by Jacquelyn Nause
There are 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, the most well-known being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids supplement the endocannabinoids that our body creates, which interact with our endocannabinoid system. While we don’t yet fully understand all of the endocannabinoid system’s functionality, what we do know is that it helps regulate appetite, pain, mood and energy. So how do we know what cannabinoids to use and when? Let’s take a look.
The Endocannabinoid System
There are two types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system: CB1 receptors, which are most prominent in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, which are located in the peripheral nervous system and have a greater impact on inflammation and perception of pain. THC is an agonist for CB1 receptors, and because these receptors are directly tied into the brain, this triggers the euphoric “high” feeling many people experience. Activation of the CB2 receptors does not induce the same psychotropic effects as activation of CB1, opening up therapeutic opportunities for those who want to avoid the “high” associated with consuming cannabis products.
The Entourage Effect
CBD seems to bind to neither CB1 receptors nor CB2 receptors, but rather changes other receptors’ ability to bind to cannabinoids and enhances the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids. CBD both tempers the psychoactive effects of THC, reducing paranoia and anxiety, and provides an “entourage effect” — or enhances the therapeutic effects of THC and other cannabinoids. CBD also seems to have different effects during different parts of the day and for different people, so experimentation is the name of the game to find the dosage and timing that works for you.
It is because of this synergistic entourage effect between cannabinoids that whole plant medicine is becoming more preferable. Because the cannabinoids act differently in combination than when isolated, using a whole plant product as opposed to an isolate means you get the synergistic effects of them all, with THC bumping up the therapeutic effectiveness of CBD and vice versa.
What’s Right for You: CBD vs. THC
To find the product that is right for you, consider your tolerance, method of consumption and desired outcome. For relief without any psychoactive effects, a high CBD product is best. Don’t rule out the therapeutic properties of THC, though. THC is very powerful in reducing stress, but with a powerful effect comes powerful side effects — namely psychoactive effects. Topical THC products, however, do not cause psychoactive effects. If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of cannabis without the accompanying “high,” try THCa — the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw cannabis and live cannabis plants.
There is a wide range of THC:CBD ratios, so a little trial and error of different combinations can help get you to where you want to be. A ratio of 1:1 THC to CBD will be more psychotropic than a 30:1 CBD to THC ratio, but a bit of THC in a high-CBD product makes all the difference in the outcome you will experience. On the flip side, a high-THC-low-CBD ratio will help give you the therapeutic and mind-altering effects of THC, but the CBD will help to keep you more clear-headed and help lessen forgetfulness and heightened anxiety that is sometimes associated with THC.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in cannabis, real estate and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.
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