CBD vs THC: The Hemp Plant Explained

CBD vs THC: The Hemp Plant Explained

Hemp is taking the world by storm. And it’s little wonder why – it’s one of the most nutritious, sustainable and restorative plants on earth. But there’s still a lot of confusion and mixed messaging surrounding the difference between hemp, cannabis and marijuana (as well as CBD vs THC).  So, let’s start from the beginning…  

Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana 
Cannabis. Whether you’re an advocate or a critic – there’s no denying the plants return to the limelight.  

Cannabis is an umbrella term that refers to an entire plant family. There are over 100 different types of cannabinoids that are found in the plant – which are chemical compounds that interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). If you haven’t heard of this system, that’s ok. It’s not exactly something they teach in school. But thanks to relatively new research, scientists have confirmed that this system is inside all of us. And it’s an important one, too. 

The ECS helps our body to remain stable. It plays a role in sleep, mood, appetite, memory and more. This explains why the cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) in cannabis affect our functioning. Now, where do hemp and marijuana come into the picture?

Simply put, Marijuana is a variety of Cannabis that is high in the compound THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol). Like the rebel of the family - THC has a lot of good things going for it – but it gets a bad name because of its psychoactive effects. 

Hemp, on the other hand, is a variety of Cannabis that is high in CBD
. The golden child of the family – it’s been widely researched for its health benefits. So, let’s go a little deeper into the difference between CBD and THC… 

What is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?
When curious teenagers go looking for cannabis, what they’re really searching for is tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the chemical compound responsible for the euphoric high. It releases dopamine and affects things like pleasure, coordination, concentration and memory. There is research to show that THC can help treat chronic pain, depression, inflammation and other conditions. In saying that, we mustn’t overlook its psychoactive downfalls. 

What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
CBD is the high-performer, here. It’s been used for stress, anxiety, mood disorders, cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, insomnia, nausea, eating disorders… the list goes on. Studies support that CBD can prevent and suppress neurological, oncological and inflammatory diseases. It can also help to ease stress, reduce anxiety and boost your overall mood. However, more human studies need to be done on CBD to fully understand its potential and risks. 

CBD, THC and Hemp: Cannabis Laws In Australia
To recap: No, CBD won’t get you high. Yes, THC will. 

Marijuana contains a high percentage of THC, and as a result, it’s illegal to buy and consume Australia. Hemp-derived CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC are legal in Australia – although they’re not available over the counter (you have to gain approval from a doctor, although this is set to change again in February 2021). 

Now you’re probably thinking, but how come I’ve seen hemp readily available on the supermarket shelves? It’s because hemp products like hemp seedshemp seed oil and hemp protein are produced using only the seeds of the plant – and the seeds don’t contain high amounts, if any, of cannabinoids (like CBD). To create a hemp-derived product with higher amounts of CBD, producers will use the flowers, stalks and leaves. 

What’s important to note, hemp doesn’t directly interact with your endocannabinoid system. However, it’s still bursting with goodies to enhance your health and wellbeing. Nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and the optimum ratio of Omega 3 and 6… just to name a few. It’s the plant that keeps on giving.