CBD vs THC vs Cannabis: What's the difference between them?
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 6, 2020.
There is still a lot of confusion over what exactly is CBD, with many people thinking cannabis, hemp, marijuana, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the same thing. They are not.
Cannabis is a plant, and there are two main types: Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. While marijuana can be derived from both types, hemp is only derived from the Cannabis Sativa family.
This means that even though hemp and marijuana have a few things in common, there are notable differences, with the most crucial being that hemp is almost devoid of THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that gives you a high. In fact, by law, hemp must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC to be considered hemp, otherwise, growers are at risk of prosecution under federal law.
The main active ingredient in hemp is CBD, and CBD does not have any psychoactive properties. Instead, CBD has been credited with relieving anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and pain, although “credited” does not mean proven. Because of the historical regulatory landscape, there are hardly any well-conducted trials backing up those claims, although research is expected to ramp up now that laws distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
Nowadays, CBD seems to be included in everything from protein powders to pain-relieving patches to products for period pain. But check those labels. Because CBD is quite a bitter substance, a lot of products contain large amounts of added sugar. In addition, many of the claims made about the benefits of CBD are dubious. At the end of the day all you may be getting is an expensive, high-sugar supplement that does very little.
There is a prescription CBD oil that is considered an effective anti-seizure medication, called Epidiolex. Epidiolex was first approved by the FDA in June 2018 for two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, and approved in July 2020 to treat seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). However, further research is needed to determine if CBD is safe and effective for other medical conditions. Currently other trials are underway investigating its benefits for Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and anxiety.
In addition to the medicinal uses of CBD, hemp is also a great resource for making 100% biodegradable, environmentally friendly products such as biofuel, building materials, clothing, and paper.
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