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)|
|Used equally for recreational and medical purposes||Mainly used for medical purposes|
|Induces euphoria||Induces cellular homeostasis|
|Increases appetite||Curbs appetite|
|Relaxes the body but provides a cerebral high||Reduces anxiety and negative side effects of THC|
|Activates CB receptors||Activates vanilloid, adenosine and serotonin receptors|
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.
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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 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.
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.
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).
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:
|Relieve cramps and spasms|
|Relieve seizures and colvusions|
|Reduce blood sugar levels|
|Protect nervous system|
|Restrain cell growth in tumors|
|Help with bone growth|
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:
|1:0||Very high psychoactive effects, uplifted emotions, uncontrollable laugh.|
More prominent side effects for novice users.
|2:1||Laugh and euphoria with calmer thoughts.|
Mild side effects.
|1:1||Biggest therapeutic benefits and tranquility.|
Very few side effects.
|1:2||Mild sedation and body relaxation.|
Weak euphoria effect.
|0:1||Antipsychotic 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)