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What Is the Difference Between THC and CBD?

THC and CBD share some similarities, but there are key differences that make CBD an viable therapeutic option for a wider variety of people.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant, most commonly known as cannabis.

Both of these substances interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body and brain, but they differed dramatically in their effects.

CBD is non-psychoactive which means that it will not get the user high. Because of this trait, CBD appears more frequently than THC in dietary and natural supplements.

Read also: What is CBD?

What is THC?

THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. In other words, THC is the primary agent responsible for creating the ‘high’ associated with recreational cannabis use.

This compound works, in part, by mimicking the effects of anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters are produced naturally by the human body and help to modulate sleeping and eating habits, the perception of pain, and countless other bodily functions.

The effects of THC include:

  • Relaxation
  • Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Reduced aggression

What Are the Natural Benefits of THC?

Research studies indicate that THC may useful in helping with:

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol is one of the most critical cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant. It exists both in agricultural hemp, as well as medical cannabis. While cannabinoids are present within several plants in nature, cannabis is the only plant known to contain CBD.

CBD has the same chemical formula as THC, with the atoms in a different arrangement.

This slight variance causes THC to create a psychoactive effect, while CBD does not. This fact means that when you ingest CBD for medical purposes, you will more likely experience a relief of your unwanted discomfort, with little or no noticeable effect on your cognitive abilities.

What Are the Medical Benefits of CBD?

Research studies indicate that CBD may be useful in helping with:

CBD vs. THC for Pain

Research suggests CBD may be better for inflammation and neuropathic pain, while THC may excel with spasticity and cramp-related pain.

It is worth noting that sometimes high doses of THC can exacerbate pain symptoms.[S] Meaning THC consumed in this capacity should be done in small amounts.

Additionally, many individuals experience difficulty managing the side effects associated with THC, rendering useless any potential benefits.

Some experts suggest that a combination of THC and CBD is the ideal way to approach pain, giving validity to something known as the entourage effect.

CBD and THC

What Is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect describes a phenomenon in which the 400+ compounds in cannabis work together to create a particular effect on the body. [S]

For example, 100mg of isolated CBD may be substantially less effective at alleviating symptoms than 100mgs of a whole-plant, CBD-containing cannabis extract. Many argue that consuming the plant in its whole form provides all the necessary cofactors to facilitate proper absorption.

Different components within the cannabis plant work synergistically together and as a result, have a much stronger effect than any one of those components alone.

So when combining several compounds, the result is more than the sum of each part. Instead, there is a multiplying effect. 

Take CBD and THC as an example. CBD is known to modulate the effect of THC on the human body. Formulations that contain roughly equal amounts of THC and CBD are most effective for pain relief.[S

There is no hard science (yet!)  when it comes to the theory of the entourage effect. It is up to each individual to decide which option is best for them.

Why does CBD see more usage than THC in natural supplements?

THC is an illegal drug with considerable immediate and long-term cognitive side effects. These include impaired thinking and reasoning, a reduced ability to plan and organize, altered decision-making, and reduced control over impulses.

Also, chronic use of THC correlates with significant abnormalities in the heart and brain.

CBD lacks the harmful cognitive effects of THC. In fact, CBD can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

Cannabis plants containing small amounts of CBD and high levels of THC result in a stronger ‘stoned’ feeling, while plants with more CBD and less THC create a weaker, more relaxed, effect.

Given the increasing popularity of medical cannabis, breeders are currently creating strains with higher CBD to THC ratios to minimize the psychoactive side effects.

Overall, the lower health risks of CBD, combined with its efficacy, make it a better candidate for natural applications than THC.

+ 17 sources

Sources:

  1. D.I. Abrams, MD (2016) Integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791148/
  2. Thorsten Rudroff et al. (2017) Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis—The Way Forward - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481305/
  3. Jeannie Wraight et al. (2015) Could Cannabis Treat HIV? - Pride Publishing Inc. https://www.hivplusmag.com/treatment/2015/02/24/could-cannabis-treat-hiv
  4. Gregory T. Carter, MD 2014 Spinal Cord Injury Wellness Summit - University of Washington https://sci.washington.edu/summit2014/medical_marijuana.asp
  5. Linda A Parker et al. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/
  6. Prakash Nagarkatti et al. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
  7. Hemant Goyal et al. Role of cannabis in digestive disorders - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27792038/
  8. Wei Xiong et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/
  9. Anna Maria Malfitano et al. Cannabinoids in the management of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2626929/
  10. Kevin P. Hill et al. (2017) Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549367/
  11. Mark Wallace, M.D (2007) Dose-dependent Effects of Smoked Cannabis on Capsaicin-induced Pain and Hyperalgesia in Healthy Volunteers - American Society of Anesthesiologists https://pubs.asahq.org/anesthesiology/article/107/5/785/7080/Dose-dependent-Effects-of-Smoked-Cannabis-on
  12. Natalya M. Kogan, MSc et al. Cannabinoids in health and disease - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202504/
  13. Ethan B Russo Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
  14. Michael A Überall (2020) A Review of Scientific Evidence for THC:CBD Oromucosal Spray (Nabiximols) in the Management of Chronic Pain - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7027889/
  15. Nora D. Volkow, M.D. et al. Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827335/
  16. Hemant Goyal et al. Role of cannabis in cardiovascular disorders - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5542986/
  17. Raymond J. M. Niesink et al. (2013) Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC? - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797438/

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66 responses to “What Is the Difference Between THC and CBD?”

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  2. Avatar ONLYX RITA LAZ says:

     READ PLEASE

    My vision was blurred for three months. I had closed my fingers in my front door without realizing it. I knew then something was wrong. I called my primary doctor who examined me and then sent me to the hospital. An MRI was performed and I was diagnosed with MS. I have been on WorldHerbsClinic, MS HERBAL FORMULA  for two month plus now, all my symptoms has decline completely, i feel normal again, but i have few weeks left completing the treatment.

  3. Avatar Soft Gel Manufacturing says:

    Hi, thank you for such a brilliant post. I have been reading some blogs that gives me more knowledge about this topic thc cbd. I must say this is one of the best among them. You have done a great research for I feel, thanks for sharing.This Gembrahealth.com is very useful and its related to what you have actually mentioned here.

  4. Avatar how much cbd oil should i give my dog says:

    Super interesting.

  5. Avatar gashouseweed says:

    Very nice post and before reading this i never know about the CBD oil. i did not know that i just heard about it. But today i am very happy to know that it is very useful for cancer. It seems to be a great natural alternative to habit-forming prescription medication. dank weed/a>

  6. Avatar Joe T. Pleasants says:

    Thanks for the clear information of this product. i sure do appreciate it .

  7. Avatar Debbie C says:

    Well said!! Mental picture made me laugh….

  8. Avatar Debbie C says:

    Up your dose. Mine is thc and within 30 minutes I’m out and sleep right till morning

  9. Avatar Pamela Parker says:

    While uses medical marijuana, always take advice and guidance from a doctor.It is the safest way to take medical marijuana. The basic rule for dosing medical marijuana is to start with a low dose. Many patients are more comfortable with oral administration of medical marijuana.Need to take extra care for those.
    Consult the advice of your physician if you are a long-term user of medical marijuana and intend to stop using it.
    https://www.addictionrehabcenters.com/addiction-treatment/marijuana-addiction-treatment-and-rehabilitation/

  10. Avatar cbdgod says:

    I’m not sure but I would guess “not detected”

  11. Avatar Tiana says:

    i hope you do not mind me replying. i use melatonin, which is natural, to help me sleep and it works . i have anxiety and insomnia and it helps me. i hope that was helpful for you. i know it is not on cbd or thc topic but wanted to be helpful.

  12. Avatar Amy Anderson says:

    Love when people educate others on CBD – good read and great article!

  13. Avatar Tammy Vogelgesang says:

    ND THC means that THC is NON-DETECT…THC is not present.

  14. Avatar Cheryl K. says:

    Hello, I did really appreciate your article, which is a valuable review for oil vaporizer, nevertheless if I were you I would probably add more videos, do you know this page http://vapes.stream? I assume you’ll find video reviews on oil vaporizer stuffs, and true comments, not so bad at the end

  15. Avatar Karina says:

    How can I cite this article?

  16. Avatar Debbie Bransford says:

    What is Terra oils and does it have THC or CBD in it? Thanks

  17. Avatar Christian says:

    Really CBD oil , medical marijuana is useful for health.

  18. Avatar Doogie says:

    Get the THC oil if you want to live, go see Rick Simpson!!!

  19. Avatar Tim Larson says:

    Maybe “NO THC”? Who is a manufacturer?

  20. Avatar Jan says:

    I’m so sorry!? My sister has had 3 spots removed and came back melanoma. She caught it in time. ??doTerra oils. I have many stories how these organic oils healed people. God put these on the earth for our healing. God Bless you

  21. Avatar Jan says:

    I’m really sorry it didn’t work for you! I bet you didn’t have any problems eating. Very good for a lot of reasons. One big one being able to eat without getting sick.

  22. Avatar Natalia Chorew says:

    I too have migraines. How long did you use the 5mg before going higher. I pretty much get mine at around 3am so I think would just need to take at bedtime or is it something that needs to be in your system to be effective at 3am, too by spreading dosage out throughout the day?

  23. Avatar TJ Judson says:

    I think you have to see what works for you. I use edibles, because to prevent a daily migraine, I need long lasting effect. If no experience, I’d start w 5mg THC edible. If that goes OK, try 10mg. I presently take about 25mg of THC gummies spread over several hours. But if I think I feel a migraine coming on, I’ve been experimenting with a high CBD oil (20:1 CBD to THC). Hold several drops under tongue for *1 minute*. You should feel a calmness start in 10-15 minutes. If not, try more. Not much downside of “over dosing” CBD.

    Good Luck!

  24. Avatar TJ Judson says:

    Susan Wesley, I get exertion migraines that happen to be closely related to epilepsy (an epilepsy drug even helps with my migraine prevention).

    Edible pot works for me – 90-95% of the time. I hope you keep experimenting and find relief. I’ve been using for 7 months:
    (1) Try high CBD and take a big dose. I think I’ve done 25mg or 50mg on occasion.
    (2) Also try with THC, I eat maybe 25mg over several hours. I *think* THC works better, but it impacts regular life a bit for me taking that much.
    (3) Sounds weird, but this is almost guaranteed to help… try keto diet for 2 weeks. Eat less than 20g of carbs. This is a known treatment for childhood epilepsy, where drugs don’t help or can’t be used. A migraine doc did an experiment with migraine suffers on keto too & it made a 50% reduction in episodes. I read his research paper and tried it. I got a huge benefit. And the benefit somewhat lasted for months, even though I stopped keto after 3 weeks. I’ve since reverted to almost daily migraines unfortunately. I’m now gearing up to try keto again for a couple weeks.

    Good luck!

  25. Avatar Susan Wesley says:

    I took medical marijuana with No good results! I have epilepsy (drug resistant) For 57 years nothing has helped!!! My name is Susan Wesley

  26. Avatar Michael Perez says:

    I couldn’t have stated it better myself. Well said.

  27. Avatar MN says:

    We use “La Familia” Chocolate edibles. They have serveral flavors available. I love “Menta”. The chocolate is sooo smooth. I take half of a dose and let it melt in my mouth. Within 30 minutes you are able to focus on all touches and feels. It has enhanced our sex life 1000%!!!! I highly recommend it.

  28. Avatar Chandler says:

    I am looking for something for aches, pains and weight loss, what kind of oil do you recommend? I suffer with pain every day of my life.I take pain pills, but it’s not doing the job it use to. I have to take a urine test every time, before they will keep giving me pain pills. Will these oils you have been talking about, show up in my urine? If so I want get my pain pills.Waiting to hear from you real soon.

  29. Avatar Melusine says:

    My son has pyschotic episodes and is usually reluctant to take medications prescribed by psychiatrists, and definitely refuses to submit to an ongoing treatment to prevent the recurrence of episodes.

    Does anyone know where can I find information about the use of CBD in treating/preventing psychotic episodes?

  30. Avatar Tessa says:

    Yes, definitely. My brother had a stroke back in 2010 he is now 49. He had to learn to walk/talk/eat and then was hospital bound with cirrhosis of the liver. He has always been an alcoholic and we just couldn’t reach him. Mother watched him waste away and us sisters couldn’t help. Doctors said to put him in hospice. We decided to bring him home to die, against all odds and pure love/faith/prayers I am happy to report he is ALIVE living a sober life, taking care of my 81 year old mother now but they are both in lot of pain. He drags his leg, numerous scans/mri’s and they say he needs back surgery or he won’t walk again. What do you recommend so we don’t have to do this route?

  31. Avatar Meredith says:

    I wake up with them sometimes too. I HATE to sound like I’m being vague, but it REALLY does depends on the strength that works best for YOUR BODY
    .

  32. Avatar Meredith says:

    Yes, Inflammation is EXACTLY what CBD targets. Inflammation in the body is the root cause for every ailment & disease in the human body!

  33. Avatar Meredith says:

    PureKana peppermint infused oil.

  34. Avatar Meredith W Landers says:

    PURE CBD WILL NOT. However, Full Spectrum CBD products WILL, because it has a small amount of THC in it. The first bottle I tried was GREAT, from PureKana, except for the fact I FAILED for that SMALL amount of THC!

  35. Avatar Meredith says:

    I wake up with them sometimes too. I HATE to sound like I’m being vague, but it REALLY does depend on the strength that works best for YOUR BODY. It’s suggested to start low and work your way up, until you find relief.
    .

  36. Avatar History says:

    Don’t be absurd. Willow bark (the natural version of synthetic aspirin) was made into tinctures and salves and applied topically. Rubbing an aspirin will have no effect, since it is meant to dissolve in the digestive tract. A CBD oil or rub can easily be absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream.

  37. Avatar Sandra says:

    I have stage 4 liver cancer that has gone into my lungs. Sometimes I have no pain but other times, like tonight, the pain is intolerable. I also have rheumatoid arthritis that has been flaring a lot lately. I have CBD capsules and compassion oil, what will give me the best possibility for pain relief? I took a CBD capsule about 40 minutes ago, it has eased my pain very slightly.

  38. Avatar Dave says:

    You need thc. Not cbd. I have Insomnia and thc is all the works

  39. Avatar Melissa Tenney says:

    I have been using 1200mg CBD full spectrum oil. I thought it was helping my back pain but lately my pain has returned full force. The oil I use does have .3% or less(I guess) THC. Do i need something with a little more THC or what?

  40. Avatar Linda Bishop says:

    I believe THC to be IT. I really don’t rate CBd. Rick Simpson oil is expensive but my niece has melanoma, 4th stage and it’s terminal. Who would cut corners and not try everything going in these circumstances. Do you have a high strength THC oil or any genuine advise?
    This isn’t to get high though if it was me and all else failed l suppose l’d get high and drunk asap!

  41. Avatar Marcello says:

    I purchased something that has ‘ ND THC’ on the package. What does ND mean?

  42. Avatar Johann says:

    HISTORICALLY, population of South America, China ,Africa etc etc.,have PRACTICED CANNABINOID use, in many facets of their lives. Whether impure, for purposes all understood by today’s applied scientists, this evidence, even if only historical,
    has taken so long, for the ‘sophisticated’ modern scientists to recognize, that time wasted on ‘researching or refining’ the product, may take pharmaceutical companies, law makers, another millennium before the ‘population’ is ‘legally’, given their rights to access a historically proven natural product.
    Get on with the ‘help’, and become less reliant, on the pharmaceuticals presently dished out et lib.,benefiting Their pockets at the expense of long term health of the end users. Collusion in the pharmaceutical industry will have to be monitored closely should a CANNABINOID product be launched by that industry.

  43. It’s great to know more about CBD and its benefits. I like how you said that it can help with pain management. My wife is dealing with cancer, so I’ll have to look into this for her treatment.

  44. Avatar Cannabis says:

    Very nice article!

  45. Avatar Richard says:

    THC helps you sleep not the other way around. Indica is the best for this because it also contains myrcene in the terpenoid profile, which is a mild sedative.

  46. Avatar Carl says:

    What does the ‘high’ mean? I’ve been smoking for 10 years and the whole purpose is calm/relaxation, and anti-inflammation. If that’s all CBD does then how is that different than thc? The “high” IS the calming effect… They’re no different

  47. Avatar Alex says:

    What about think CBD capsules?

  48. Avatar caren says:

    I use medical marijuana now. I have severe insomnia too. As soon as i got approved I use the indica at night. Never slept better. CBD oil can help some people with sleep.

  49. Avatar caren says:

    I use 1500mg bottle from green roads. It has helped me tremendously.

  50. Avatar Larry says:

    I’m diabetic. How is CDB oil beneficial to me?

  51. Avatar Algroulx says:

    You have to ingest it, rubbing on your skin won’t have any effect. Just like rubbing an aspirin on your forehead will not get you rid of a headache.

  52. Avatar Algroulx says:

    You need to sleep? So you need high thc “indica” like a kush strain.

  53. Avatar Peter says:

    Regarding insomnia…..maybe the presence of too much THC is the reason why the CBD oil did not give the required result. I’m a bad sleeper myself and the CBD oil works for me. I take 4 drops in the morning and 4drops when I go to bed. Also try to avoid other stimulants, such as coffee, cola, TV etc.

  54. Avatar Jeta says:

    Hello my son has got a condition which is muscle waiting in progress DMD. Which oil do you recommend and where can I found please as I already bought las week CBD in Holland and Barretes with but they don’t have the other oil.
    Please if know more can you recommend and help me to by it for my son
    Thank you
    Juliet

  55. Avatar Cecile says:

    I suffer from insomnia, I bought CBD oil with a trace of THC maybe a year ago. I tried it and did not help me sleep at all. I still have the oil and I am wondering if the strenght of THC would have lessened with the time and maybe now it would help me sleep

  56. Avatar Diana Myers says:

    I’m looking to enhance my ( lack) sexual vaginal sensitivity due to menopause, I’ve heard CBD or THC as topical may help. Can you recommend or educate me as to what to buy?

  57. Avatar A. Hernandez says:

    I suffer from anxiety, lots of stress, and have eczema and ONLY have flare ups on the top of my hands, will CBD oils help with Inflammation?

  58. Avatar Robert Lynch says:

    If someone takes CBD and is then tested for marijuana, will the CBD produce a positive marijuana outcome

  59. Avatar Maria says:

    I tried CBd oil and the rub I have fibromyalgia arthris and my joints are bad and I have not found any relief

  60. Avatar Terry says:

    I was in a car accident and have had many back surgeries and nerves cut in my leg. As a result I have a lot of pain. I also have arthritis. What you suggest?

  61. Avatar Debra says:

    What is best dose for migraines? I wake up with them

  62. Avatar Sandra says:

    I am trying to recover from 2 ankle surgeries. I am in quite a bit of pain. Dr. wont prescribe any more pain meds. What kind of oil do you recommend?

  63. Avatar Cynthia says:

    Great breakdown of the differences between these two cannabinoids, thanks for the good info!

  64. Avatar WIll B says:

    Hemp derived CBD Oil in Full Spectrum. Full spectrum has trace amounts of THC (.3% Food Grade) If you want more info you can email me direct

  65. Avatar Alice says:

    I am looking for something for aches, pains and weight loss, what kind of oil do you recommend?

  66. Avatar Margie says:

    Can a Sativa oil be detected in a urine test?

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