CBD vs. THC – What’s The Difference?

CBD vs. THC – What’s The Difference?
You’ve probably heard and read about medical marijuana and its possible health benefits. The active components of cannabis are THC and CBD. What are they and how they can affect your body?
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Medical marijuana has 104 different types of cannabinoids. They all interact differently with your body. The best-known ones are CBD and THC. These are called phytocannabinoids, i.e. cannabinoids found in plants, to distinguish them from endocannabinoids–those produced naturally in your body.

However, while they may come from the same plant, CBD and THC offer drastically different effects.

There are many claimed benefits of THC and CBD. This article compares them side-by-side.

However, it’s important to note that these benefits have not been proven by a regulatory body. All the benefits stated here are based on several studies conducted on the effects of THC and CBD by researchers and organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

What Is THC?

THC is short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. It is a compound found in the resin extracted from the cannabis plant. It’s the second major player amongst the components of the cannabis plant, apart from CBD.

This compound shares the same chemical structure as the CBD but differs in some key aspects in terms of its effects and benefits.

THC has a psychotropic effect on your brain. It interacts in a psychoactive way with your body whenever you use medical marijuana. It does this by interacting with the endocannabinoids already present in your body.

Despite the psychoactive nature of THC, research suggests it may also carry some important benefits. For example, it can be useful for treating many illnesses. However, it can have serious side effects: regular THC use may stymie the development of the adolescent brain.

Chemical Properties Of THC Vs. CBD

Chemical Properties of CBD Vs THC

THC is one of the phytocannabinoids and is similar to CBD. It interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors present in your body’s endocannabinoid system.

By doing so, it can affect the areas of your brain which are responsible for your pleasure, memory, thinking procedure, and perception of time and senses.

THC and CBD share a similar chemical structure, with only minor differences in their formula. Therefore, their biosynthesis follows a similar pattern. However, these small chemical differences are enough to change their use entirely.

CBD Vs THC Chemical Structure

On one hand, CBD is becoming quite popular these days thanks to several reports about its potential benefits and the fact that it’s not psychoactive, i.e. won’t make you feel “high” (you can learn more about CBD’s health benefits here).

On the other hand, THC has a bad reputation because of its psychoactive properties.

Of course, a substance’s psychoactive properties don’t make it bad. Many scientists have studied the potential health benefits of THC.

The Main Differences Between THC And CBD


While CBD is unlikely to affect the sensory procedures in your body, THC provides you with the feeling of ‘high’ associated with marijuana use.

THC-dominant medical marijuana affects your senses and gives you a feeling of light-headedness and relaxation. However, too much THC can land you in the hospital with panic or anxiety attacks, rapid heart rate and more. That’s why it’s illegal in the UK.

How CBD and THC interact with the Endocannabinoid System of your body:

THC binds strongly with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor of your brain, resulting in a feeling of euphoria. On the contrary, CBD binds only weakly with the CB1 receptor, which is why it has no psychotropic effect.

Effect on Appetite:

These substances also differ in how they affect your appetite. You will feel hungrier after using THC as it can increase your appetite significantly–what’s often called the “munchies.”

CBD does not have such a direct effect. However, it may boost appetite in a different way if it’s added to foods and beverages or taken as a medication. Since it may relieve nausea and calm your nervous system and digestive tract, you may eat more simply because you feel better.

Differences in sources:

Both compounds exist in cannabis. However, THC is dominantly present in marijuana and specific strains are cultivated in order to be THC-dominant.

On the other hand, hemp’s chemical composition is dominated by CBD, which makes hemp an ideal source for CBD intake.



THC can be smoked or taken in form of any edible like brownies, gummies, etc. It also comes in capsules and tinctures. One common way of THC intake is the use of THC oil. This oil is usually extracted from the leaves of the marijuana plant and it is rich in THC.

 THC oil is normally used when THC cannot be smoked or taken directly from marijuana or weed edibles like gummies and brownies. One way of taking medically prescribed THC Oil is to take it through a vaporizer.

Cannabis oil containing more than 1mg of THC was illegal in the UK prior to November 2018. Since then, higher concentrations of THC are allowed but only when prescribed by a doctor. You can find more information about the legal status of THC in this article.

Medical Usage And Benefits Of THC And CBD

The slight differences in their molecular structure result in a lot of differences in their respective pharmacological properties.

The medical usage and relevant benefits of THC and CBD differ a lot, based on their interactions with the human body, their chemical composition, and their quantity of intake. Here’s a comparison of the potential health benefits of both substances.


  • Muscle spasticity: THC is clinically proven to cure sore muscles or muscle spasms due to physical strains on body parts.
  • Glaucoma: THC is known to have remedial effects in case of glaucoma.
  • Appetite: THC is known to be used to stimulate the appetite. It can be used to increase the feeling of hunger.
  • Nausea: THC helps cure nausea.
  • Anxiety: THC can help treat anxiety by calming down your nerves.
  • Depression: THC has not shown any remedial effects for depression.
  • Pain: THC may help relieve body pain.
  • Mental Disorder: THC is not recommended to be taken in a state of mental disorder.
  • Effects on tumours: THC is not believed to be effective in the presence of tumours.
  • Seizures: It is not beneficial to take THC under such conditions.


  • Muscle spasticity: CBD isn’t very effective. It only gives a feeling of relaxation and calmness.
  • Glaucoma: CBD isn’t used medically for the treatment of glaucoma, as it can increase intraocular pressure.
  • Appetite: CBD doesn’t have a direct effect on appetite. However, it may indirectly aid it.
  • Nausea: CBD may help treat nausea.
  • Anxiety: CBD is reported to have a soothing effect in cases of anxiety.
  • Depression: A study concluded that CBD may help fight depression as it calms down the nervous system and eases stressed-out parts of the brain.
  • Pain: CBD oil may also be taken as a pain reliever.
  • Mental disorders: CBD has been reported to help with mental disorders as it decreases psychoactive elements in the body (including THC) and cures psychosis.
  • Effects on tumour: CBD is known to have a possible remedial effect on tumours.
  • Seizures: It’s reported that CBD can help people control their seizures. The FDA has already approved Epidolex, a medicine which fights a rare type of children’s epilepsy.

So, both THC and CBD are useful in their own ways and may improve certain aspects of your life under special medical conditions.

However, both THC and CBD can also interact with existing medication.

Their effects depend on the presence of other medicines in your body so you need to take care and confirm if either of them is safe before using them. Always consult your doctor before starting a new medicine!

Side-Effects Of CBD Use

Side effects of CBD and THC

CBD can react in adverse ways in the presence of certain medicinal components inside the body. Therefore, you have to make sure that you are not on any kind of medicine which reacts badly with CBD.

Otherwise, it is highly likely that you will not encounter any problem due to the usage of CBD even in relatively large quantities.

On the contrary, THC can have different temporary side-effects on your body mainly due to the psychotropic nature of the substance.

The effects are highly dependent on the quantity of intake. Major side-effects of using even medically prescribed THC products like THC Oil are:

Psychotropic Effects:

Due to the highly psychoactive nature of the substance, users of THC medicines can experience euphoria and feeling “high”. This can even result in psychotic episodes if the THC product was taken in large quantity.

Increased Heart Rate:

THC has shown to increase the heart rates of the user, dramatically in some cases. This can be bad for people with heart problems.

Sore eyes and dryness in a mouth:

THC may cause redness in the eyes. It may also dry out saliva from the mouth.

Issues with coordination and memory:

THC users may experience slower response time during normal actions. Memory loss is another frequently mentioned side-effect.

Problems in teenagers:

The adolescent brain is still in development. As a result, it may not be able to withstand the changes happening in the body’s endocannabinoid system due to THC.


CBD and THC are the two major and best-known substances amongst the cannabinoids present in cannabis. Since they originate from the same plant, they share almost similar chemical composition.

However, their chemical differences change the pharmacological usage of both products and hence they are used for different purposes due to their differing effects on the human body. 

THC and CBD are available in different forms. Their intake depends on the user and how they prefer to take it and use it. However, it is important to buy from a trusted source. Hemp is often used to clean up soil, leading to THC and CBD polluted with pesticides and heavy metals. Prefer producers who test their products during all production stages. Ask to see the test results, if shared online.

From a medical point of view, CBD and THC are believed to have many benefits. It is important, though, to know the difference between them to avoid any adverse side-effects. Also, both may interact with medication. Always consult a doctor before taking either compound if you are on any kind of medication.


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