January 17, 2020 4 min read

A new study has recently restructured the backbone argument of CBD as a complement to medical marijuana and THC-based medications. The study is the first of its kind to identify the molecular structure by which CBD interacts with THC to prevent some of its potential negative side effects. It isn’t the first study, however, to confirm thatCBD and THC may work some magic when used together. 

In fact, scientists have known for quite some time that medical marijuana strains with high THC and low CBD contents are more likely to result in certain psychiatric side effects. The new research, however, looks at this phenomenon under the microscope and may be a major step towards helping medical professionals more effectively and accurately recommend medical marijuana, possibly with a corresponding dose of CBD. This is great news for many medicinal THC users, especially those who greatly benefit from the medicinal properties of marijuana but are equally susceptible to common side effects, like paranoia. 

Understanding Medical Marijuana and THC Side Effects

Marijuana has been used medicinally since nearly the beginning of recorded history and even more recently has been gaining serious traction in western medicine. That’s because researchers have begun to lift the veil and expose marijuana’s main cannabinoid, THC, for its many potential benefits. According toWebMD, the following conditions are frequently treated with medical marijuana:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Appetite loss
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Mental health conditions like schizophrenia andposttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Wasting syndrome (cachexia)

Further, medical marijuana has been renowned by the medical community for itseffects on chronic, or difficult to treat pain, sometimes even in the place of opioids. Although THC may be primarily responsible for many of these positive effects of medical marijuana, it is also the component responsible for the psychoactive effects related to the plant. These effects are the primary reason that marijuana is used recreationally, but may also be the cause of some of the psychiatric side effects of THC. Although it varies by person, dosage, and other factors, some of these psychiatric side effects include anxiety, paranoia, or addictive behaviors.


Studies Show CBD Helps Reduce THC Side Effects

As suggested, researchers have been aware of CBD’s potential ability to negate THC side effects for quite some time. In fact, one prominentstudy published in 1982 identified this link between the two cannabinoids. The study utilized eight human volunteers who received one of three treatments: THC alone, a combination of THC and CBD, and a combination of THC and a common anxiolytic medication, diazepam. The study aimed to determine if CBD reduced the anxiety related to THC by blocking all characteristic effects of THC or through an anxiolytic effect of its own. 

The results showed that CBD reduced anxiety in a similar manner to the diazepam when administered alongside CBD, without blocking the other effects of THC. Of course, this small trial is only a tiny footprint along the trek to understanding the complicated interactions between THC and CBD. Both compounds, which react within the body’sendocannabinoid system, have their own impact on anxiety, the hippocampus, and other parts of the brain. 

In some circumstances, the two cannabinoids may even create synergistic effects. For instance, onestudy shows that cannabidiol may boost the painkilling properties of THC, potentially making the combination even more useful for those suffering from chronic pain. Although we’ve known, to an extent, how CBD and THC may interact, the effects vary greatly from case to case. This could be due to differences in biological chemistry between users, different THC to CBD ratios, the different formulations of individual THC or CBD products, or a range of other factors. This has made it difficult for medical professionals to understand and accurately recommend THC and CBD to patients, especially those with a history of anxiety or other psychiatric conditions. This recent study, however, aims it’s sights at explaining exactly how CBD and THC interact within the brain, and how CBD just might be the key to reducing the negative psychiatric risks of THC. 

Researchers Show How CBD Blocks THC-induced Paranoia

Astudy published in the Journal of Neuroscience this past September focused on a molecule called ERK, or extracellular-signal-regulated kinase. The Western University researchers found that when THC was administered alone, subjects showed a higher level of ERK activation within the hippocampus. This overstimulation ofERK pathways was also linked to increased anxiety behaviors and increased sensitivity to fear-based learning techniques. When THC was administered with CBD, the subjects' ERK activation remained at a normal level similar to the control subjects, as did anxiety behavior and sensitivity to fear-based learning. The conclusion was that CBD prevents the overstimulation of ERK pathways to negate the neuropsychiatric effects of THC. Interestingly, they found that CBD had no impact on these pathways when administered alone. Researchers at Western University plan to continue this research to help advance the use of medical marijuana and its components. Steven Laviolette, head researcher, believes "this discovery opens up a new molecular frontier for developing more effective and safer THC formulations.” 

Using CBD and THC Together

Although this research is very recent and expected to continue to advance, many anecdotal reports suggest that CBD and THC can be used together in multiple ways to provide a range of benefits. Aside from usingCBD to enhance the effects of THC, many others use CBD to prevent THC-induced anxiety or paranoia. One user suggested that heonly uses high CBD strains with a CBD: THC content of 1:1 or higher, which allows him to "enjoy a high without anxiety." 

There are multiple ways that medical marijuana users can access CBD. One way would be to utilize a high CBD, low THC cannabis strain for smoking or vaping. Of course, for users who prefer specific strains or need a CBD product on hand only for certain occasions, there are other options. You can use a CBD product alongside your regular medical marijuana strains to experience the benefits of the synergistic combination. Some of the most popular ways to consumer CBD includetinctures,edibles, andvaporizers. If you’re curious about adding CBD to your medical marijuana routine, talk to your doctor. Then, shop online for a CBD product that best fits your needs. For further information on choosing the best product, you may want to read “The Many Forms of CBD: Choosing the Best CBD Product for You.”

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