CBD (cannabidiol), the potentially therapeutic compound found in hemp plants, often gets a bad rap due to its close relation to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is known as a considerably psychoactive compound that may evoke feelings of euphoria, altered perception of time or heightened sensory experiences when smoking marijuana.
CBD does not produce the same effects as its psychoactive cousin, nor is it considered an addictive substance. Rather, it’s believed to have a positive effect on overall health, with the potential to help support moods, mental health, sleep, appetite and even immunity.
In this guide, we're dispelling misunderstandings and delving into the intricacies of CBD’s impact on the human body.
Hemp vs Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
The distinction between hemp and marijuana plants is solely based on legal definitions. Both “hemp” and “marijuana” refer to Cannabis sativa, a plant whose flowers, leaves and stalks are rich in numerous cannabinoids, such as:
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabigerols (CBG)
- Cannabichromenes (CBC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Cannabicyclol (CBL)
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
- Cannabitriol (CBT)
Each cannabinoid carries distinct characteristics. While THC is known for its psychoactiveeffects, CBN is recognized for its impact on sleep and immune regulation.
So, how are hemp and marijuana differentiated? Hemp refers to any Cannabis sativa plant that contains 0.3% or less THC. Marijuana is any Cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3% THC.
How did this distinction arise? In 2018, when the Farm Bill took effect in the United States. The legislation removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, legalizing the production, manufacture and sale of all hemp products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Any product containing more than that amount is considered non-hemp cannabis, or marijuana, which contains significant amounts of THC.
CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference?
As previously explored, both CBD and THC are cannabinoids that are found within the plant matter of Cannabis sativa crops. However, they have significant differences between CBD vs THC when it comes to their probable impact on the body.
Is CBD addictive? CBD is not shown to be an addictive substance or produce mind-altering effects. Instead, it’s a rather peaceful cannabinoid that may have therapeutic effects. More specifically, it is believed to:
- Ease feelings of panic or restlessness – CBD has shown promise in promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of stress. Research suggests that CBD may interact with serotonin receptors in the brain, which play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotional well-being. As such, CBD may help alleviate symptoms of stress, leading to a calmer state of mind throughout the day.
- Support joint and muscle health – CBD's anti-inflammatory properties have garnered attention for their potential benefits in supporting joint and muscle health. More specifically, CBD's ability to interact with receptors involved in immune responses could contribute to reduced inflammation, thus easing discomfort and promoting better joint and muscle function.
- Regulate immune responses – CBD's potential effect on the immune system involves adjusting immune responses, which in turn helps protect the body from harmful invaders and support general well-being.
- Improve sleep – By reducing restlessness and promoting relaxation, CBD could indirectly contribute to better sleep quality. Some studies suggest that CBD may interact with receptors involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, potentially aiding individuals who struggle with irregular sleep patterns.
- Lower cravings for tobacco and some drugs – This effect can be attributed to CBD's interaction with brain regions associated with dependency and reward. By modulating these pathways, CBD usage might help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, supporting efforts to quit addictive substances.
- Boost appetite – In some cases, CBD has been associated with increased appetite, making it potentially beneficial for individuals with conditions that lead to reduced appetite or unwanted weight loss.
That’s all because CBD plays a very unique role within the body. More specifically, within the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system expands throughout the body; its receptors are found throughout the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain), as well as the connective tissues, glands, immune cells and organs, like the skin and kidneys.
These receptors bind with compounds called endocannabinoids, which are structurally similar to the cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Endocannabinoids, however, are lipid-based neurotransmitters that naturally occur within our bodies and send chemical messages throughout the body. These messages play a critical role in homeostasis and help to regulate:
- Appetite and digestion
- Physical sensations
- Immune responses
- Cognitive functions, such as learning and memory
When CBD oil is ingested or CBD cream is applied topically, the cannabinoids work within the endocannabinoid system in a similar way. Essentially, they can mimic the endocannabinoids to interact with cannabinoid receptors and regulate certain processes.
For example, CBD may bind to the CB1 receptor, which are found in the central nervous system, to improve your mood. Or, it may interact with CB2 receptors in immune tissue to reduce swelling around joints.
That said, CBD has a weaker tendency (low affinity) to bind to the cannabinoid receptors, compared to THC, which may point to its low addictive potential. While different types of CBDs can also increase dopamine levels in the brain, it does not produce high levels in the long term, further reinforcing the very low chance of CBD addiciton.
CBD Side Effects
While the effects of CBD are generally mild, some people can react adversely to the cannabinoid. Side effects of using CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
- Irritability and agitation
In more serious cases, liver injury can occur in prescription doses of the CBD product. That said, this is unlikely to occur when taking CBD supplements.
THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa plant that also interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. However, it can also have a significant impact on the brain’s dopamine levels — an indicator of its addictive properties.
But let’s rewind: THC’s primary partner within the endocannabinoid system is the CB1 receptor. This receptor is bountiful in the brain, outnumbering many other types of neurotransmitter receptors, and THC has a very high tendency of binding to these receptors, which can increase the likelihood of disordered cannabis use.
That said, the effects of THC are most often observed when THC levels are associated with “intoxication,” or the feeling of being “high,” coupled with feelings of relaxation and pleasure. People who enjoy these effects are at a higher risk of developing a cannabis use disorder, which involves repeated use and dependency.
However, THC can also have the opposite effect on some people, making them feel restless, nervous or paranoid. Those who experience negative feelings when consuming THC are less likely to develop a dependency.
That said, using THC daily can negatively impact the endocannabinoid system, reducing the number of CB1 receptors in the brain. As a result, the brain becomes less sensitive to THC over time. When THC use decreases, the CB1 receptor repopulates within the central nervous system.
Marijuna Use Disorder
Overusing marijuana can cause dysfunction in one’s life. The signs include:
- Trying and failing to quit marijuana
- Using more marijuana than intended
- Using marijuana a lot, despite problems in school and professional/personal life
- Craving marijuana
- Replacing social activities with marijuana use
- Needing more marijuana to feel its effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms during attempts to quit
Heavy, long-term marijuana use may also cause the body to produce increased dopamine over time, which can activate the body’s reward system.
Essentially, the continuous flood of dopamine caused by THC can result in the brain becoming less responsive to dopamine signals, requiring higher amounts of the substance to achieve the same level of pleasure or reward. This desensitization can contribute to the development of tolerance, where individuals need to consume larger quantities of marijuana to experience the desired effects.
Unfortunately, the risk of developing a marijuana use disorder is higher in people who start using marijuana at a young age as well as those who use marijuana frequently.
Marijuana Side Effects
Even those who are not dependent on marijuana can experience side effects, which include:
- Stomach discomfort and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Increased heart rate
- Increased appetite
- Impaired attention, coordination or judgment
- Feelings of sadness
- Paranoia or nervousness
Additionally, it’s advised to avoid pairing marijuana with alcohol, prescription medication, supplements, central nervous system depressants, antiviral drugs or serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Zebra CBD: The Safe Choice
It’s crucial to underscore that CBD online products is not an addictive nor mind-altering substance, since it has a low affinity to cannabinoid receptors within the body, thus producing only mild effects. That said, its cannabinoid cousin, THC, does have the potential for disordered use. That’s because THC does have a high frequency of binding to cannabinoid receptors, particularly within the brain where the brain’s “reward system” is located.
Because THC can produce significant euphoric and pleasurable effects, there’s a chance that marijuana users will continue to seek out the gratifying drug-induced experience. As a result, dependency or frequent use can occur as a result of elevated dopamine levels and lowered tolerance.
All that said, CBD can be a safe option, especially when it comes from a reputable source like Zebra CBD. Our CBD productslike our hemp pills, CBD gummies for sale, and CBD topical products are crafted with premium hemp extract and tested by independent, certified third-party labs to ensure our products meet the claims on our labels.
Each one of our batches is tested for the presence of heavy metals, microbials, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides andTHC, so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
After all, we’re the only CBD company with a Label Accuracy Guarantee.™
- Healthline. Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference? https://www.healthline.com/health/hemp-vs-marijuana#takeaway
- Harvard Health Publishing. Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don't. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
- Medical News Today. What to know about endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/endocannabinoid
- The American Journal of Psychiatry. Cannabis Use and the Endocannabinoid System: A Clinical Perspective. https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.21111138
- ARK. Marijuana And Dopamine Levels In The Brain. https://www.arkbh.com/illicit-drugs/marijuana/dopamine-levels/
- CDC. Addiction (Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder). https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/addiction.html
- Mayo Clinic. Marijuana. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-marijuana/art-20364974
- WedMD. Cannabidiol (Cbd) - Uses, Side Effects, and More. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1439/cannabidiol-cbd