does cbd work without thc? does thc help cbd work better?

cbd and thc’s relationship is complex and largely unknown, even still to this day. cbd is claimed to work for a wide range of treatments, while its counterpart thc is the reason why the cannabis plant has remained illegal and largely unstudied. i find it fascinating to see how each piece of information we learn about cannabis seems to be the tip of a new iceberg - a trend that should only continue as laws become more relaxed on cannabis. one question i had was how it all works in relation to thc. does cbd work without thc? does it need thc for optimal results?

cbd hemp extracts work with or without the presence of thc. cbd and thc are just two of the 100-plus cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant that all work synergistically to increase cbd’s overall effects. this is known as the entourage effect, and it does not require thc to be produced.

trace amounts of thc (under 0.3%) are found even within legally-grown hemp and are present within full spectrum cbd and hemp products. thc can also be removed while retaining everything else to create broad spectrum extracts, which still takes advantage of the entourage effect. on the other side, consuming cbd in conjunction with larger amounts of thc may have an impact on one or both substances’ individual effects.


does thc help cbd work better?

several factors come into the picture when determining if thc helps cbd work better, including the amounts of thc and cbd that are consumed. the cannabis plant (c. sativa) is broken down into two different legal categories known as hemp and “marijuana” (the latter of which is a name we absolutely despise over here). thc is the determinant between how cannabis gets legally classified, as it is the compound that produces the mind-altering effects most people associate with being “high.”

in other words, “marijuana” has more than 0.3% thc and will get you high, while hemp has less than that, with those trace amounts not being enough to produce psychoactive effects. both “marijuana” and hemp also have cbd within their naturally occurring states, though “marijuana” has been cultivated over generations to be bred with high levels of thc and trace levels of cbd due to its end-users’ likely goal being to attain the effects associated with thc.

conversely, medicinal hemp is grown to favor high levels of cbd. while you can technically consume cbd via cannabis consumption of either classification, doing so from a hemp-derived source will yield higher available levels of cbd for your body to intake. furthermore, american-grown hemp is legal in all 50 states as of the 2018 us farm bill, meaning cbd made from american-grown hemp is also legal. thc is not legal in every state, so there are potential legal risks in attempting to obtain cbd by means of “marijuana” consumption. 

with the basics under now under our feet, let’s move on to how cbd affects your body. the reason cannabis has any type of effect (let alone all of its effects) on our bodies is due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ecs) that exists inside all of us: our bodies actually create their own cannabinoids that bind to two types of receptors (cb1 and cb2) all throughout our nervous system, immune system, and so on from basically head to toe. 

these endocannabinoids are produced by the body in order to bind to our cb1 and cb2 receptors in order to maintain homeostasis when the body senses anything moving away from equilibrium. the phytocannabinoids inside cannabis mimic the same structure as those created inside our own bodies, and cbd can activate our ecs so that we produce more of our own endocannabinoids. unlike cbd, thc is able to bind readily and directly to cb1 receptors, which modifies the serotonin system as a potential serotonin agonist.

serotonin could be part of the reason why thc alters its users’ mind states. it is a neurotransmitter produced by our brains that regulates mood and a variety of other functions, and increased serotonin levels are correlated to increased happiness. interestingly enough, there is also a belief that a deprivation of serotonin may be linked to depression. 

when cbd is combined with large enough amounts of thc to become psychoactive, cbd’s activation of the ecs can disrupt thc’s ability to bind to cb1 receptors. this makes it such that the effects of cbd may actually counteract or inhibit the effects of thc. strains of “marijuana” that are high in cbd may also leave some users feeling less of their desired effects from thc as a result of this. as for the other way around, there is currently no evidence that high levels of thc impact cbd’s effectiveness, either positively or negatively.

but what about the trace amounts of thc found inside hemp? we already learned that these thc levels are not enough to make a user high, but does its presence in these small amounts help or hinder cbd’s effectiveness in any way? keep reading to find out :)

benefits of cbd and thc together

thc can be beneficial in natural trace amounts of cbd-rich hemp flower due to the phenomenon known as the entourage effect. the best way to understand the entourage effect is to think of a team of individuals accomplishing more together than they could on their own. though cbd and thc are the two primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, over 100 more are also present, working together to produce synergistic effects that enhance cbd’s effectiveness.

other compounds known as terpenes are also thought to contribute to the entourage effect. terpenes are present in all plant life on earth and are responsible for the wide range of smells and effects they exhibit. think of lavender, mint, citrus, pine, etc and how differently they all smell and affect our senses. cannabis has one of the densest terpene profiles of all plants, and this variation of terpenes also contributes towards cbd’s efficacy within the entourage effect. 

this composition of cannabinoids and terpenes makes cannabis unique and is largely responsible for why it has so much potential medicinal value. the entourage effect is simply a byproduct of using cbd in a form that is as close to its natural state as possible. in other words, you don’t need to do anything extra to obtain the entourage effect. as long as you consume a whole plant extract (like broad spectrum drops), your body will take care of the rest by itself.

the opposite of a whole plant extract would involve isolating the cbd molecule from all of its other entourage-inducing family members. this is aptly called cbd isolate, and it will still prove to display a long list of beneficial properties, though to nowhere near as full of an extent as its whole-plant counterparts since it cannot facilitate the onset of the entourage effect.  

the term full spectrum is used to describe a hemp extract that has retained its natural form with all cannabinoids, terpenes, and other minor compounds. by now, you probably understand that its ability to bring about the entourage effect multiplies its potential power. however, there are two more vital facts to mention about full spectrum extracts: thc is not a necessary component to the entourage effect, and it is still federally illegal, meaning even trace amounts could technically put you at potential legal risk.

enter broad spectrum hemp extracts: you can still achieve all of the full spectrum benefits when thc is removed from the equation as long as all other accessory cannabinoids, terpenes, etc are still present in your cbd-rich product. this guarantees you’re compliant with federal law and also means you will be able to pass any necessary drug tests if you are an athlete, your workplace requires it, and so on. also, under general circumstances, thc’s contribution to the entourage effect has not been proven to be significant.

just like cbd, thc has medicinal value of its own. one primary area where thc could be beneficial is in cancer treatments, and cbd may even potentiate thc’s anti-tumoral abilities. while this goes against the understanding that cbd can interfere with thc’s ability to bind to cb1 receptors, it ultimately suggests that thc has a more dynamic and complex relationship within our bodies than we fully understand yet, just like cbd. 


cbd with or without thc: which should i choose?

it is ultimately your decision whether to choose between cbd without thc, whether in broad spectrum or isolate form, or its thc-present counterparts of full spectrum extracts and even “marijuana.” hopefully based on the above information you find yourself with enough knowledge to at least develop a plan for yourself. there is no “wrong” decision, though concerns about legality, drug testing, or otherwise could also help you rule out those products that contain even trace amounts of thc.

also be sure to remember that cbd serves as a potential long-term solution more than it does a spot treatment. consistent usage will work towards regulating your ecs so that it can carry out its necessary homeostatic functions as routinely as possible. whether you are taking cbd for some specific reason or simply for overall well being, doing so every day allows your body to maximize its benefits. 

the opposite may also be true in that only using cbd once in a while may not unleash its full potential. it is possible to not feel cbd’s effects right away, so it’s important to continue usage as it builds up in your system. regardless of whether you choose cbd with or without thc, there are a few things to pay attention to in order get the most out of your experience when taking cbd oil.

your ecs’ relationship to the rest of your body is based on literally every factor in your life, both internally and externally. this means cbd and your individual body chemistry are sure to have a uniquely complex relationship, and it might take time for you to find out exactly what works best for you. fortunately for you, regular cbd usage will work in your favor throughout that process.

dosage is one of the largest variables in the mix. people are often advised to start slow and work their way up. in all reality, this is very safe advice and never worth arguing against. but, should you find a small amount to be ineffective immediately, it is also perfectly fine to continually take more with each next scheduled dosage. cbd is nontoxic and perfectly safe to take even in large doses, so you can absolutely experiment as you continue to acclimate your ecs to its new phytocannabinoid friend.

you could also take things slower just fine, maintaining the same dosage size for a week (or even longer) before adjusting in either direction. ultimately, the only “wrong” way to go about it is to not have a game plan. be aware of the amount of cbd you are consuming in addition to how often and what time you are taking it so that you can adjust accordingly and purposefully should you feel the need. factors such as weight, lifestyle, other present symptoms and the severity of those symptoms, may all contribute to your body’s interaction with cbd, though the list cannot be limited to just the ones listed here.

the method of consumption can also play a role as different types of cbd products are absorbed by your body at different rates. you have mucous membranes in parts of your body like the insides of your cheeks, underneath your tongue, and your lungs that allow for cbd to be more rapidly absorbed than when it passes through the digestive tract. as such, cbd in forms like sublingual drops and vapes are the most effective ways to consume cbd. 

of the two, vaping may have other associated risks or may be simply unpreferable. drops are always a good option provided you have done your homework and made sure that the product you are buying has been made with organic, american-grown hemp that has been third-party lab tested in order to prove it has an appropriate amount of cbd and an absence of all other harmful toxins such as lead, arsenic, and pesticides. we recommend staying away from cbd products at places like gas stations and the like: they will probably not hold up to any qualifying standards.

assuming your cbd company is of the utmost integrity, sublingual drops provide an advantage over eating those same drops or consuming any other cbd product orally, such as capsules, gummies, chocolates, and so on. when taken orally, cbd must go through the entirety of your digestive tract before absorption begins. not only does this process take longer, but less cbd ultimately makes it through and into your bloodstream, making it less effective. 

while sublingual drops are generally a better choice, individual body chemistry can be a potential caveat. some people simply find that edible cbd products work better, proving why it’s important to experiment for yourself and see what you like. with that being said, there are a lot of products on the market like drinks that are likely to contain little-to-no active cbd in them. you are also going to pay a large markup for these “add-ons”, so exercise caution when trying to get cbd in that manner. it’s always going to be better to buy quality products yourself and add it on your own.

regardless of the cbd product you choose and whether or not it contains thc, it is going to take time to find that optimal relationship. knowing the difference between cbd isolate, full spectrum, and broad spectrum hemp extracts, as well as the various ways to consume them, will help you understand your cbd journey to the fullest and enable you to get the most out of it.  

lastly, remember that all cbd products are not created equal. pay attention to the amount of cbd in all products – it will be measured in milligrams (mg). the more concentrated the product, the better. if you are going to consume any products with higher levels of thc (in states where it is legal to do so, of course), also pay attention to the ratio of cbd to thc. there is no standardized order on these ratios, so you want to make sure to know which numbers represent which amounts between thc and cbd. 

at the end of the day, full and broad spectrum products do enable you to take advantage of the entourage effect in a way that isolate cannot. regardless, as long as you are getting good cbd, you will be able to receive all the potential benefits. i’ll leave you with one last form of proof in regards to that point: there is an fda-approved cbd isolate product called epidiolex that has been proven effective in treating seizures. hopefully, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential advancements for all the ways cbd can help improve our lives.

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