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  • by Nicola Boulton August 31, 2022 5 min read

    The Difference Between CBD and THC

    CBD and THC are cannabidiol with different effects on the body. The main difference between these compounds is THC is psychoactive while CBD is not psychoactive. Both compounds interact differently with the endocannabinoid system.

    THC and CBD are chemically related. They are found in the hemp plant. Experts say that combining these compounds makes them effective in treating diseases. CBD and THC have been used over the years to manage pain, inflammation, and anxiety, among other conditions. THC is the most known compound as it is abundant and causes a high feeling in marijuana users. However, this THC can be medically used without causing a high feeling.   This article will help you understand the differences between these compounds as well as the similarities.

    Differences between the Compounds

    THC is a short form of tetrahydrocannabinol, while CBD means cannabidiol. They are both derived from the same hemp plant, the cannabis sativa plant. Below are the differences between CBD and THC;


    THC is the most abundant compound, followed by CBD. Other cannabinoids in the same plant, such as CBG and CBN, are less abundant. However, CBD is more abundant in hemp, while THC is more in marijuana.

    How To Take Them

    CBD and THC can be found in the form of oil. However, many people take CBD as tinctures, while many prefer smoking THC. CBD is found in many other forms such as gummies, edibles, capsules, pills, lotions, gel, supplements, and balms.

    Psychoactive Effects

    THC is psychoactive, while CBD is not. Once you take THC, be sure to experience the high feeling. This shows that THC affects brain function. This is one of the reasons why some countries have not legalized the use of marijuana, as most people tend to misuse it. THC has a different chemical composition from CBD. This makes it interact differently with the endocannabinoid system in the body. The body has two main endocannabinoid receptors, which are CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found in the nervous system, mostly in the brain, while CB2 is in the peripheral system. THC binds on CB1, causing a high feeling. However, it may also bring desirable effects such as improving moods and alleviating pain.

    On the other hand, CBD can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. The chemical composition of CBD makes it an antagonist to CB1 receptors in the brain, preventing the euphoric effects of THC. If you ingest too much THC, the effects can be reversed by taking a CBD isolate.

    Other Side Effects

     CBD has less undesirable side effects than THC. Since THC alters the brain's functioning, one may experience adverse nausea, lack of coordination, confusion, discomfort, poor judgment, and increased fear. CBD does not alter the functioning of the brain. The only known side effects include diarrhea, changes in appetite, fatigue, and drowsiness. However, not everybody will experience these effects after taking CBD. Comparing the side effects, those of THC are serious. However, when used to treat diseases and ailments, combining THC and CBD works better than using them independently through a phenomenon known as the entourage effects.


    CBD and THC are used for different purposes. CBD is known for treating seizures in children's rare type of epilepsy. The FDA recommends using Epidiolex, a CBD drug, to treat those seizures. CBD is also effective in treating anxiety and depression, pain, mental disorders, insomnia, and nausea. On the other hand, THC is well known for its ability to treat chronic pain, glaucoma, cancer management, low appetite, and anxiety.


    Some countries have legalized the use of marijuana and all its constituents for both medical and recreational purposes. Some only allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, while others do not allow its use whatsoever. Most states in North America have legalized the medical use of marijuana. When using any of the above compounds, check the state's law on cannabis use.


    THC is likely to be addictive, while CBD is not addictive.

    Drug Test Results

    Drug tests are common today. Most employers are uncomfortable hiring workers who have not done thorough drug screening. It is also a common exercise conducted on athletes. According to Evans (2020), CBD cannot show on a drug test. Even though CBD products contain some amounts of THC, it is too low to show in a drug test. However, if you want to be safer, buy CBD products from a legitimate seller. CBD legitimate products, even the full-spectrum CBD oil, cannot make you fail a drug test. However, if you want to take a THC-free CBD product, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate are the best for you. Buy the products that have gone through third-party testing. You can be sure they are not contaminated with THC. On the other hand, taking THC will make you fail a drug test.

    Benefits of CBD

    Crippa et al. (2018) stated that CBD compounds contain various beneficial properties to your health. One of the most outstanding properties is anti-inflammatory. According to Petrosino et al. (2018), CBD's anti-inflammatory properties can help treat diseases such as arthritis and acne. CBD also contains antidepressant properties that can treat anxiety and improve sleep. CBD can also help in the management of mild and chronic pain. You can take CBD in oil, gummies, edibles, capsules, pills, or tinctures. CBD tinctures are the most common form in which CBD is taken. CBD taken as tinctures is directly absorbed into the bloodstream making its effects show up faster.

    Benefits of THC

    THC is perceived as a notorious compound. However, this compound can benefit more than harm if used responsibly. Clark, Capuzzi & Fick (2011) highlighted that some states in North America had legalized the use of marijuana due to its endless benefits. THC can be used to manage chronic pain in cancer patients. It is also effective in treating anxiety and insomnia.


    THC and CBD are different compounds found in the hemp plant. They are different in chemical structure, use, legality, and abundance. However, these compounds are complementary. CBD can counteract the effects of THC. Combining them also increases their effectiveness in managing various conditions. Some perceive THC as a good-for-nothing compound, but it contains many benefits when used for medical purposes. CBD products may contain some amount of THC in negligible amounts that may not affect a drug test.


    Clark, P. A., Capuzzi, K., & Fick, C. (2011). Medical Marijuana: medical necessity versus political agenda. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 17(12), RA249.

    Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational investigation of the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD): toward a new age. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2009.

    Evans, D. G. (2020). Medical fraud, mislabeling, contamination: all common in CBD products. Missouri Medicine, 117(5), 394.

    Petrosino, S., Verde, R., Vaia, M., Allarà, M., Iuvone, T., & Di Marzo, V. (2018). Anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, in experimental allergic contact dermatitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 365(3), 652-663.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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