Life is all about balance. And when it comes to cannabis consumption, many people search out products with a balanced THC:CBD profile to experience the benefits of both cannabinoids. Most cannabis products are currently classified as sativa or indica leaning/dominant (FYI: Here’s why we think it’s time for new categories). Some are a hybrid of the two and may be referred to as ‘balanced’.
However, knowing whether your flower is indica or sativa doesn’t necessarily help consumers learn more about an expected experience, so we prefer to classify our cannabis as high-CBD, high-THC, or balanced—meaning that it has nearly equal amounts of the two cannabinoids, you can see this referred in some products as 1:1, such as our Harlequin (1:1) and Skunk Haze (2:1).
Working Together: THC and CBD
First, here’s some key information to help frame the discussion: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the most prominent phytocannabinoids of the hundreds of chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that give it its psychoactive and non-psychoactive properties.
Balanced strains offer the best of both worlds as they have the ‘intoxicating’ effects of THC with the regulation of CBD, which has been shown to reduce the potential negative effects like the anxiety sometimes associated with cannabis consumption.
CBD and THC interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) in different ways, by acting as ‘keys’ to unlock receptors that control certain functions, from sleep and memory to movement and appetite. THC binds with CB1 receptors, which are mainly found in the brain and nervous system. This can result in the feeling of being high and can also create other effects in the mind.
CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to decrease the negative side effects of THC such as paranoia or anxiety. It does this by reducing activity in the CB1 receptor that causes anxiety. CBD is also thought to increase natural cannabinoid activity by inhibiting the breakdown of the body’s own cannabinoid (anandamide) and increasing levels of the naturally euphoric chemical, sometimes called the ‘bliss molecule’ as it is responsible for feelings such as a ‘runner’s high’. CBD also appears to be able to bond with the brain’s serotonin 1A receptor, which reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Creating a Balance
During prohibition, CBD was bred out of many plants to create high-THC cannabis, resulting in many strains becoming a lot more potent than in the past. With the arrival of legalization, there was more market demand for higher CBD products, and growers began responding to this trend.
Increasingly growers are developing cultivars that showcase specific terpene profiles and feature more of a 1:1 or CBD-dominant balance, which appeals to new consumers, micro-dosers, and connoisseurs alike. While many people still look for higher levels of THC, the trend for increasingly low potency products has opened up a new market and now more research is being done into the therapeutic benefits of CBD and its ability to interact with THC to remove some of the negative effects that may be off-putting for some potential cannabis consumers.
CBD is finally having its moment, and instead of breeding it out to make way for THC, growers are purposefully creating high-CBD cultivars. Historically, THC was seen as the prized cannabinoid and was the one that was most desired for its impairing effects. As more medical patients began looking for cannabis that could be consumed on a daily basis, cultivars such as Cannatonic began to increase in popularity. Seen as the strain that put CBD on the map back in 2008, when it was released at a Spanish trade show called Spannabis, Cannatonic can also have a high-THC phenotype but is generally a high-CBD varitial.
Now, CBD is the darling of the global wellness world - and in other countries you’ll find it in topicals and beverages that are marketed to have therapeutic benefits. Here in Canada, it can be found in flower and oils, and from October 2019 it’ll be available in edibles, extracts, concentrates, and topicals too.
Balanced products take the intoxicating aspects of THC and combine them with the THC regulating properties of CBD to create an experience that has the best of both worlds.