CBD is THC’s partner in success

If you are a medical patient, the strain with the highest THC may not be your ideal strain, and if you ignore CBD, you are missing half the picture. Most everyone who is familiar with cannabis, is also probably familiar with THC, jokingly called “the high causer”, formally known by its full name as Tetrahydrocannabinol. In contrast, most of those same people are not likely to be familiar with CBD, whose formal full name is cannabidiol. Martin A. Lee puts it perfectly in his book Smoke Signals, writing “CBD is the yin of THC’s yang.” THC and CBD are typically the two most prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis. Many familiar with the pharmacological history of cannabis know about Marinol, the synthetic THC-only pill born in the mid-80’s. Marinol is widely known for being ineffective, and for commonly having a side-effect of an overwhelming-high. This type of overwhelming-high is too much for patients to handle, leading them to be anxious and uncomfortable. This side-effect can also be noted it some patients when medicating with high-THC/low-CBD strains of cannabis.

One important thing to note about CBD is it does not cause the patient to get “high”, known in the medical world as euphoria. This can lead some to a knee-jerk reaction to beleive THC is an intoxicant and CBD is a healer, however to be clear this is not correct. As Steve DeAngelo discusses in his book The Cannabis Manifesto, we should have the perspective that cannabis is a wellness product and not an intoxicant, including and especially THC. Dr. Tod Mikuriya is quoted in Smoke Signals perfectly summing up how reality is perspective by explaining “we should be thinking of cannabis as a medicine first, that happens to have some psychoactive properties, as many medicines do, rather than as an intoxicant that happens to have a few therapeutic properties.” Don’t believe there are currently medications which cause psychoactivity? Watch some YouTube videos of children returning home from the dentist. Cannabis is a wellness product not an intoxicant, and all cannabinoids have therapeutic healing properties, including both CBD and THC. To be clear, going an only-CBD route will reduce the effectiveness of the medicine, and lessen the beneficial results. It would be better to go with a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio than a 100% CBD-only option. Generally speaking being sick can be emotionally trying, especially in the long term, so it is bewildering to most that the emotional uplifting side-effect of cannabis is looked at in a negative light. For most patients a medicine which treats both the body and the spirit would be hugely beneficial dual-pronged approach. Ensure your medicine is a whole plant extract including all cannabinoids and terpenes, not just a CBD only formulation.

As discussed on ProjectCBD, high CBD formulations can be useful in treating diseases “including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.” One of the most well known applications of CBD is in the treatment of seizures, as we can read in written historical records going back to the 15th century, through today. GW Pharmaceuticals recently proved this fact officially in the medical world through their successful FDA blessed clinical trial. In addition to being an excellent anti-seizure agent, CBD is also anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-cancer, and analgesic. Even the United States Federal Government’s research arm, the National Cancer Institute, proclaims on their website “Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.” These studies have not been carried through into human trials due to political, not scientific roadblocks. Patients can medicate with CBD-high or CBD-dominant strains and receive true relief and healing. By keeping the correct ratio of CBD to THC, patients can medicate with a light, or completely absent mental high, while still receiving the beneficial medical effects of the cannabinoids.

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THC and CBD, along with the one hundred or so other cannabinoids found in cannabis, all have synergistic healing properties with the human body, working to help the body rebalance its endocannabinoid system. Research has shown that CBD works to mitigate the body’s intake of THC on a molecular level, preventing a Marinol-like result. Furthermore, each strain of cannabis has its own unique fingerprint of smells (terpenes) and flavors (flavonoids), which play an influencing role in the body’s interaction with the cannabinoid group, and also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system directly. It is important for each patient to find the strain of cannabis which embodies the ideal ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes for their unique body. When a patient finds their ideal ratio and dosage, they are able to medicate in the best way: rebalancing their endocannabinoid system properly without sending it off balance in a different direction.

Many in the illegal market lust after strains with high THC and barely detectable CBD, as their impetus is simply the psychoactive high. Medical cannabis patients whose deepest innermost motivations are centered on healing would not hesitate to medicate with a strain that has a higher CBD than THC content. Patients completely new to cannabis, especially those who harbor some anxiety about being able to handle being high, should medicate with strains high in CBD. The CBD will help prevent patients from getting into and anxiety state as a result of over-intake of THC.

As discussed in a previous blog post, cannabis is like a symphony orchestra, each chemical contributing to the overall synergistic effect, known in the cannabis world as the entourage effect. Medical cannabis patients are metaphorically using band members from the cannabis troupe as stand-ins in their own internal musical symphony. When a patient’s musical harmony regains its balance, it restores their ability to make beautiful music again, or in more literal terms, be balanced and healthy.

Cresco Labs offers our Remedi line including several CBD high formulations in various ingestion methods. Currently offered strains like Channel 2 and Harlequin are available in classic flower have a ratio of higher CBD to THC. In addition to flower, high CBD formulations derived from the Harlequin strain can also be ingested in capsule form, and also vaporized from a vapor cartridge or disposable pen. Remedi high-CBD Tinctures will also be added soon!

An Illinois medical cannabis patient recently commented on Facebook writing, “I used to think critical mass cbd was my mixer for fibromyalgia pain, but Harlequin has changed my mind. Might be lower content, but she works fast and amazing!.” This patient has found their ideal ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes in Harlequin!

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Be sure to purchase your medical CBD products from registered dispensaries, and not from online sellers. CBD formulations found on the internet are widely known to be of poor quality, and most miss the mark on their reported levels of CBD. The FDA recently sent out warnings to many in the industry ordering some suppliers to stop selling their products. The legal status of these CBD products found outside dispensaries is grounded in the fact that the product is extracted from hemp grown outside the United States. Hemp, is in reality, the same plant as cannabis, only difference being that hemp must have less than 0.3% THC. Also keep in mind that since industrial hemp is bred to be low-resin, large amounts of hemp must be processed to extract the CBD, which is at a low percentage in hemp. The large volume of material may be a critical flaw in this avenue, as cannabis is a bio-accumulator (meaning it draws chemicals out of the soil), so the extract may inadvertently contain toxins from the soil. Furthermore there is the question of what extraction method was used, and weather the over-the-internet, untested, unlabeled product, contains any residual solvents.

Registered Illinois medical cannabis patients are now able to legally obtain high-quality lab tested high CBD formulations from Cresco Labs through a wealth of dispensaries found across the state. Click here to find the dispensary closest to you!

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Why A High THC Percentage Does Not Matter…

Beautiful music is the summation and interaction of all the separate pieces of a musical group; the singers who tell the story through words for your mind, the band who expresses the emotional energy through sound for your ears, the stage crew who frames the group on the stage for your eyes, and the promotion group who gets the people in the seats in the first pace. Some bands may be known by their venerable rock star, like THC is for cannabis, but that rockstar would not be who they are without the backing and support of the entire band and crew. Imagine a rockstar belting a tune for five or so minutes with no backup singers, no musical instruments, on a bare dark stage. It would not be the same show! The effect that cannabis has on an individual is the summation and combined interaction of all the separate cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid chemicals found in the plant. This interaction of all the chemicals in cannabis with the human body is known as the entourage effect.

If cannabis was a musical act, THC would be the lead singer, and well known rockstar of the plant. THC’s backup singers would include other cannabinoids like CBD, CBC, CBN, and CBG. The band’s group of musicians would be rounded out with an eighty or so member sized symphony orchestra of cannabinoid chemicals, which produce a sound unique to each plant’s cannabinoid profile. The orchestra would be supported by the stage crew, which in cannabis would be the many terpenes and flavonoids. According to Whaxy, terpenes and flavonoids are “the molecules that provide cannabis with its aroma and flavor.” Along with enhancing the experience of cannabis, some of these flavor and smell chemicals can also interact directly with the endocannabinoid system themselves, acting like pickup musicians and jumping in to play a song or two with the orchestra. When not playing special sets onstage, the terpene and flavonoid crew would be responsible for the alluring clean and fresh air found in the auditorium, along with a ornate stage which frames the presentation of the musicians beautifully.

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Let’s take a quick detour for a history lesson about “pharmaceutical” cannabis! Way back in 1985 the Federal government financially backed and approved a drug, mostly known as Marinol, as a legal alternative to real cannabis. Marinol is 100% synthetic THC, and it was set as a schedule III drug when approved. It is viciously ironic for the government to quarantine cannabis from the public and medical communities as a schedule I drug, and then double-classify THC as a schedule III drug, which can be legally prescribed by doctors with appropriate and acknowledged medical use by the public. Marinol went on to be a lackluster failure of a drug, due to the fact that it got patients too high. Being “too high” is a condition in which the patient is unable to handle the mental effects of THC, and can even go so far as to result in a state of anxiety or paranoia for the patient. This application of only THC in Marinol breaks the convention of the entourage effect. By administering solely THC, the patient’s body is able to quickly absorb the chemical without any mitigating factors, leading some to be overwhelmed. When CBD is combined with THC, CBD works to buffer or meter the activity of THC with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Furthermore terpenes and flavonoids interact with cannabinoids at the blood-brain barrier and influence and affect the crossing of cannabinoids into the brain.

Imagine a rock star showing up to a hotel room without their cast and crew, having no one to influence and mitigate their passion, they brutally trash the hotel room and get the band banned from the hotel for life. Similar to this example, THC could overwhelm a patient and wreck their mental tranquility, and get itself (potentially along with cannabis), blacklisted by a Marinol patient. It would take a lot of education to help a patient overwhelmed by THC in Marinol to give whole plant cannabis another try. Similarly to the case of Marinol, it would be foolish for whole plant patients to only shop for strains of cannabis which are the highest in THC or CBD percentage. Such a patient would be missing out on the bigger picture when it comes to cannabis as a medicine. When you are shopping for strains of cannabis to meet your medical needs, think about how each member of the band will help your body make beautiful music again. Cannabis works seemingly magically to find its own way to where your body needs its help. If your body was short a metaphorical horn player in the band, cannabis would send a stand-in horn player to round out your whole band, and allow your body to make beautiful music again by functioning correctly. The horn player may come from the cannabinoid group, but without the advice from friends in the terpene and flavonoid groups, our horn player might play in the wrong key. Keep this in mind when selecting your next strain of medical cannabis. There is so much more to a strain’s profile than just the THC percentage!

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Please keep a medical cannabis journal in which you track each day’s strain, effects, and outcomes, so you can try different strains and find your ideal ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes. Each medical cannabis product will be clearly documented on its package sticker with percentages of the majority cannabinoids and terpenes. The mathematical relationship between the cannabinoids and terpenes which makeup the plant’s profile is known as its ratio. A plant with 5% THC and 1% CBD would be noted as a 5:1 ratio of THC to CBD. When you find your ideal ratio, use your ratio to identify new strains which are similar in chemical composition. As would be the case in a different strain with 10% THC and 2% CBD, still a 5:1 ratio mathematically. This new strain would have a similar effect on your body at ½ the first strain’s dosage, assuming similar terpene makeups. Furthermore your ideal cannabis would be additionally quantitatively described by the ratios of terpenes to each other, and to the cannabinoids. Use this approach to help you understand your medicine, and use the knowledge you gain about your unique ideal ratio to find other strains of cannabis which would be similar in effects for your unique body.

Look for your “ideal sound” in your next strain of cannabis in one of Illinois’ many legal medical cannabis dispensaries. Click here to find the one closest to you!

Posted In: Science

The Core Five Compounds Found in Cannabis

10, or even five years ago, marijuana was synonymous with “getting high.” But since then, research has begun to scratch the surface and emit some notable, empirical results proving the cannabis plant’s medical power. Now, we know there are at least 483 different chemical compounds in marijuana, but the effects of most are still a mystery. Yet thanks to testing results and studies, we know the most important and frequently found chemicals in cannabis–and they’re end effect on the user. The most common and prevalent of these compounds, THC, produces that psychoactive high. The rest differ and are often barely found in many strains. But when found and studied, these compounds have some superlative powers that can help a wide array of maladies now and in the future.

When you walk into a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, you will most often find these five compounds and their percentages accompanying a strain as most medical states now require testings that produce percentages of these chemical compounds. Here’s what those compounds are, what those percentages mean,  how they will impact your mind and body, and which compounds are best for your condition (s).

1. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC delivers the high, stoney effect in almost all marijuana strains.  THC’s psychoactive quality occurs when the compound is activated (lit with fie) from THCV (THC in stagnant form). The compound then binds to the cannabinoid receptors producing the common high–which is also synonymous with a runner’s high
Most modern strains range anywhere from 10-30% in THC (15-20% is industry standard), but some strains check in as low as 5% and testing numbers have been reported near 35% for strains like Alien Dawg (Alien OG x Chem Dog). If you suffer from anxiety and prefer a lighter smoke, veer towards certain strains, like Purple Kush (and the purp family) with lower THC counts and lighter impact. If you’re a frequent smoker with a high tolerance, strains with higher potency, like OGs, will be more your speed. The higher the THC percentages, the more psychoactive the strain will likely be. In addition to its high THC is an appetite suppressant with a variety of medical benefits. Some known benefits of THC are that helps fight glaucoma, forms of cancer (particularly in treatment), insomnia, PTSD, and anxiety disorders.

Strains with THC in it: nearly all.

2) CBD (Cannabidiol)


The seizure stopper and the Sorcerer’s Stone of the cannabis sphere, CBD is pure medicine. CBD has a wide range of proven medical effects, chief among them preventing seizures in epileptic children. The compound has been featured on CNN and its oils are actually legal in over 30 states. Some strains of hemp with almost zero trace of THC within are very rich in CBD. Percentages of CBD in strains range from as low as 1% (in THC-heavy strains) to as high as 25%. Strains on the lower spectrum of CBD percentage are often overshadowed by THC. Typical ratios of CBD to THC in major CBD-heavy strains are 1:1, 2:1, and 3:1. To increase these ratios and purify CBD, flowers are frequently extracted to make oils which are then in turn used to make edibles and tinctures. Oftentimes, CBD comes with a distinct, cherry flavor that’s reminiscent of cough syrup’s flavor profile. Since CBD is not psychoactive, those without ailments may find little to no effect from CBD.

Common CBD-Rich Strains: Charlotte’s Web, Cannatonic, ACDC, Harlequin, Pennywise and Spectrum

3) THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

Considered the caffeine of cannabis. THCV supplies a racy, instant jolt that shines through in certain, often Sativa strains of marijuana. Unlike cannabis’ other core compounds, THCV is actually an appetite suppressant. Like THC, THCV is psychoactive and carries trippy, elated effect. THCV must reach 428 degrees Fahrenheit to reach its activation. Amongst its medical benefits, THCV stimulates bone growth and helps Diabetes as it aids in maintaining blood sugar levels. If you want a high energy strain, look for THCV strains or ask your medical dispensary which strains may be high in it. Likewise, if you get anxious and prefer Indicas, steer clear of this compound.

THCV heavy strains include: African Hazes, Lemon G, Durban Poison, Skunk, Dutch Treat

4) CBN (Cannabinol)

A compound with less available studies and viable information, think of CBN as your CBD Light. CBN is thought to share characteristics and benefits of CBD, mainly sleep aid. The calming chemical also has shown promise as an MRSA topical. Since CBN is converted from THC, there are usually very (if any) trace amounts in most strains, typically hovering in the 1% range. But, when present, CBN values tend to appreciate over time as the longer cannabis sits around the more CBN it’s likely to produce. Thanks to modern extraction methods, scientists are fast discovering how to isolate CBN (much like CBD), making it the healthy sleep aid of the future.

5) CBG (Cannabigerol) 


The up-and-coming compound to keep an eye on, CBG has powerful potential as a recent discovery indicates that CBG may well be the parent for both THC and CBD compounds. That means we wouldn’t have THC and CBD without CBG, which eventually turns into those compounds. Like CBD, CBG has known relaxing benefits. Now being coined the “stem cell” for all other cannabinoids, CBG functions by blocking GABA and relaxing muscles.

If you don’t want to get high and are strictly using cannabis for its medical benefits, then you should look for strains with under 1% THC and only CBD, CBG, and CBN. Some hemp strains of cannabis have under .3% –which qualifies it as hemp, and is not “cannabis.”

As noted, isolating these compounds has begun in some advanced circles, and the knowledge on cannabis’ core properties and the other many compounds within should continue to broaden in the coming years!

Posted In: Science