Written by: Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP
Hemp, CBD, and THC... what's the difference? Can any of them help with anxiety? Depression? Do they make you high? Learn the basics below so that you can decide if any are right for you.
A Trip Down Memory Lane: Hemp, CBD, and THC
Cannabis is thought to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses. These sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils, and textiles. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.
Other varieties of the cannabis plant were identified as psychoactive (causing euphoria or the “high” experience) and were bred selectively for medical, recreational, and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis with slang terms like marijuana (more appropriately called THC cannabis).
While hemp and THC cannabis are both varieties of cannabis sativa, one of the three main subtypes of the cannabis plant, they're different in several ways. THC cannabis can contain up to 30% THC (tetrahydrocannibol), the substance that contributes to euphoria and altered states. Hemp only contains less than 0.3% (per dry weight), which means hemp can’t get you high. However, hemp contains more of another therapeutic oil commonly known as CBD (cannabidiol).
You can find hemp in a variety of products including dietary supplements, skin products, clothing, and accessories. Unlike THC cannabis, hemp is easy to grow. It doesn’t need pesticides to thrive and it can grow in a variety of climates. The seeds are edible and you can even use hemp as an organic construction material. It’s a good renewable resource.
THC cannabis is far more finnicky. High-quality THC cannabis is often specially bred from different strains and requires more care, typically being grown in climate-controlled indoor environments. Rather than selecting for strong fibers like the hemp plants, marijuana strains are optimized over generations to produce THC-containing chemicals on the plant's buds.
CBD vs THC: Which is good for what?
CBD and THC both interact with the body's cannabinoid receptors and they have the same chemical formula, just with the atoms in a different arrangement. This slight difference causes THC to create a psychoactive effect, while CBD does not. So, when you ingest CBD, you will more likely experience relief of your unwanted discomfort, with little or no noticeable effect on your cognitive abilities.
CBD may be helpful for the treatment of:
- Pain (neuropathic, chronic, cancer-related, etc.)
- Multiple Sclerosis(MS)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Substance Abuse/Withdrawal
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
The effects of THC may include:
- Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing
- Decreased nausea
- Pain modulation
- Control of seizure activity
- Reduced aggression
THC works, in part, by mimicking the effects of chemicals in our body called anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters are produced naturally by the human body and help to modulate sleeping and eating habits, the perception of pain, and countless other bodily functions.
So, which is better, CBD or THC?
Researchers are exploring the application of these chemicals to help consumers get out of the weeds (lol, you’ve noticed all the puns above too, right?!). See below for a short summary on which chemical wins.
CBD and THC may be good for different kinds of pain symptoms. CBD may be better for managing inflammation related and neuropathic pain, whereas THC may be better for individuals with muscle spasticity and cramp related pain. When it comes to pain, there may be a combination of THC and CBD that could be ideal with somewhat complementary benefits.
Attention and ADHD
CBD oil may have a role to play in ADHD. It can be helpful for managing mental health related symptoms commonly seen to additionally occur in individuals with ADHD including:
- Deficits in emotional regulation that manifest as mood swings, anger, or agitation.
- Anxiety, including trouble with transitions and social anxiety.
- Trouble with sleep.
- Mood difficulties including rejection sensitivity dysphoria.
For the core symptoms of ADHD such as inattention, impulse control, and hyperactivity, there is no compelling evidence available to suggest that THC or CBD oil is helpful for decreasing or eliminating these symptoms as they are considered to reflect deficits in overall executive functioning. Marijuana may just make these symptoms worse and chronic marijuana use can impair cognitive functions on many levels ranging from basic body control to high level cognitive.
If you’re interested in CBD for ADHD, it may be worth a conversation with your doctor. Typical does range between 15-30 Mg daily, check with your doc for the right amount.
CBD Supplements at Natural Mental Health
- Sleep CBD is a blend of broad-spectrum CBD (30 mg per serving) combined with 5 mg of CBN (cannabinol) and 3 mg of melatonin. CBN is a form of phytocannabinoid shown to be more specifically helpful for sleep, and melatonin is nature’s internal timekeeper, helping set a more consistent bedtime. CBD Sleep may improve a variety of challenging sleep issues, and is especially helpful for those who have trouble falling asleep.
- Calm CBD combines 30 mg of broad-spectrum CBD with 200 mg of l-theanine, an amino acid that can also help reduce anxiety and stabilize mood. Together, they may improve stress resilience and calm anxiety without sedation. Taken at bedtime, CBD Calm may also be helpful for those who tend to wake in the middle of the night.
- Restore CBD gummies are infused with the highest quality, all-natural, US-grown hemp. Each gummy offers a precise dose of broad-spectrum CBD to support your endocannabinoid system with naturally occurring, plant-based ingredients. This synergy of multiple cannabinoids work together for the greatest impact to restore your natural resilience.
Learn more about CBD and Cannabis for ADHD here.>>>