THC vs CBD: Complete Overview of Differences and Benefits (Chart)

When it comes to the age-old THC vs CBD duel, there is really no clear winner. Both substances are useful in their own right and both are proven to help with a variety of medical conditions and symptoms.

Here’s a quick and basic overview: 

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)CBD (Cannabidiol)
PsychoactiveNon psychoactive
Used equally for recreational and medical purposesMainly used for medical purposes
Induces euphoriaInduces cellular homeostasis
Increases appetiteCurbs appetite
AntiemeticAnticonvulsant
Relaxes the body but provides a cerebral highReduces anxiety and negative side effects of THC
Activates CB receptorsActivates vanilloid, adenosine and serotonin receptors
Relieves painAntidepressive

But there’s more…

A lot more…

THC and CBD are not all about their differences, as they are best when combined. It’s a synergy thing.  

So here’s what I have in store for you today:

  • First off, a complete visual guide to the biggest differences between THC and CBD and their biggest benefits when combined (just right below)
  • A complete breakdown of all things I covered in the infographic, including a THC:CBD ratio guide which will help you pick the best strain

Let’s jump right in.

THC vs CBD

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Breakdown of THC vs CBD effects from the infographic

In your journey through the world of cannabis, you’re probably most baffled with cannabinoids and their effect on humans.

Cannabis has been used by people for over 10,000 years and it was initially used for treating medical conditions and reducing their symptoms. The plant was even used by some of the Chinese emperors from way before 2,000 BC.

Talk about heritage.

But the main reason why cannabis has been so popular for such a long time:

Cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are chemical substances that are produced by the cannabis plant and they have many purposes, both for the plant as well as its users. There are more than 100 of these substances in each cannabis plant and they all have some positive effects – some strains less and some more.

However, the two most prominent cannabinoids in cannabis are THC and CBD.

What’s THC?

THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and is usually the most famous (or at least the most mentioned) substance of them all. If THC and CBD are to be personified into twin brothers, then THC would be the outgoing twin and CBD would be the national mathematics high-school champion.

Jokes aside, THC is the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant and is responsible for getting people high (euphoric). That is not to say that it is not beneficial for medical users.

THC tackles a wide variety of medical symptoms rather efficiently and is awesome at relieving chronic pain, increasing appetite & reducing nausea.

What’s CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is the second most prominent cannabinoid in most cannabis strains.

CBD is superior to THC at the variety of medical conditions it helps with and is a great substance for treating pain, anxiety and inflammations. However, it is most popular for its relaxing and bacteria killing benefits.

Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high (euphoric sensation or an altered state of mind) but rather affects and relaxes your body. It can be said that CBD is the primary choice of medical patients, depending on their illness.

How do THC and CBD produce effects?

What may be surprising to you is that THC and CBD actually fit into your body’s receptors like a glove.

See, human bodies have something that’s called an endocannabinoid system.

This is a physiological system that basically regulates your health by ensuring you are in the state of homeostasis (balance).

Endocannabinoid

ECS essentially connects your body and mind, making sure everything is in balance and that no unwanted processes take place.

It does that through a series of stimulators and receptors and has the end goal to make cells in a certain area work as efficiently as possible. So, essentially, it is a system that operates on a cellular level.

The stimulators are called cannabinoids — they can be either endocannabinoids (produced by our bodies), phytocannabinoids (found in certain plants, like cannabis) or synthetic cannabinoids (produced artificially in the lab)

The receptors are called CB1 and CB2 — and they are scattered throughout the body. CB1 receptors are a part of our nervous system while CB2 are found in our immune system.

When a receptor get stimulated, it sets off an avalanche of cellular processes: autophagy, stabilization of nerve cells, reduction of pro-inflammatory cells and many more.

THC, for example, primarily activates your CB1 receptors, that are located in the central and peripheral nervous system. CBD, on the other hand, is more oriented towards promoting anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter that also activates CB receptors.

That explains why CBD has an antagonistic effect over THC (i.e. the higher the CBD concentration, the less psychoactive effects the user experiences).

Essentially, entire appeal of cannabinoids (and mainly THC and CBD) can be contributed to their ability to stimulate various receptors in our bodies and, therefore, regulate cellular homeostasis.

This, in turn, enables us to be happy, uplifted, euphoric and healthy when we consume cannabis products, such as dried flowers or concentrates.

What are the biggest differences between THC and CBD?

Even though both THC and CBD provide a wide variety medical effects, there is an important difference between them, that’s obvious right of the bat:

THC makes you high and euphoric, while CBD does not have any psychoactive effects.

When it comes to relieving symptoms, on the other hand, you should know that you can’t have one without the other. Therefore it’s good to know which symptoms each of them tackle the best.

Check out the table below for a full comparison:

EffectTHCCBD
Relieve pain
Reduce inflammation
Boost appetite
Relieve nausea
Relieve cramps and spasms
Reduce anxiety
Tranquilization
Relieve seizures and colvusions
Promote sleep
Reduce blood sugar levels
Protect nervous system
Kill bacteria
Restrain cell growth in tumors
Help with bone growth

Source: coloradopotguide.com

It’s important to take these points into consideration when choosing your preferred cannabis product, just because it may mean the difference between being satisfied with your experience and being disappointed.

How to assess THC and CBD ratios and percentages?

You’ve might have heard it before, but cannabis has a biphasic effect on people. This means that low doses of cannabinoids produce one group of effects and high doses produce something completely different.

THC, for example, can make you paranoid in extremely high doses (especially if you are a novice user) and relaxed in low doses.

That being said, beginners should almost always stick to lower and moderate doses. Just avoid smoking 7 joints at once and you’ll be fine. As they say — ease into it.

With volume out of the way, we can now talk about percentages.

You will see strains that have:

  • High THC and low CBD percentages — mainly used by recreational users, as they get you really high. The higher the THC percentage, the stronger and longer lasting the high.
  • High CBD and low THC percentages — perfect for medicinal users who want to experience multiple medical effects without getting high or euphoric.
  • Equal CBD and THC percentages — quite rare nowadays, but great for consumers who are looking for a minimal high with a strong focus on relieving symptoms.

As you know by now, CBD suppresses the psychoactive effects of THC, so if you’re looking for a more mellow experience either buy a more potent strain and consume a little, or buy a CBD dominant strain and have no worries.

Another thing that characterises every strain is that it has a certain ratio of cannabinoids, which make it what it is. This is broken down very neatly in this article, but here’s a quick recap for you:

THC:CBD RatioEffects
1:0Very high psychoactive effects, uplifted emotions, uncontrollable laugh.
More prominent side effects for novice users.
2:1Laugh and euphoria with calmer thoughts.
Mild side effects.
1:1Biggest therapeutic benefits and tranquility.
Very few side effects.
1:2Mild sedation and body relaxation.
Weak euphoria effect.
0:1Antipsychotic and relaxing effects, great for therapeutic use.
No high effect.

It is extremely important to take THC:CBD ratio into consideration when buying a strain, as it will help you tailor the experience to your exact symptoms and desired effects.

More on cannabinoids

Investigating THC and how it works – THC: The Complete Science Behind Tetrahydrocannabinol

All you need to know about CBD (literally) – CBD: the Complete Science Behind Cannabidiol (Feat. Martin A. Lee)

 

Categories Basics

Editor in chief at Greencamp. Into all kinds of technical tutorials and topics related to cannabis culture. Professional at postponing workouts.

8 thoughts on “THC vs CBD: Complete Overview of Differences and Benefits (Chart)

    • Hey Kirby,

      I’m not a doctor as you know but I’ll try to give you some friendly, objective advice based on the studies I’ve read.

      THC is the compound that reduces tumor growth, since it has been proven to stimulate cell death in certain cancers (full study). Therefore, if you’re looking for a product to aid in cancer treatment, go for a high THC Indica strain or a concentrate. The ratio there would be 1:0 THC to CBD.

      However, if you’re looking for pain and nausea relief from conventional cancer treatment then go for 1:1 ratio.

      I’m sure you’re familiar with Rick Simpson and his cancer story, take a look it might be interesting — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZK-1hQ9QbQ

      This oil is actually pretty easy to make and we’ll be doing a tutorial on it soon. Peace and good luck 🙂

    • Flowers with 1:1 ratio go for as much as $60 for 1/4 oz (7 grams)…Good example would be a strain called CBD Shark, if you’re looking for flowers. If you’re not into smoking, you can check out a concentrate with a 1:1 ratio which you use by just placing a few drops under your tongue. I’ve recently heard a lot of praise for this 1:1 tincture called Soothen Liquid which goes for about $70 for a 1 Oz bottle.

  1. I’m taking some hemp oil that has .3% THC in it. I don’t know if I’m just imagining this but it seems to make me lose my memory sometimes can this affect your cells in your brain I was just wondering?

  2. Hey Folks, have you ever wondered why cannabis is really illegal? It makes no sense to me, because I have used it for over 45 years. They say it leads to heavier drug use but I have never used any other substances. It would bring a world of new income and industries to the entire USA. You never hear: marijuana smoker kills 5 in deadly auto crash on highway, cause it just doesn’t happen. On the other hand Alcohol kills thousands and it is legal, go figure. Marijuana is finally getting some recognition in the medical field as it well should. I have 2 sisters and have several friends that have cancer. They could benefit immensely by the use of marijuana but their state laws do not allow it. Their appetites could be greatly increased plus the benefit of pain management would be there also. I know some states have legalized it and even more states have medicinally approved it. This is not enough, All states should follow in the footsteps of these few that have had the courage and knowledge to legalize marijuana. It should be treated as tobacco like cigarettes, if they are substantially cheaper in one state than another then bootlegging it should also be illegal (meaning interstate commerce). As far as growing your own, that should be up to the individual growing the product. I see no reason to limit, or penalize anyone who wants to grow. Smoking marijuana in public should be just as cigarettes, if there’s no smoking that means everything. All smoking should be done outdoors except in one’s own domicile. Who does it actually harm when marijuana is smoked? All in all it is a very controversial issue and I just wanted to give my views and opinions

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