CBD vs THC: The Complete Guide

Cannabis plants can be used to create more than 400 various compounds, of which more than 60 are unique to the plant genus Cannabis. One of those compounds is called cannabidiol, which is often referred to as CBD. CBD should not be confused with THC, which is the chemical responsible for the sense of euphoria marijuana creates when smoked or ingested. CBD does not have a psychological effect on those who use it. However, it does have a myriad of medical benefits for those who take it regularly. Despite the fact that CBD is legal and has many positive benefits, some people are still reluctant to use it because of the stigma around the marijuana plant.

What Is CBD?

What is CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound derived from either marijuana or hemp. It is often made into an oil that can be ingested easily, but it comes in many forms, including oils, tinctures, pills, and vaporization liquids. It has been removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances and now many athletes are using it for pain relief. Cannabidiol is highly reactive with humans’ endocannabinoid system. CBD binds with receptors in our endocannabinoid system and stimulates all sorts of changes in the body, most of which are incredibly beneficial. Researchers, scientists, and doctors are uncovering amazing new uses for CBD all the time. Because of the compounds great potential, the CBD market is blowing up in a major way. According to the Brightfield Group, which is a market firm specializing in cannabis products, the CBD market reached $292 million in 2016 and is expected to come in around $2.15 billion in 2021.

Because each state in the U.S. has its own laws and regulations for marijuana, CBD is sourced from hemp in certain states. If medical marijuana is not allowed in a state, then certain CBD products would also be considered illegal if they contain too much THC. CBD products with THC levels exceeding 1 percent are not available in most states where medical marijuana is not available. Even though that low level of THC would not get anyone high, manufacturers of CBD must source it from hemp in order to sell their products in those states.

What Is THC?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical that causes most of marijuana’s psychological effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC is similar to the cannabinoid chemicals that occur naturally in our bodies. The chemical is found in marijuana plants, with the greatest concentration found around the reproductive organs of the plant. THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and activates them. When those receptors are activated, they can affect a person’s sense of pleasure, thinking, concentration, coordination, time perception, memory, and sensory perception. THC causes the brain to release dopamine, which creates a sense of euphoria. It can also interfere with how people form new memories. The effets of THC take 10 to 30 minutes to kick in after ingestion and they last around two hours. Since THC can impair motor skills, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of the drug.

THC can be present in high concentrations in certain strains of cannabis, but not every plant contains a lot of THC. Some strains have as little as 0.3 percent THC by weight, but hashish can contain 20 percent THC by weight. So, depending on what type and quantity of cannabis is smoked or ingested, people can sense mild or intense “highs”.


While both CBD and THC are present in marijuana, they are very different compounds. Surprisingly, CBD was first isolated before THC, even though most people are far more familiar with THC. In most marijuana plants, CBD is the second-most abundant cannabinoid, though that is not always the case. Some strains are high in THC and low in CBD, while others are balanced or just the opposite. CBD does not create the euphoric high that THC does, so many people opt for strains that are high in CBD and low in THC so that they can function better throughout the day. While some people seek out THC for the high, others who need cannabinoids for medical reasons do not want to experience the high when they simply need relief from pain or other ailments.

Uses of CBD

Researchers are finding new uses for CBD all the time and some of its amazing effects have already been documented. Possibly the most impressive use of CBD is in the treatment of epilepsy and seizure disorders. One famous case involved a girl named Charlotte who was having around 1,200 seizures per month. After being treated with CBD oil, Charlotte’s seizures decreased to roughly three per month. CBD is now widely used to help prevent seizures.

Since CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, it is often used to treat pain. Recently, it has become a popular treatment for anxiety and can even help with PTSD. Some people with Crohn’s disease find that CBD can help lessen the severity of their symptoms. Another great use of CBD is to help people experiencing opiod withdrawal, which can be an excruciating proceess. Researchers have discovered that CBD can also protect nerve cells from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. This is referred to as the “neuroprotective effect” and it is a very exciting aspect of the cannabinoid.

Uses of THC


The most common use of THC is for its recreational high. THC is used widely around the world for its psychotropic properties and is even recreationally legal in a handful of states in America. But THC also has medicinal uses. According to the National Cancer Institute, marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 3,000 years though it was only recently allowed to be used to treat patients in the United States. One of its medical uses is to increase the appetites of AIDS patients, people being treated with chemotherapy, and people suffering from anorexia. THC can also be used to relieve pain and nausea. Certain strains can make individuals more anxious, but if the right strain is used, then it can actually help treat anxiety. For some patients, THC needs to be taken orally because of the nature of their condition. One example is in the treatment of asthma.

Certain studies have shown that THC can cause a decrease in spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. There have also been positive anecdotal reports of cannabis helping patients with Tourette’s syndrome, dystonia and tardive dyskinesia. In the treatment of glaucoma, it has been shown that cannabis decreases intraocular pressure by an average 25-30 percent, occasionally up to 50 percent. THC can help people who are addicted to dangerous substances such as opiates or alcohol. THC has also been used to help those with psychiatric issues like sleep disorders, bipolar disorders, and dysthymia.

While THC and CBD are completely different compounds, they both have great medicinal uses, some of which overlap. If CBD can be used to treat a patient’s issue, then it is typically preferred since it does not make the patient high.

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