We all know that CBD is growing in popularity for its medicinal properties. The question many of us want to answer is what is the difference between CBD from hemp and cannabis?
The difference between CBD from hemp and cannabis is the amount of the cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol THC, in the plant. Both plants are in the cannabis sativa family. However, cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC are considered hemp. Cannabis above the 0.3% THC level is more commonly known as marijuana.
Unfortunately, since the prohibition of cannabis in 1937, hemp and its non-euphoric medicinal properties were lost to society. People blurred the differences between hemp and cannabis.
They were clumped together as one. Everyone just assumed hemp, with its low THC levels, was the same as cannabis, with its higher THC. People began to believe hemp had the same effect of getting “high” like cannabis and it became taboo.
We want to make sure you understand the difference between CBD from hemp and cannabis.
What is a Cannabinoid?
The first thing we need to do is clarify some definitions. Once you read through a few of our articles on cannabis, hemp, and CBD, you will become familiar with certain terms. They are common in the medicinal CBD and cannabis environments.
Once you understand them, they will roll of your tongue as if you were a scientist! 😉
So, let us start by defining cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a compound found within the cannabis plant. The most prolific cannabinoid in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The second is cannabidiol (CBD). There are over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis exhibiting different effects, mentally and physically.
Cannabinoids act with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ESC) to help regulate overall bodily function.
There is a long word for you! I think we should discuss the ESC a little further.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS helps to modulate our central nervous system’s functions. It attempts to maintain an equilibrium in which our body’s organs function optimally.
This is called homeostasis. When our organs run at optimum levels, they help to maintain physiological, cognitive, and emotional balance.
Makes a lot of sense. Right? You see examples of homeostasis in just about every environment. If things are balanced, they run at most favorable levels. The same is true for our bodies.
The endocannabinoid system is in your brain. Controlling receptors divide the workload between controlling bodily and brain functions. Receptors that control the body are commonly known as CB-2 while receptors controlling the brain are CB-1.
Studies have shown that CBD extracted from hemp and cannabis, along with other cannabinoids found in the plant, directly affect the receptors within the ESC. This helps our system perform at top levels and brings us closer to achieving homeostasis.
Lately, CBD’s resurgence in the medicinal arena has improved methods of cannabinoid extraction from hemp and cannabis allowing for versatility in medicinal applications. Common items available on the market include oils, edibles, and creams.
What Cannabinoids are in Hemp and Cannabis?
We know what cannabinoids are and have a basic understanding of how they help the endocannabinoid system. Now we should know what cannabinoids are found in hemp and cannabis plants.
Remember, the only difference between hemp and cannabis is the THC content. Hemp contains less than 0.3% THC and cannabis (marijuana) contains more than 0.3% THC.
There are over 100 cannabinoids within the hemp and cannabis plants.
We will leave the full, technical list to the medical journals. Although, if you love the technical aspects, we highly recommend you do further study into the subject.
But, for this blog, we will just touch on the big hitters. These are the most studied and used cannabinoids most of us will encounter. By no means is this a complete list.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – Major Cannabinoid
We will start with our national troublemaker. The “Bad Boy” of the bunch should get our first attention. This one took troublemaking to a national scale.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most common cannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis.
When found in concentrations of 0.3% or more, THC can produce the euphoric “high” when smoking or ingesting what we commonly call marijuana.
While many people prefer to avoid this feeling, higher concentrations of THC have shown beneficial effects when treating medical conditions.
- THC’s analgesic effects have proven effective in pain relief.
- Glaucoma patients experience reduced eye pressure.
- Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy that experience appetite loss benefit from “the munchies” associated with THC.
Unfortunately, cannabis with more than 0.3% THC is still federally illegal in the United States. This makes research into its medicinal effects difficult.
While some states are paving the way by legalizing all concentrations of THC for medical and recreational use, others still follow the rule of federal laws.
Hopefully, the government will see to allow more research to happen into the essential medicinal properties of THC. Until then, there are still many other medicinal cannabinoids we can discover.
Cannabidiol (CBD) – Major Cannabinoid
Thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes, and the subsequent Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which defined Hemp as cannabis sativa containing less than 0.3% THC, we can learn a whole lot more about CBD and its medicinal uses.
Behind THC, CBD represents the second highest concentration of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
The main thing you need to know about CBD is that it does not cause the euphoric “high” caused by using THC. It also works better when combined with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
CBD many have too little THC to effectively get you “high”, but it does provide a host of natural and effective health benefits.
Researchers are discovering amazing benefits in using CBD for treatment of schizophrenia, epilepsy, and some types of cancer. CBD is also showing great promise in treating chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.
CBD is currently undergoing studies as an opiate replacement.
With its powerful pain management properties, medical professionals have hope that CBD can help alleviate the opioid addiction problem that plagues the United States today.
With the blessing of the government in 2018 and the discovery of CBD’s strong medicinal properties, development, and distribution soared. It is estimated that CBD sales will soar past the $20 million a year within just a few years.
Cannabichromene (CBC) – Minor Cannabinoid
The presence of CBC in the medicinal arena seems underrated and needs more study. Researchers are only just starting to understand its medical benefits.
Past studies show that CBC can block pain reception in lab mice. It also shows signs of being a strong anti-inflammatory.
Before I continue, I will address the elephant that just entered the room. Yes, all these tests are done on mice before they do human experimentation.
There are several reasons researchers use mice for experimenting with new medicine for humans. Mice and rats have genetic, biological and behavior characteristics closely resemble those of humans.
For this reason, researchers can replicate human symptoms in the animals and test new medicinal products for efficacy.
There are those that do not believe in these methods, but that is not my discussion here. We are discussing scientific findings on the medicinal aspects of CBD and cannabinoids.
There are studies that are currently in progress on CBC. Variations of these experiments are trying to determine its effectiveness in treating acne, improving mental health, and helping repair brain damage.
It is exciting to see what medicinal discoveries researchers will make while studying CBC. We will let you know as more helpful benefits are discovered.
Cannabinol (CBN) – Minor Cannabinoid
Cannabinol is starting to earn some time in the research labs. Little is known about CBN since it is a by product of THC.
In other words, CBN appears when THC degenerates. This is a process of oxygenation. THC decomposes when a cannabis plant is exposed to oxygen for long periods of time—an older plant.
You can see why CBN got lost in the medicinal cannabinoid shuffle. Older cannabis plants have less demand.
Since many growers were cultivating cannabis for their freshly matured flowers, not much value was given to cannabinoids that developed in older plants.
As more studies start focusing on these older plants and the cannabinoids created after oxygenation, this practice may change.
Currently, researchers have noticed CBN has great effects on sleep disorders and may be used to treat insomnia. In fact, studies show that a 5mg dose of CBN is comparable to 5-10mg dose of diazepam. That is some strong stuff!
More studies are necessary to confirm CBN’s seemingly amazing power as well as to discover more uses for CBN. As of now, studies confirm CBN’s usefulness in treating glaucoma, certain cancers (when using CBN in conjunction with THC), and appetite stimulation.
Cannabigerol (CBG) – Minor Cannabinoid
Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the least found cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Over the years, CBG got left behind in the research venue since it only accounted for about 1% of total cannabinoids found in cannabis.
Studies into CBG’s medicinal properties are starting to gain speed. Recent findings have stirred curiosity among researchers. These findings infer that CBG is helpful in treating serious internal issues.
For example, a study conducted in Poland showed several areas of use for CBG. It is useful in reducing eye pressure caused by glaucoma. It also shows promise in aiding symptoms associated with gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel disease.
Benefits of CBG were also seen when used to treat different bladder issues and colorectal cancer.
More studies are necessary, but this cannabinoid shows the spirit of a fighter!
A Quick Word on Major and Minor Cannabinoids
Our list provided information on whether a cannabinoid was major or minor. The terms major and minor cannabinoids simply refer to the concentration of each compound in the plant.
Major cannabinoids are found in higher concentrations within the cannabis plant while minor cannabinoids are found in fewer.
With all the hybridization happening in the cannabis industry, it takes some lab work to determine the percentages of cannabinoids in a plant. Not all of them have the same amounts of cannabinoids.
Certain newer strains are bred for high levels of specific cannabinoids, like CBD, while others are grown for their full spectrum (like ours!).
Of the five cannabinoids we covered in the previous section, two are major: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). The other three fall into the minor category: Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), and Cannabinol (CBN).
Well, we fed you a whole lot of information on cannabinoids and their importance. You now understand the difference between CBD from hemp and cannabis is solely the THC content of the plant.
It is fitting that we continue forward with some information on how these major and minor cannabinoids can help our internal endocannabinoid system attempt to achieve homeostasis.
Now, we will not get too technical. However, it is a good idea for you to have a basic understanding of how this all works.
How do Cannabinoids Help Us?
Cannabinoids work in sync with our body’s endocannabinoid system. We touched on this a bit earlier. Our body naturally produces endocannabinoids to maintain a stable functioning body.
While trying to achieve homeostasis, the brain produces endocannabinoids and releases them to the area of our body that needs them most.
There are so many bodily functions regulated by the endocannabinoid system that we cannot possibly list them all here. However, it is important that we understand some of the important functions that this system helps maintain.
A few of the bodily functions that our endocannabinoid system controls are sleep, mood, pain, hormone levels, fertility, body temperature, heart rate, hunger, digestion, motor control, bodily functions (you know, #1 and #2), immune function, memory, concentration, and awareness.
There are so many more. You see, there is no way I could list them all!
When we consume cannabinoids, they adhere themselves to endocannabinoid receptors and aid them to perform their regulating functions at a better level.
Current studies show Cannabidiol (CBD) aids the Endocannabinoid System to:
Relieve Chronic Pains
Arthritis, Neuropathy, Crohn’s Disease, Endometriosis, And Fibromyalgia
Most Notably in Children
Eases Eye Pressure
Can Help Treat Mental Illnesses Like PTSD, Various Anxiety Problems and Bipolar Disorder
Treatment of Addiction
Most Notably Opiate Addiction
Improve Muscle Control
Used to Help Spasms In Patients With Huntington’s And Parkinson’s Disease
While CBD and other cannabinoids show very few side effects, you should understand your condition and the cannabinoids that will most help you before you jump into using CBD or any other products for treatment of your symptoms.
What Part of the Plant Produces CBD?
You may have seen pictures of huge cannabis plants growing outdoors or within enclosed environments. They are common when roaming around social media sites.
You must wonder what part of the cannabis plant is used to make CBD. The main part of hemp and cannabis that is extracted for its medicinal purposes is the flower.
You will find cannabinoids throughout the whole plant, but the flower is where the greatest concentrations are found.
But what about the rest of the plant? What do they do with it?
Since growing hemp for CBD is legal within the United States, other industries benefit from the leftover stalk and leaf material.
Hemp can be used to produce many products with less environmental impact than conventional methods. It grows faster than just about every other crop planted by farmers. In longer growing seasons, farmers may be able to get multiple crops.
Items like, paper, clothing, plastic, concrete replacements, textiles, food products and animal feed are all made using the hemp plant. The hemp seeds, which contain no cannabinoids, are pressed for their valuable oils.
As you can see, there is truly little waste from growing hemp and cannabis.
Growing Environments: Hemp vs. Cannabis
Hemp and cannabis grow in extremely different environments. This is due to their different uses, medicinal vs. industrial.
Since cannabis is produced for its higher THC content, indoor growing is ideal. Growers install state-of-the-art ventilation systems to assure maximum air circulation.
Specialized lighting provides an excellent substitution for the sun and provides the plants with much needed nutrients and controllable light cycles. Watering systems keep the plants consistently nourished while providing humidity.
These environments are hybridizing playgrounds for adventurous growers looking to create a plant with specific medicinal properties. Just ask the guys that created Charlotte’s Web so many years ago.
The unfortunate fallback of growing cannabis in such specialized conditions is the cost associated with each crop dramatically increases.
We need to remember that growing cannabis with higher than 0.3% THC is still illegal on the federal level.
However, some states bypassed these laws and legalized growing high THC cannabis within their states. Luckily, this has allowed more studies involving THC’s medicinal effects.
Hopefully, sometime soon, we will see many more studies conducted on the medicinal qualities of THC.
Hemp, on the other hand, is more of an industrial crop. Farmers want hemp to grow large and provide a high yield. Specialized growing condition are not needed to produce a high-quality hemp plant.
As a matter of fact, hemp likes to grow outdoors. Therefore, hemp farmers grow their crops in large, outdoor fields which allow the plant to grow uninhibited.
A Final Word
We know we dropped a lot of information in your lap. It may be a lot to handle, but we have faith in you!
The simplest concept that we want you to take away from this article is the difference between CBD from hemp and cannabis is simply knowing the THC content of the product you buy.
Hemp CBD contains less than 0.3% THC while cannabis is more than 0.3%.
We want you to make educated decisions in your symptom management program. Knowing how medicinal products work with your body is a great start to that understanding.
But you should not stop there! Keep studying! Keep learning! Keep being a proponent of CBD and its medicinal aspects.