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CBD vs. THC: What’s the Big Difference?

Posted by Dr. Ellana on

Although similar, these key cannabinoids have very distinct effects and purposes.

Fact: the cannabis plant is wonderfully complex and has so many interesting elements worth studying! For one, it’s composed of chemical compounds called “cannabinoids”, the most popular being CBD and THC. 

Formally known as “cannabidiol” and “tetrahydrocannabinol” respectively, they share some commonalities; most notably, they interact with the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, leading to cognitive and physical sensations like relaxation and pain relief. On the flipside, CBD and THC are also different in many regards. For this very reason, Safo’s nourishing hair formulas are THC-free, which you’ll learn more about below!

On that note, today’s post zeroes in on how THC and CBD differ through the lens of psychoactive abilities, intended uses, and potential side effects. 

Photo: Aurora

CBD is non-intoxicating, while THC gets you high

When educating yourself on cannabis, it’s crucial to understand the effects of these two primary cannabinoids. They interact with the endocannabinoid system (the network of cannabinoid receptors in the body) quite differently! 

First, CBD won’t get you high, but it’s still psychoactive when ingested or inhaled because it affects your mood. It doesn’t activate your brain receptors the same way as THC, which is why you’ll never feel intoxicated. Rather, CBD effectively works with the receptors throughout the body that are linked to overall well-being, making it an excellent self-care tool that may reduce anxiety, chronic pain, skin and scalp irritation

On the other hand, THC will get you high. It mainly stimulates the receptors in your brain that control mood, pain, eating and pleasure. This process signals to your neurons – let’s call them our “information messengers” – to release a higher level of dopamine, otherwise known as the “feel good” hormone. That’s how the euphoria sets in!

CBD and THC serve different purposes

Now that you know how these cannabinoids bring on certain effects, let’s review some of their specific purposes and how they can be best used! 

When it comes to CBD, studies have shown it’s incredibly nourishing for the skin when applied topically. We can definitely vouch for that! Our CBD scalp serum and hair moisturizer are entirely THC-free. Why? For starters, there’s little to no research on whether or not THC actually improves scalp and hair health. To cut to the chase, it’s just not necessary! CBD has been studied much more thoroughly; it’s chock full of everything you need to help calm inflammation, generate hair growth, soothe scalp irritation and strengthen your locks. Its high protein content, vitamins, and minerals are believed to increase sebum production and build on keratin. 

As for THC, it’s safe to say that many are fond of its pleasurable high. Beyond that, it serves another purpose that’s essential to total body wellness; this mighty cannabinoid has the potential to be a highly effective sleep aid! When consumed, it latches on to your receptors, which then tell the brain to increase sleep-promoting adenosine levels. At this point, you’ll probably start feeling sleepy and nod off into Dreamland. 

Long term THC use may lead to adverse side-effects

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the long-term use of THC can possibly lead to issues such as memory loss and reduced psychomotor function (physical actions that require conscious thought, like driving a car). However, there’s still a lack of conclusive research confirming whether regular consumption can lead to persistent cognitive problems. To that end, consuming THC products may also trigger psychiatric effects, including paranoia and anxiety. 

But get this: Studies examining the protective qualities of CBD have shown that it can likely counteract the negative effects of THC, due in part to its ability to modulate excess cannabinoid activity in the brain! Hopefully, more studies will be released in the future, so that we can absorb as much knowledge as possible. The more you know! 

Overall, while CBD and THC work beautifully together, they also stand strong on their own! 

As such, we believe in conscious consumption and using cannabis with intention; this means seeking products and rituals that align with your goals, whether it be to amp up your winter hair care routine, or enjoy a night at home with your preferred high-THC cultivar.

Either way… do you! 

Still cannacurious? Check out our blog and subscribe to the Safo newsletter below for our official guide to CBD for hair! And as we always say: be sure to consult with a medical professional to see if cannabis products are right for you.

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