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CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference Between CBD and THC?

thc cbd CBD

Cannabinoids are the active compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant also known as the hemp plant. Apart from the popular cannabidiol aka CBD and the delta-0-tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC, researchers have discovered more than 100 other cannabinoids that can interact and influence the human body. 

Although both THC and CBD interact with the cannabinoid receptor in the body to limit or treat the effects of certain conditions in the body, they have important differences. As hemp usage and other CBD-related products rise in popularity, consumers are concerned about choosing the right options and want to know how both CBD and THC affect how the endocannabinoid system functions.

The potential usage of CBD and THC includes treatment for the following conditions;

  • Pain
  • Cancer
  • Nausea
  • Eating disorders
  • Appetite loss
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS)
  • Tourette Syndrome

The most common difference between CBD and THC is that, unlike THC, CBD does not possess the psychotic agent that causes a high (a general idea often associated with cannabis). The aim of this article is to clearly show the distinction between CBD and THC.

CBD vs THC - The “High Effect”

Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids. However, their interaction with the cannabinoid system in the brain varies. Research shows that THC can interact and bind to the main cannabinoid receptors because it possesses a similar chemical structure to anandamide. This chemical is part of the group of cannabinoids called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids, which the body produces naturally. THC binds and interacts with these receptors because of their similar chemical structure and causes the high that most people associate with using cannabis.

On the other hand, CBD does not create the high that most people associate with using cannabis. Although a lot of study and research has been carried out to find out exactly why there is still no solid evidence as experts are still in the dark as to how CBD binds and interacts with receptors. Their summation is that CBD binds differently to THC. Instead of causing a high, CBD, instead, increases the effects of other cannabinoids and binds to other receptors in the brain that researchers are yet to uncover.

CBD vs THC – The Source

Both CBD and THC are naturally found in the cannabis or hemp plant. However, different species of cannabis plants contain different levels of cannabinoids. For example, the hemp plant – that is the Cannabis Sativa plant contains more CBD than THC. This is the difference between the hemp plant and other cannabis plants. According to the Farm Bill of 2018, C. Sativa plants that contain less than 0.3% THC are hemp. Meaning that other strains will most likely have more THC than CBD.

So, when you consume a CBD-dominant version of cannabis, you are consuming CBD from hemp.

CBD vs THC – Chemical Structure

Although CBD and THC possess different pharmacological effects and deliver different active effects, both CBD and THC have the same chemical structure. Both CBD and THC contain 30 hydrogens, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The only difference in the chemical structure is in how the atoms are arranged.

CBD vs THC – Potential Benefits

Both CBD and THC have the same effect when it comes to treating certain medical conditions. The difference between CBD and THC is in their use. While CBD is typically used to treat conditions like seizures, depression, inflammation, psychosis or mental disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and migraine, On the other hand, THC has the potential to provide treatment and relief to conditions like glaucoma, low appetite, muscle spasticity, and insomnia.

However, both CBD and THC can be used as a potential treatment for pain, nausea, and anxiety.

CBD vs THC – Side Effect

Because CBD and THC have stimulating and sedative effects based on their dosage, there are a few side effects with both. According to the FDA and WHO, CBD is safe and there is no evidence to suggest that CBD can be abused or cause harm. however, the likelihood of side effects is because CBD interacts with other medications that someone takes. There may also be an effect on male fertility and the liver.

On the other hand, a person taking THC may experience some temporary side effects like dry mouth, memory loss, issues with coordination, increased heart rate, a general feeling of highness, slower reflexes and response time, and red eyes.

There is the danger of severe psychiatric effects from getting high in teenagers because their brain is still developing. Also, large doses of THC can lead to schizophrenia (especially where they have a predisposition to the condition).

There are no serious side effects with CBD. The most common side effects are diarrhea, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, weight loss, etc. when taken correctly, CBD is not fatal. However, it should be noted that people taking THC run the risk of developing an addiction.

CBD vs THC – Ways and Forms to Take

CBD and THC are both present in the cannabis plant. There are various forms of consuming CBD and THC. CBD is available in oils, Tea, Coffee, Cream edibles like gummies, capsules, topicals, toner, and tinctures. There is a new form of taking CBD which is vape oil. THC on the other hand come in smokable products, edibles like brownies, oils, and tinctures.                                                                                  

CBD vs THC – Similarities and Differences

The table below summarizes some of the similarities and differences between these cannabinoids, CBD and THC





Is it illegal?


No – where the THC is less than 0.3%


Yes it is illegal


Does it produce a high?







Does it interact with the endocannabinoid system?



Yes. it does


Yes. It does


Does it have side effects?


Yes. It has mild side effects, and none is fatal as long as it is taken in the right dosage


THC has a psychoactive side effect and can develop an addiction.




Does it show on a drug test?


If it has traces of THC, there is a possibility


Yes. It will definitely show on a drug test



Does it relieve pain?







Does it relieve nausea?







Does it ease migraine?







Does it reduce anxiety?







Does it ease depression?







Does it reduce seizures?







Does it have anti-inflammatory properties?








Does it help with insomnia?







Does it help with psychosis?








Does it increase appetite?







Can it be used for various conditions?








CBD vs THC – Conclusion

Both CBD and THC are of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Although they are similar in structure and have the potential for helping to treat some conditions, the important difference is that THC is illegal and it can cause a psychoactive reaction in people, while CBD will not.

Before you decide to use CBD and THC, you should speak with a medical practitioner, especially if you are on another medication. Also, ensure to check out the state law before hopping on CBD or THC.