CBD vs. THC: Differences, Benefits, and Effects

Written by on September 6, 2019 in Healing & Natural Remedies, Health, Herbs, Seeds & Spices with 0 Comments

As people continue looking for a more natural approach to deal with chronic health conditions, cannabinoids such as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are becoming increasingly popular.

This is because, research has continuously exhibited these compounds as very beneficial and helpful natural remedies against an array of many health conditions including but not limited to chronic pain, muscle spasms, cancer symptoms, anxiety, and depression.

Unknown to many, although these compounds come from the same plant, they are very different as far as their effects on the human body, chemical composition, and even legality are concerned.

In this post, we will let you know what cannabinoids are, the differences between THC and CBD as well as their benefits and effects.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids refer to the over 120+ chemical compounds existing naturally in the cannabis plant. These compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human body to bring about various effects such as pain relief.

The most popular or well-understood cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

As already mentioned, both THC and CBD exist naturally in the cannabis plant. What you may not know, however, is that cannabis can either be classified into hemp or marijuana.

What is the difference? You ask.

Hemp is described as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. On the other hand, marijuana is described as cannabis, with more than 0.3% THC.

So in short, CBD is more concentrated in the hemp plant while THC is more concentrated in the marijuana plant.


So far, we have not mentioned anything that helps us differentiate CBD from THC.

The main difference between the two compounds is psychoactivity. It turns out that, the high effect associated with the cannabis plant is a result of THC.

On the other hand, CBD or cannabidiol has zero mind-altering effects and hence an ideal option for anyone wishing to try cannabis without getting high.

According to experts, tetrahydrocannabinol binds with the CB1 receptors found in the human brain bringing about the euphoric effect associated with the marijuana plant.

On the other hand, Cannabidiol, yes, binds with the CB1 receptors, but very weakly. As a result, CBD has no mind-altering effects. Some experts actually suggest that CBD can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD vs. THC: Chemical Composition

A very interesting thing to note here; although these two compounds have different effects on the human body, they have the exact same chemical makeup.

Ie, 21 carbon atoms, 20 hydrogen, and two oxygen atoms.

What makes the two compounds different is the arrangement of these atoms. This is illustrated in the following diagram:

Amazing how such a minor difference can make all the difference!

CBD vs. THC: How Each compound Affects The Human Body

As aforementioned, although both THC and CBD bind to the CB2 receptor, they interact or impact the CB1 receptors differently.

The THC’s molecular structure allows it to directly bind with the CB1 receptors. This creates a bond that results in chemical signals being sent to the human brain. This is how you get high after consuming marijuana products.

On the other hand, Cannabidiol does not directly bind to the CB1 receptors and hence, does not cause any ‘high’ effect.

Although THC has a lot of health benefits, not everyone is comfortable with its psychoactive effect. This is where CBD comes in to save the day.

CBD vs. THC: Legality

The legality of cannabis products is still faced with a lot of controversies. This is because different states and countries have different laws regulating the use and possession of various cannabis products.

In the US, for instance, while hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 US states, marijuana products are legal in only a few states and completely illegal according to federal law.

So the question of legality really depends on where you are. Make sure you are conversant with the law regulating the use of cannabis products in your location to avoid getting on the wrong side of the authorities.

THC vs. CBD: Health Benefits

Although the two compounds impact the body differently, many of their health benefits are the same.

However, it is not up to a mid-last year that the 1st cannabis-based drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug’s name is Epidiolex which contains CBD and is used in treating rare forms of epilepsy.

CBD is said to be helpful in the treatment of conditions such as seizures, chronic pain, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, mental disorders, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, depression, and muscle spasms.

On the other hand, THC is popular for its hand in treating conditions such as pain, glaucoma, muscle spasticity, low appetite, insomnia, and anxiety.

So the choice between CBD and THC for medical use comes down to personal preference as well as the legality of these products in a given locality.

THC vs. CBD: Side Effects

At the moment, no research has linked CBD to any severe side effects. However, some side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, have been reported. According to experts, this is mostly due to the interactions between Cannabidiol and other drugs or medications.

On the other hand, Tetrahydrocannabinol is known to cause short-term side effects such as coordination problems, increased heart rate, red eyes, dry mouth, and memory loss.

THC’s side effects are connected to its psychoactive properties.

THC vs. CBD: Wrapping Up

It is clear that although the two compounds share a lot of similarities, they are also very different in molecular makeup, side effects and even before the law.

However, we cannot say that compound A is better than compound B. This is because both CBD and THC are very beneficial to human health and either of them could come in handy depending on the situation.

While some people would never welcome the high effect associated with THC, others find it helpful. It all comes down to your personal needs and preferences.

It is expected that as more findings on the benefits of cannabinoids come to light, more countries will continue legalizing both CBD and THC.

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