Why CBD works better with a little THC (even if you don’t want to get high)
Way back in 2014, I wrote an article called “Desperately Seeking CBD” that profiled several families who either broke the law or moved clear across the country to access cannabidiol (CBD)—a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant that’s proven effective in treating pediatric seizure disorders that don’t respond to more conventional therapies. At the time, the father of a two-year old epilepsy patient explained that they’d uprooted their entire existence and moved to Colorado just to try the treatment.
The best available science makes clear that whole-plant cannabis preparations are quantifiably superior to single compounds.
Five years later, you can buy CBD ice cream in Texas. Cannabidiol is officially “trendy.” Capsules, tinctures, ointments, and oils containing the compound can be readily purchased online (as well as at gas stations and hair salons nationwide), and the legalization of hemp farming this December via the most recent US Farm Bill means that this rapidly growing market segment will likely expand exponentially over the next five years.
All good news, even if the recent media focus on shiny objects like CBD-infused cocktails has threatened to crowd out significant research showing cannabidiol has tremendous promise in treating cancer , diabetes , head trauma , chronic pain , neurodegenerative disease , depression, anxiety , and addiction .
But unfortunately, along the way, there’s been a lot of shady operators selling CBD in a largely unregulated grey market, and as a result, a ton of misinformation has attached itself to this potentially life-saving cannabinoid.
In fact, Project CBD—a non-profit dedicated to boosting science-based understanding of cannabidiol—has compiled an extensive list of pervasive misconceptions, one of which is “CBD is medical, THC is recreational.”
On the contrary, even small doses of THC combined with CBD can improve the efficacy of your cannabis medicine.
THC is TLC for your CBD
Originally, cannabis contained far less THC than it typically does now, and a lot more CBD. But over time, breeders have created ever more potent strains, as that’s what fetches the best price in the underground market. These breeders certainly understood that selecting for greater potency meant maximizing THC output, but just ten years ago few had even heard of CBD, never mind realized it was steadily getting bred out of existence.
Project CBD was founded in 2009, a time when CBD had almost entirely vanished from the cannabis gene pool. The organization’s founders recognized that while there’s long been evidence of CBD’s medical efficacy, unlike THC, it wasn’t reaching actual medical cannabis patients in appreciable amounts. So they worked directly with cannabis labs in California (then a new phenomenon) to identify the few remaining CBD-rich strains in circulation and make them available to growers, researchers and patients.
Which means you can put them down as big fans of CBD. Just don’t put down THC while you’re doing it.
Project CBD receives many inquiries from around the world and oftentimes people say they are seeking “CBD, the medical part” of the plant, “not THC, the recreational part” that gets you high. Actually, THC, “The High Causer,” has awesome therapeutic properties… [but] diehard marijuana prohibitionists are exploiting the good news about CBD to further stigmatize high-THC cannabis, casting tetrahydrocannabinol as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is framed as the good cannabinoid. Why? Because CBD doesn’t make you feel high like THC does.
Project CBD categorically rejects this moralistic, reefer madness dichotomy in favor of whole plant cannabis therapeutics.
The best available science makes clear that whole-plant cannabis preparations are quantifiably superior to single compounds because the plant’s complex mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids interact synergistically to create an “entourage effect” that enhances each other’s therapeutic effects.
- A study conducted at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that combining THC and CBD produces more potent anti-tumor effects when tested on brain cancer and breast cancer cell lines than either compound alone.
- A 2010 study found that patients with intractable cancer-related pain tolerated medicines that combined THC and CBD notably better than a pure THC extract.
- A 2012 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD “inhibits THC-elicited paranoid symptoms and hippocampal-dependent memory impairment”
Finding the sweet spot
Products with a balance of THC and CBD are becoming more commonplace in cannabis shops as consumers realize the value of cannabinoid synergy. (Elise McDonough for Leafly)
Lots of people (like yours truly) enjoy the psychoactivity of cannabis and find it mood elevating and healing in and of itself, but rest assured that you don’t need to get high AF to reap the benefits of THC.
However, finding your optimal dose will involve some trial and error.
According to Project CBD:
The successful use of cannabis as a medicine depends to a great extent on managing its psychoactive properties. The goal is to administer consistent, measurable doses of a CBD-rich cannabis remedy with as much THC as a person is comfortable with… Preclinical science lends credence to the notion that a small amount of THC can confer health benefits. Oral administration of a low dose of THC (1 mg/day) resulted in “significant inhibition of disease progression” in an animal model of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), according to a 2005 report in Nature , which noted: “This effective dose is lower than the dose usually associated with psychotropic effects of THC.”
In a feature called We Asked a Scientist: What’s the Right Dose of CBD? , Nick Jikomes, Leafly’s in-house neuroscientist, explored the complicated process involved in optimizing the benefits of cannabis without going one toke over the line, including managing the complex interplay between THC and CBD.
CBD is essentially getting in the way of THC’s ability to bind the CB1 receptor, which is why the presence of CBD has a significant impact on the psychoactivity of THC-containing products, [and] why the ratio of the two compounds is important for anticipating the effects of cannabis products… While THC and CBD have different pharmacological properties, they can both have similar physiological effects, probably acting through different mechanisms. For instance, both compounds can have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; they may act through different mechanisms, so having THC and CBD could potentially enhance an outcome surrounding pain relief.
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a legally operating cannabis dispensary, you should have no problem finding flowers, concentrates, topicals, and edibles with a wide range of THC-to-CBD ratios. But patients and consumers still sourcing their cannabis from the underground market will encounter more difficulty.
Browse menus near you for CBD/THC products
One suggestion is to try combining whatever form of CBD you can access locally with the best whole-plant cannabis you can lay your hands on. Perhaps this means swallowing a CBD capsule and then taking a few puffs off a joint an hour later.
As always with cannabis, start with small doses and work you way up until you find the sweet spot.
Cannabis research has shown that even a small amount of THC can make your CBD medicine more effective. Here's why.
CBD Without THC | Everything You Need to Know
One of the biggest concerns that people new to CBD products have is, “Will CBD get me high?” We can tell you with certainty that the answer is a resounding “no.” This is especially true when you are using Joy Organics products, so let us break down how our broad spectrum products are 0.0% THC but full of potent phytocannabinoids.
Broad Spectrum Hemp and CBD
Just like you are much different from your siblings, hemp is different from marijuana. Marijuana is a bit of a wild child when it comes to the Cannabis sativa family. It contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the psychoactive chemical compound that is prevalent in this version of Cannabis sativa.
Hemp is a different variety. Under state law, true hemp has less than 0.3% THC in its genetic makeup. If it tests higher than that, it is legally classified as the schedule 1 controlled substance known as marijuana. Legally authorized hemp cannot get you high. This is why Kentucky farmers fought for the legalization of hemp back in 2014.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed for the selling of hemp products across all 50 states. It also made it federally legal to cultivate hemp if the state you reside in approves of the cultivation.
Up until recently, to grow hemp you had to apply for permission with your state. From there, they must agree that the hemp is being grown for educational purposes, research or in compliance with the state’s pilot program. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, there are fewer hoops to jump through, but the less than 0.3% THC requirement still applies.
Seeing as Joy Organics is supplied with premium hemp that complies with the Farm Bill, we know that there is no chance our products can get you high. However, we go the extra step in ensuring that the THC is removed from the final product while all other phytocannabinoids remain in place. We even use third-party labs to ensure there are no detectable levels of THC in our products. Let’s go through the process we use to deliver the highest quality CBD products with 0.0% THC.
Drying the Naturally Grown Hemp
We receive our hemp from nutrient-rich soil in the U.S. Once the hemp arrives at our warehouse, we dry it out. When it’s ready to be used in our CBD products, we mill the dried hemp into a coarse powder. Once processed, we ship to our manufacturing facility.
Extracting the Oil
While we use much of the plant during the process, you don’t want the whole plant in the final product! Depending on the product we make, we go through a proprietary hemp extraction and purification processes.
The most common way to extract CBD is through CO2 extraction. There are three ways to achieve this:
- Supercritical (most common)
No matter the method, the extraction is accomplished through the force of pressurized carbon dioxide. Machines typically freeze the carbon dioxide gas. They then compress it into a supercritical state that is comprised of a cold liquid. When in contact with the hemp plant, these gaseous molecules will act as a solvent. They will draw precious phytochemicals out of the plant material.
To maintain the terpenes, this process is done at low temperatures such as -69 degrees F. Pressure is slowly raised to around 75 pounds per square inch. This is the beginning point for extracting CBD with carbon dioxide.
Once you hit that sweet spot, you want to keep increasing the temperature until it reaches past the point that is known as “supercritical.” This is a unique moment in the genetic makeup of carbon dioxide. The gaseous vapors of carbon dioxide fill a container that captures the beneficial chemicals of hemp.
Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide still has liquid-like density. Therefore, its cold temperatures allow the cannabinoids to slow down and bind with carbon dioxide molecules. As the temperature slowly goes up, those cannabinoids will be released when the carbon dioxide dissipates into a gaseous form.
You can also extract the oil with ethanol, in which case only the highest quality food grade ethanol should be used.
Refining the Process
Once the extraction process is over, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of plant material that you don’t want. You need to separate it from all the good stuff. Cannabinoids and terpenes will go down one path while supercritical carbon dioxide goes into a condenser. Here, it is turned back into a liquid and put into a storage tank for future use.
During this process, unnecessary fats and solids are separated from the phytocannabinoids we covet. In the end, our products contain a multitude of cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds.
Having all of these molecules present further enriches the benefits of the final product. That is because cannabinoids have been shown to have an entourage effect on one another. Therefore, in the presence of other cannabinoids, their beneficial qualities are amplified.
Distilling Out the THC
Once all the phytocannabinoids are extracted, they are distilled. This will take all the solid plant matter out of the equation. However, still in the equation? THC. At Joy Organics, we want you to experience all the benefits that each of the phytocannabinoids in hemp plants has to offer. We want to make sure you enjoy it worry-free without the THC.
Using proprietary technology, we take out THC, wax, chlorophyll and other plant pigments. To prove this, we provide third-party lab test results. Each product that leaves the facility is tested for quality and purity.
When the batch passes for purity, it receives a Certificate of Quality Assurance. That way each customer knows more than one pair of eyes inspected the product. This is the type of transparency that sets Joy Organics apart from other CBD products.
On top of the in-house testing, a third-party also tests every batch of product. These parties keep us in check by verifying our certificates.
Benefits of CBD Without THC
As we mentioned, broad spectrum hemp oil comes with phytocannabinoids intact, minus THC. Having all these unique plant chemicals present is what makes CBD products so beneficial to many. So what are some of these benefits that 0.0% THC products have? Glad you asked!
Throughout the body lies a series of synapses, molecular highways and complex systems known as the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system communicates with numerous receptors throughout your body. When all is going well, the receptors mind their business. However, when problems pop up in the system, the neural tissues at the end of the receptors go into panic mode.
These receptors send signals out to the endocannabinoid system. This complex area of the body deciphers the message it receives and figures out a plan of attack. If you’re sleepy, it might trigger the pineal gland to secrete melatonin. In times of joy, the endocannabinoid system will tell the adrenal glands to let out a bit of dopamine.
Suffice to say, the endocannabinoid system covers a lot of ground. So, when taking CBD, the cannabinoids interact indirectly with receptors and other compounds, supplementing the endocannabinoid system and helping it do what it does best.
Even more unique? Our skin also contains its own endocannabinoid system. That’s right! Directly under the epidermis is a circuit of receptors. By using CBD products such as a CBD salve, you get directly to those receptors under the skin.
What Is the Difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Both hemp and marijuana are derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana contains low levels of CBD and high levels of THC. This ratio of phytocannabinoids is what causes marijuana’s high. Hemp has a higher CBD to THC ratio, which is why CBD oil doesn’t cause intoxicating effects.
Does CBD Oil Have THC?
THC is naturally present in hemp. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, all agriculture hemp must have a genetic makeup of 0.3% THC or less. Upon extraction, THC, CBD, and all other 100+ phytocannabinoids are present. Some companies will remove THC and other phytocannabinoids from the formula to create broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolate products.
Why Use CBD Oil with THC?
Each phytocannabinoid has a unique role in maintaining homeostasis (balance) in our endocannabinoid system. While CBD on its own might be beneficial, other phytocannabinoids enrich the formula by causing an entourage effect. Low levels of THC might not cause a high, and it may improve the overall effectiveness of the formula.
What Is the Difference between CBD Products?
CBD isolate is pure CBD. Broad spectrum CBD contains naturally-occurring phytocannabinoids and terpenes, sans THC. Full spectrum CBD has all of the organic compounds found in hemp, including THC.
How Are Phytocannabinoids Extracted?
Reputable companies, such as Joy Organics, use supercritical carbon dioxide to extract CBD oil. This process preserves the integrity of phytocannabinoids and terpenes to create premium phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract.
How Is THC Removed?
After extraction, CBD oil goes through a distillation process. During distillation, unwanted material—such as chlorophyll and wax—gets removed. CBD isolate and broad spectrum companies can remove unwanted phytocannabinoids here, too.
How to Ensure There Is No THC in Your CBD Oil
Check the label for broad spectrum or CBD isolate products. Stay away from CBD oil that says “full spectrum.” Also, read the lab reports for any product you buy. They will not only confirm THC content, but also ensure that the product is free of pesticides and heavy metals.
Contact Joy Organics For Your “CBD Without THC” Needs
There are many ways to enjoy CBD products and they all come without the psychoactive side effects that THC brings. We at Joy Organics hold our products up to the highest standards. That is why we take great care of the hemp plants from drying to extracting to distilling. We formulate our products with the greatest care and are proud to deliver the highest quality CBD products you can find. Contact us today if you have any questions!
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Joy Smith is Joy Organics Co-founder and visionary. After her own life-changing experience with CBD, Joy started Joy Organics to create a line of sustainable and premium CBD products consumers could trust. Before founding Joy Organics, Joy worked as an itinerant speaker, traveling to over four continents to empower women across the globe.
Will CBD get you high? Short answer: no. Joy Organics is supplied with organically grown hemp, and shares the process used to get CBD without THC.