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The Cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids which include; CBD, CBN, CBC, THC, THCa, THCv and others.

Amongst these cannabinoids, CBD and THC are the most researched because of their therapeutic benefits for various health conditions.

CBD and THC are referred to as phytocannabinoids because they’re plant-based or derived from plant sources.

Though there are similarities in their effects, lots of differences exist between these two phytocannabinoids.

In this article, we go over the differences between CBD and THC. To help you get a better understanding of what they are and their effects on the body.


CBD vs THC Psychoactive Nature

CBD stands for Cannabidiol while THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).

The primary difference between CBD and THC is their psychoactive nature.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC):

Similar to cannabinoids produced within the body (endocannabinoids), THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system.

Researchers suggest THC has a high affinity for the CB1 receptors and modulates the activity of neurotransmitters within the brain and nervous system.

THC activates the brain’s reward system and causes the excessive release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which plays an important role in mood regulation and pleasure.

It accounts for THC’s intoxicating effects and is responsible for the intense feeling of euphoria that comes from smoking marijuana.

Cannabidiol (CBD):

CBD on the other hand, interacts with the endocannabinoid system differently and doesn’t get one high because it is non-psychoactive.

Some researchers suggest that CBD may help to delay the breakdown of other cannabinoids, thus increasing their overall effectiveness.

Studies show that CBD has a low affinity for the CB1 receptors and may lessen the psychoactive effects of THC by suppressing its CB1 activating properties.

Though CBD and THC have the same number of atoms in their molecular structure, they are arranged differently.

The slight differences in arrangements bring about differences in their psychoactive nature.

Cannabis Strains Sourced From Hemp (CBD) vs Marijuana (THC)

Cannabis Leaf

CBD and THC are sourced from two types of the cannabis plant; marijuana and hemp.

Marijuana is a type of cannabis plant grown primarily for recreational purposes and its cultivation remains illegal in most countries.

It is because marijuana contains high THC contents between 10-30% of whole plant extracts.

It is administered by smoking and abused because of high THC levels and low CBD levels.

Hemp, on the other hand, is a type of cannabis plant that contains high levels of CBD and low levels of THC.

CBD-rich extracts derived from hemp plants are made into CBD Oil because of their high CBD yield.

For hemp cultivation to remain legal, the law requires hemp strains to contain less than 0.3% THC.

Hemp is also grown industrially as a great source of fibre for textile and building materials.

CBD Oil vs THC Oil: What is the Difference?

Plant extracts are gotten from both hemp and marijuana then made into their respective products.

CBD Oil:

CBD Oil is derived when whole-plant extracts, sourced from CBD-rich hemp plants are obtained and dissolved in carrier oils e.g hemp seed oil or coconut oil.

It is then sold in bottled tinctures at different concentrations as CBD Oil or infused in other products like creams, coffee and gummies.

For CBD Oil to be considered legal, it is required by law to be sourced from the hemp plant which contains negligible amounts (less than 0.3%) of THC.

THC Oil:

Sourced and extracted from marijuana, THC Oil is intended to contain high amounts of THC enough to cause intoxicating effects.

It is illegal in most countries and also referred to as cannabis oil.

THC is dissolved in carrier oils and sold off in bottled tinctures or capsules as THC Oil.

When purchasing CBD products, it is advised to buy from trusted manufacturers that carry out third-party testing and provide a certificate of analysis.

This makes it easy to know the CBD-THC ratio of products you’re buying and avoid possible side effects caused by THC contamination.

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CBD vs THC Therapeutic Benefits

In 1998, scientists suggested a theory known as the Entourage Effect – where the combined effects of cannabinoids enhance their overall effectiveness.

Simply put, when cannabinoids combine (CBD and THC) they work in synergy to produce better results.

CBD and THC have lots of similarities when it comes to their health benefits.

Studies show that THC has twenty times more anti-inflammatory properties than aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.

Similarly, CBD is also known to possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties.

This is why health care providers may recommend taking medical marijuana or CBD supplements to help with pain management.

CBD and THC are also known to help with relief from symptoms of cancer, nausea, eases of migraine and other health conditions.

Find out more about the health benefits of CBD

CBD vs THC Side Effects

Due to differences in body chemistry, one may or may not experience side effects when taking CBD.

Although, it’s not out of place to experience mild side effects like fatigue, weight loss, dizziness or appetite changes.

These mild side effects usually last for short periods and scientists attribute it to a period of detoxification.

Learn more about the safety warnings and drug interactions with CBD

The benefits of THC comes with its drawbacks and risks as high doses have been connected to long-term negative psychiatric effects.

Some side effects of THC include; increased heart rate, slower reaction time, coordination problems and cognitive impairments.

Further studies also reveal the possibility of severe side effects caused by drug interactions and THC contamination.

CBD is relatively safe and research suggests that high doses of up to 1500mg of CBD per day is well tolerated in humans.

However, it’s advised to speak with your healthcare provider or qualified cannabis specialist before getting started with CBD or THC supplements.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About CBD and THC

With lots of misinformation out there it’s difficult to separate facts from fiction or gimmicks by companies trying to make a quick buck.

In this section, we answer some questions and straighten out misconceptions about CBD and THC.

Is CBD or THC Good For Anxiety?

CBD can be recommended to help reduce anxiety, THC on the other hand worsens it and could heighten paranoia.

Studies show that CBD has anxiety-reducing effects while THC has anxiety-inducing effects on people.

Is CBD or THC Better For Pain?

CBD and THC are known to possess potent anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties.

However certain studies have shown THC having more effects on pain management than traditional pain relief medications.

Will CBD or THC Show Up On Drug Tests?

It’s unlikely for CBD to show up for drug tests since standard drug tests are made to detect THC or related chemicals.

THC and CBD get stored up in body fats and may likely show up on drug tests for extended periods after use.


Studies on the effects of CBD and THC on humans are still in their infant stages as hemp only became legal federally until 2018.

Through animal studies and personal testimonies, we see the potentials of phytocannabinoids in providing relief from several health conditions.

As research on the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids keeps unfolding, we predict more cannabinoids coming into the limelight.

Ensure to speak with your healthcare provider or a qualified cannabis specialist, before getting started with CBD or THC supplement.

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Share your experiences of CBD in the comment section below, feel free to ask questions and I’d be sure to reply to you.

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