What's the Difference Between CBD and THC? Some Doctors Break It Down

There's been a huge surge of interest in the natural healing powers of CBD lately — and for good reason! Doctors are saying it's one of the safest ways to treat illness, disease, and disorders like anxiety. With no known side effects, it seems like a no-brainer to begin your CBD wellness regimen, but there's still some confusion, as much of this is still very new.

Is CBD Pot?

Short answer: no. Marijuana (or pot) is a plant; CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound. Can you find that compound in marijuana? Yes! It's a cannabinoid, and cannabinoids are found in marijuana. It's also found in hemp plants, and you can also get CBD from hops (flowers in a hop plant).

Whether you're already comfortable using cannabis products or you're nervous to try them because of either stigma or legal issues, there's a CBD avenue for you. Because CBD on its own is just a compound that comes from multiple plants, it's not going to affect you the same way consuming or smoking marijuana would. Make sense?

What's the Difference Between CBD and THC?

They're both cannabinoids, but they do different things. THC is psychoactive, meaning it can affect your brain (and it gives the intoxication side effect). CBD is *not* psychoactive, so it doesn't have the intoxication side effect. Both THC and CBD can powerfully (and naturally) treat pain and inflammation and can help with an array of symptoms and diseases, including cancer. They can be used separately or together to treat symptoms — doctors have recommended using the whole plant as CBD and THC have a synergistic effect that is more potent and effective.

"From a biochemical point of view, we have this idea that receptors are the 'lock' and the chemical that interacts with it is like the 'key,'" said Dr. Jordan Tishler, MD. He described the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, where our receptors for THC and CBD exist. "[With THC and CBD] what's really interesting is that, with the lock-and-key mechanism, there's an extra key slot on the side. The CBD ['inserts' into the key slot and] changes the lock behavior when the main key — THC — goes into it. When the CBD attaches, the THC key goes in and is blocked by the CBD." In essence, CBD alters how your body receives the THC. What this means to you: CBD may mitigate anxiety brought on by THC and prevent or inhibit the intoxication (or "high").

Does It Matter What Plant CBD Comes From?

There have been talks about CBD being more potent or effective if it comes from marijuana versus a hemp plant, but that's actually not true, said Dr. Shivani Amin, MD with Green Health Docs in Frederick, MD. "It's like getting vitamin C from orange juice versus getting vitamin C from a grapefruit — it's still vitamin C; CBD is CBD whether it comes from hemp or marijuana." So whether your CBD is from hemp, marijuana, or hops, you'll have the same potent anti-inflammatory, antianxiety effects.

However, where your CBD comes from is important. Dr. Perry Solomon, MD, chief medical officer at HelloMD, stressed the importance of this. The Columbia-trained anesthesiologist has become a leading expert in cannabis therapeutics but warned that because CBD and cannabis are not yet regulated, some companies can take advantage of that. "If it's coming from hemp, you don't know the source of the hemp," as in, where the plant was grown.

"Let's say it's coming from China, which has a lot of hemp production — you have tens of thousands of pounds of CBD coming in, but you don't know what they've used for fertilizer or pesticides, or what's in the soil," Dr. Solomon said. "You then get a tremendous amount of questionable hemp, and the CBD is extracted from this unknown source. It essentially concentrates whatever toxins or pesticides in there into a small amount of liquid."

Dr. Solomon urges anyone taking CBD to know the source of where the CBD is coming from. "There are a lot of legitimate, honest hemp dealers in Colorado, California, Canada," he said, mentioning that Charlotte's Web, Infinite CBD, Green Gorilla, and Sagely Naturals are all trustworthy brands.

Any cannabis products referenced above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The writer is not a medical doctor, and their experience is based on personal use, the results of which may not be typical or intended. The legality of cannabis products varies by state, and readers are encouraged to check their local laws before purchasing and using cannabis products. Nothing in this article should be construed as advice regarding the legal status of cannabis products. Any views expressed in this article by a third-party sponsor are those of such sponsor, and do not necessarily represent the views of POPSUGAR.