What Is The Difference Between THC and CBD?

Posted: 10th May 2019
What Is The Difference Between THC and CBD?

What is The Difference Between THC and CBD?

THC and CBD are two natural compounds found in the plants of the Cannabis genus. CBD is typically extracted from the Hemp plant for CBD based products and THC is typically extracted from the Marijuana plant for THC based products.

The main difference between both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) is that despite their similar chemical structures, they don’t possess the same psychoactive effects. In fact CBD is a non-psychoactive compound and therefore does not cause a “high” which is a typical characteristic of THC.


THC and CBD are known as “cannabinoids” and both compounds are chemically similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids and therefore when you consume these cannabinoids, it will trigger the cannabinoid receptors in your Endocannabinoid System. However both have very different effects.

Cannabinoids and other components of the cannabis plant have been determined to modulate many physiological issues in the human body and brain.

THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and this, results in one experiencing a high or going into a euphoric state of mind. On the contrary, CBD binds very weakly if at all to the cannabinoid receptors. In fact CBD can counter the negative effects of THC and dampen the psychoactive effects. Therefore despite the fact that both CBD and THC possess the same medical benefits, many people prefer the use of CBD because of the lack of side effects that THC normally causes.

Despite the fact that there are over 100 cannabinoids identified in the Cannabis plant, its THC and CBD that has been most researched and studied.

What is THC?

THC is the reason behind most of Marijuana’s psychological effects as it possesses the principal psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

When this compound is broken down by heat and ingested into the body, it stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, which causes a mind altering effect whereby one goes into a state of euphoria (“high”). This compound can be consumed either by smoking parts of the plant or adding into cooked food.

-National Institute on Drug Abuse

What is CBD?

CBD is not psychoactive and therefore does not possess mind-altering (going on a ‘high’) effects that marijuana has. In other words it does not change the state of mind of those using it.  On the contrary CBD possesses a wide range of health benefits as it interacts on a cellular level with every system of the human body.

More than 20,000 scientific studies on cannabinoids published worldwide, has stated that the CBD oil may possess the prospective to protect brain cells, treat cancer related symptoms, seizures related to epilepsy, anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, addictions and pain management.

Does CBD Get You High?

The simple and straightforward answer is , No. It actually helps relax the body and mind without any of the effects of THC.  In fact it actually counteracts the high effects of THC. It blocks or modulates the intoxicating effects of THC. It is the THC (which is the main psychoactive component present in the Marijuana plant) that causes one to get ‘high’. One could call CBD as the ‘straight-edged cousin’ to THC.

So in other words one could say that taking CBD decreases the negative side effects that THC could have caused in a person; such as anxiety and paranoia.  Taking CBD helps relieve any tension in your body and helps you to relax; and does not cause any feelings of intoxication or the ‘high’ which is characteristically associated with cannabis. Your focus will remain stable and you will be able to get about your daily routines unhindered and unconstrained. Therefore CBD can be consumed during the daytime, unlike THC which can obstruct and restrict your ability to function normally.

CBD Extracted From Hemp

WHat is the differnce between hemp and marijuana

Both Hemp and Marijuana belong to the same plant family; Cannabis Sativa. However they are different in their properties. The defining characteristic between the two is based on one sole factor; the amount of THC in the plant or rather whether it will get the user ‘high’.

Most CBD is extracted from Hemp, the least processed form of the cannabis plant. Hemp is a fast growing low impact crop and is harvested on farms around the world. It is considered environmentally friendly and perfect for organic farming and as such is a popular crop in the UK now. It requires only moderate quantities of fertilisers   and no pesticides or herbicides are required at all; it is frost tolerant and requires only moderate irrigation which makes it a sustainable easy crop to farm. It has been recorded that hemp was used to make clothes and feed people since 8,000 BC.

Although both Hemp and Marijuana can appear alike, both consist of very different effects and usages. Marijuana is a single species within the cannabis sativa family that has been mainly artificially hybridised and cultivated. This therefore clearly defines that hemp is genetically distinct from marijuana. And the specific kind of hemp being used for CBD products is legal to harvest and the CBD products that we sell do not contain the intoxicating high levels of THC present in marijuana.

Both hemp and marijuana can produce high amounts of CBD, which is the non-intoxicating cannabis compound; however THC is produced at very different levels. It has to be noted that whist hemp can contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, in contrast marijuana contains up to 30% of THC content.

The differences between cbd and thc

We identified above that both cannabinoids, CBD and THC are present in both hemp and marijuana albeit in different percentages. We also identified that these components interact with the endocannabinoid system, but there are some important differences to make note of.

Both CBD and THC interact with different receptors of the human brain.

CBD dominant Medical marijuana does not make a person feel ‘high’ and has very minimal THC component in the medication. However THC dominant medical marijuana will cause the person to experience a high when consuming the medication

However when a person takes CBD dominant version of ‘medical marijuana’, although that is what it is called, they are actually using CBD from Hemp

The THC in THC dominant medical marijuana is extracted from the marijuana plant

What are the benefits of cbd and thc?

CBD and THC possess similar effects for treating medical conditions, although there are some differences in the uses of both substances

CBD usage:
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Seizures ( contains Neuroprotective Properties)
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Psychosis (Anti-Psychotic effects) and other Mental Disorders
  • Migraines
  • Alleviate Cancer related Symptoms
  • Reduce Acne
  • Benefits Heart Health
  • Diabetes Prevention
  • Anti-Tumour Effects
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
THC as (Medical Marijuana) usage
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle Spasticity
  • Low appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Anorexia and Cachexia
  • Movement Disorders
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Dependency and Withdrawal
Both CBD and THC (used as medical Marijuana) usage
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea


CBD vs thc: side effects

CBD does not have known side effects. According to WHO (World Health organisation), CBD is safe even when consumed in large quantities. The only issue to be mindful of is that this could disagree with other medications the person may be taking.

A person taking THC may experience the following side effects. These side effects are part of the psychoactive properties consisting in THC
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Slower than average response times
  • A general feeling of being ‘high’
  • Memory loss
  • Issues with coordination
  • Increased heart rate

Teenagers may experience adverse psychiatric behaviour and this could be as a result of their brains not being fully developed as yet.

Research has identified that consumption of large doses of THC increases the risk of developing Schizophrenia, specifically where some persons may have already been diagnosed with the possibility of similar or like condition.

Neither, CBD or THC has been known to have any fatal after effects if taken correctly. Also those people who consume THC (smoking marijuana) recreationally are said to have little risk of developing an addiction to it.

CBD vs thc: chemical structure

Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular formula (C21H30O2); containing 21 Carbon Atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. However, structurally there is one significant difference. THC contains a cyclic ring, whereby CBD contains a hydroxyl group. It is this slight difference in the molecular structure in how the atoms are arranged that accounts for the entirely different pharmacological properties in the 2 compounds and has differing effects on your body

This interaction releases neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that relay messages between cells and are responsible for pain, immune function, stress, sleep etc.

Both CBD and THC are chemically similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids. This allows the CBD and THC to interact with your CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.

Both CBD and THC have low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents, particularly lipids and alcohol.

Both CBD and THC are present in cannabis in a mixture of acidic forms. Upon heating these are chemically altered and de-carboxylated. This is why smoking cannabis is the most common form of consuming THC. Also THC binds to glass and plastic and hence THC preparations are typically stored in organic solvents in silicate glassware to avoid loss.

CBD vs thc: psychoactive components

Despite the similar chemical structures of both CBD and THC, they don’t possess the same psychoactive effects. In fact CBD is clearly a non-psychoactive compound which means it does not produce a ‘high’ when consumed. On the contrary consumption of the THC compound causes the user to go into a euphoric state of mind or go on a ‘high’.

This is because THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain. THC stimulates the CB1 receptor leading to the psychotropic effects experienced when consuming cannabis.

CBD on the other hand is classified as a negative allosteric modulator ofCB1, which means that it alters the shape of the CB1 receptor quite effectively. The fact that CBD does not bind or if at all, binds very weakly to, nor does it stimulate, CB1 receptors, is also the reason it does not produce the psychotropic effects typical of THC. In fact it can interfere with the binding of THC and dampen its psychoactive effects

CBD vs thc: medical benefits

CBD and THC have many of the same medical benefits. Both compounds can provide relief from same ailments and conditions. However CBD does not cause the ‘high’ that occurs with THC and as such many people prefer the usage of CBD based products as opposed to THC based products because of this side effect.

It is interesting to make note that in June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration, approved Trusted Source Epidiolex, the first prescription medication to contain CBD. This is used for rare and difficult to control types of epilepsy.

Medical Uses of CBD
  • Anti-seizure
  • Anti –inflammatory
  • Analgesic for pain
  • Anti-tumor effects
  • Anti-psychotic
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Nausea
Medical Uses for THC
  • Analgesic for pain
  • Anti-nauseant
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Reduces Glaucoma
  • Sleep aid
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Muscular spasticity
  • Insomnia