If you are a new medical card holder in Illinois, you’re probably wondering where to begin with medical cannabis treatment. After talking with a physician and other medical marijuana users, you’ll find that some patients prefer THC and others prefer CBD, and that each of these cannabinoids have very different effects on the mind and body. At Medical Cannabis Outreach, our clinicians would be more than happy to discuss the different types of medicinal marijuana treatments with you in order to help you decide whether THC, CBD, or a combination would be of most benefit to you. Contact one of our medical cannabis clinics in Savoy, Chicago, Pekin, or our other three locations across the state, or continue reading to learn the main differences between THC and CBD.
What Is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the two main cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, and it is the main active compounds that produces a “high” when consumed. This psychoactive compound interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to alter the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating pain, stress, appetite, and sleep. As you can imagine, this euphoric effect can be extremely beneficial to medical cannabis patients who are suffering from chronic pain and muscle spasms (such as those associated with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and seizures).
Many medical cannabis patients choose to consume THC by smoking the crystalized flower of the cannabis plant, though there are many other methods of consumption available today. Obviously, not all patients find this method of consumption appealing, especially if they have respiratory problems or are bothered by the skunky smell of the medical marijuana flower. Thanks to recent advancements in the medical cannabis industry, patients can now consume medical marijuana through vaporizers, edibles, and oil tinctures or gel THC pills. Though each of these methods will result in the same euphoric effect, some have benefits over others in terms of the duration of the “high,” dosage consistency, taste, and smell.
Sativa Vs. Indica
It is also worth noting that there are two main strains of the medical marijuana plant: sativa and indica. Both of these strains have noticeable psychoactive effects, but each strain has a slightly different effect on the mind and body. Cannabis indica plants produce more of a “body high,” meaning that they increase muscle relaxation while easing tension, acute pain, and mental stress. The indica strain is also known for decreasing nausea and increasing appetite, as well as increasing the amount of dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter) that is released into the brain. This makes the indica strain a good option for medical marijuana patients who prefer nighttime use of treatment, as well as those who need help eating, relaxing, and getting to sleep.
Cannabis sativa, on the other hand, is the opposite of cannabis indica in the sense that it produces more of a mental euphoria than deep, mind-body relaxation. However, the sativa strain is still incredibly beneficial for many medical cannabis patients, as it reduces anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Thanks to its energizing properties, cannabis sativa also increases creativity for some patients, as well as focus and interest in some activities. Cannabis sativa is typically used during the day, as it increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, or the “happy” chemical that is linked to mood, appetite, memory, learning, sleep, and socialization.
If you still aren’t sure which strain of THC is best for you, consult with one of our in-house physicians at Medical Cannabis Outreach. In some cases, we may suggest a hybrid of the two strains that is either indica-heavy or sativa-heavy (or half and half), or we might suggest CBD oil instead.
What Is CBD?
In many ways, CBD is the opposite of THC — it has no psychoactive effect whatsoever and is more predominant in the hemp plant than the cannabis plant. Rather than having “intoxicating” effects, CBD provides relief for many of the same symptoms and ailments of certain health conditions that THC does, including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and nausea. It also aids in reducing inflammation in the body, which is why so many patients who use CBD oil have autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Some of the other health conditions CBD can be beneficial in treating are neurological conditions, like dementia, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, and autism, as well as intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease and colitis. Though research is still being done at the federal level with regard to the benefits of CBD, the FDA recognized its potential for alleviating and preventing epileptic seizures last year when Epidiolex was approved as a medication for Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. It is the first FDA-approved medication that contains cannabinoids.
Like THC, CBD can be consumed a variety of ways. However, smoking it is not the most common method of consumption. Many medical cannabis patients prefer to use pure CBD oil in tincture form, which can be administered sublingually by using a dropper to place the dose under the tongue. Other methods of consumption include CBD topicals, which are for external use only and come in the form of lotions, salves, and even bath bombs. CBD edibles and vaporizers are also common, as they provide a discreet, user-friendly way to administer the treatment on the go.
Is THC Or CBD Best For Me?
As with any other kind of medication, it takes some trial and error to find out whether THC or CBD is best for you and your medical condition. As previously mentioned, some patients do not enjoy the psychoactive effects of cannabis indica and sativa, so they use CBD oil. Others might find the benefits of indica to be greater than sativa, so their treatment may consist of both cannabis indica and CBD oil. It all comes down to finding the right combination of medical cannabis products and adjusting your treatment as needed.
What’s interesting is that both strains of THC contain some CBD, with cannabis indica plants having a higher CBD to THC ratio, and cannabis sativa having higher THC counts. Research has shown that CBD actually counters the effects of THC, making it a great medicinal to have on hand if you feel too “high” from THC and want to tone it down a bit. Even if you prefer medical marijuana (sativa or indica) over CBD oil, our physicians recommend having some on hand as you begin your treatment so you have a backup while you’re figuring out the appropriate doses of medical cannabis.
If you have further questions about THC and CBD, feel free to reach out to our clinicians at Medical Cannabis Outreach. We would be more than happy to discuss treatment options with you and provide a professional recommendation with regard to which cannabinoid, strain, and/or dosage would be best for you. Contact us today, or visit one of our medical cannabis clinics in Chicago, Savoy, Harrisburg, Pekin, Shelbyville, or Wood River!