A closeup image of a cannabis plant, for E1011 Labs' page on THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) vs CBD (cannabidiol).

THC vs CBD

E1011 Labs explores the fundamental differences between the two most common cannabinoids - THC and CBD

Have you ever had a conversation with a friend and heard them throw words like CBD and THC around interchangeably? Possibly at first, and maybe until now, you had no idea how different they are from each other despite their very close relationship.

E1011 Labs wants to help you understand what it means to say CBD vs. THC and educate you on the unique properties that make them different from each other.

One of the most essential things to note about CBD vs. THC is their similarity, the fact that both components are present in every hemp plant.

What is CBD?

CBD is a natural compound found in all cannabis plants. Unlike its close counterpart, THC, it is non-intoxicating and will not give you any of the euphoric feelings often described as "being high." According to Wikipedia, Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid discovered in 1940. It is one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants and accounts for up to 40% of the plant's extract.

CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of the most visible components of hemp, which is widely used in industrial capacities to produce a wide range of products. CBD consists of twenty-one carbon atoms, thirty hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. However, it is important to point out that THC equally contains the same amount of chemical components. 

What Makes CBD Special?

CBD is widely discussed for its success in alleviating some health-related issues, while not creating any intoxicating effects. 

According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential….To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."

Because CBD has such vast potential as a therapeutic compound and doesn’t leave users feeling intoxicated, CBD is showing up as the active ingredient in a whole slew of wellness products. However, many of these tinctures, capsules, and edibles are incredibly inefficient. Much of the CBD in these products aren’t actually absorbed into the bloodstream and are essentially wasted. That’s why e1011 labs has designed a new kind of CBD delivery system – the Elon. Despite its smaller, more portable profile, the Elon is capable of delivering a potent punch of CBD when combined with one of our Stems. The best part: unlike other forms of consumable CBD, the Elon is designed to maximize bioavailability so none of those precious cannabinoids are wasted. 

What is THC?

Wikipedia gives some insight into the concept of THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

With chemical name -trans-tetrahydrocannabinol, the term THC also refers to cannabinoid isomers. Like most pharmacologically active secondary metabolites of plants, THC is a lipid found in cannabis, assumed to be involved in the plant's self-defence, putatively against insect predation, ultraviolet light, and environmental stress.

In layman’s terms, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the component in cannabis that gives the feeling of being “high.”

How does THC evoke the feeling of being high?

The THC compound acts by mimicking the effects of anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters are secreted naturally by the body and assist in sleeping modulation and eating habits; the perception of pain, and other essential body functions.

The Difference in Effects of CBD vs. THC

When analyzing marijuana and its effects, the cannabinoid most people focus on is THC. THC rapidly initiates a physiological response when combined with the endocannabinoid system's cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1), located in the brain. 

THC is a psychoactive compound which, combined with CB1 Receptors, which exclusively gives medical marijuana its effect. Activating CB1 receptors with THC results in the user feeling intoxicated by psychoactive effects.

Similar to THC, CBD also initiates a psychological effect in the brain. However, unlike THC, CBD acts as an antagonist for CB1 receptors and does not produce an intoxicating effect in the user. 

THC’s CB1-activating qualities will automatically be suppressed if used in conjunction with CBD, leading to a reduction in its psychoactive effects.

Molecular Differences in CBD vs. THC

Besides the way they make you feel, CBD vs. THC cannabinoids have other significant differences, including their atomic arrangement. Regardless of the disparity in their brain effects, both CBD and THC possess the same molecular structure. 

They are considered structural isomers as they are both made up of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms (C21H30O2) and share a molecular weight of 314.5 g/mol. However, their atoms' arrangement is slightly different, and the ultimate reason for the varying effects they produce. 

The atoms in both THC and CBD compounds are connected in the form of a cyclic ring. This structure is why they are called cyclic compounds.

CBD structure appears to have two cyclic rings; it includes a hydroxyl and alkene group, with an open ring. On the other hand, the THC seems to have three cyclic rings, bolstering a closed ring with an ester group.

The atomic difference in both cannabinoids may seem minute, but it is the sole determinant of their interaction with the endocannabinoid receptors.

The difference in the production of CBD vs. THC

The cannabis plant can be separated into two distinct categories, hemp, and weed. The distinction is that hemp contains under 0.3% THC, and marijuana contains over 0.3% THC.

Therefore, high amounts of THC can be extracted from marijuana. CBD can be obtained from both marijuana and hemp, yet it's usually separated from hemp to limit THC content. At E1011 labs we source a selection of high-quality sun-grown hemp rich in both terpenes and CBD. E1011 labs' Stems are filled with full-spectrum hemp flower, and thus include both cannabinoids to encourage the entourage effect. To find out more about all the different cannabinoids within Stem, take a look at their Certificate of Analysis (COA) which include the third-party certified laboratory results.