowsy, and in rare cases, paranoid and dissociative.

The effects of THC, in particular, are what has made cannabis such a popular recreational drug.

But that doesn’t mean that THC is bad. Far from it. THC is an important cannabinoid that has many medicinal uses.


The medicinal uses of THC

THC has been found to interact with both cannabinoid receptors in the human body (CB1 and CB2 receptors).

This means that THC can support a wide range of functions in the brain and body, such as regulating the release of neurotransmitters or “feel good” hormones.

Doctors commonly prescribe THC-based medicinal cannabis to help with pain management, sleep, appetite stimulation, reducing nausea and other health conditions.

These effects can be life-changing for some people, such as patients undergoing cancer treatment or those suffering from chronic pain.

THC is not suitable for everyone and the potential side effects can impose on everyday responsibilities, such as work and driving.

It’s essential that you talk with your doctor to get the right dosage and treatment plan for your condition. It’s always recommended to start with a low dose and slowly increase it if necessary.

The potential adverse effects of THC may be of concern for some people, which is understandable.

But it might help to remember that common painkillers can also make you feel drowsy and antidepressants can cause headaches, nausea and all sorts of undesirable effects.

When managed correctly, THC can be safe and effective and it can help in ways that CBD can’t.


How is CBD different?


CBD has fast become a darling of the wellness world, and rightfully so.

It has many potential benefits in the health space without the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD is considered to be well-tolerated by most people and doesn’t interfere with everyday responsibilities, which are major reasons why it’s so popular.

Scientists don’t know exactly how CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System, but they do know it doesn’t bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors the way THC does.

It’s possible that CBD prevents endocannabinoids (internal cannabinoids) from breaking down so they can perform their functions in the body.

Doctors commonly prescribe CBD for a wide range of health conditions, including epilepsy and seizures, anxiety, pain and inflammation.

However, just because CBD is seen as safe and well-tolerated doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone or every health condition.

CBD has side effects of its own, which can include drowsiness and fatigue. And it doesn’t have the same medical applications as THC.

A doctor will be able to advise you as to whether or not CBD is suitable for your health condition.


What about CBD:THC blends?


Another reason why it’s not as simple as “THC bad, CBD good” is that the cannabinoids are often used together.

Scientists believe they may even be more effective when used in tandem, based on a theory known as the Entourage Effect.

Learn more: What is the cannabis Entourage Effect?

CBD has also been found to balance out the adverse effects of THC, making them less severe.

So in reality, THC and CBD are complementary. There’s no good and bad, just different.

They have unique effects in the mind and body and you may find you need a bit of both to achieve the health outcomes you’re looking for.

Just make sure you consult a doctor before using any medicinal cannabis product as they will be able to steer you in the right direction.

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