The Difference Between CBD and THC Explained

Looking for genuine, quality information about CBD and THC on the internet is quite a daunting challenge. Misinformation and truth seems to be put out at the same rate, and the information presented is often conflicting or contradicting. The Government doesn’t seem to help, with the constantly changing laws and ever present Gray area surrounding Hemp and CBD.  Hopefully this post can shed some light on the differences between CBD and THC.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD is one of over 100 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike it’s THC cousin, CBD is non-psychoactive. This means that it will not make the user “high”. It does not alter the consciousness of the user. CBD is Considered to be an all-natural dietary supplement and is widely available in a myriad of forms.

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC is another of the greater than 100 natural chemicals in the cannabis plant. THC is the psychoactive component of Marijuana. That is to say, THC is the component that makes the user feel “high”. THC is federally classified as a schedule 1 drug, meaning at some point somebody decided that there is no therapeutic benefit to it. This theory has been largely debunked, and medical (and even recreational) use of marijuana is legal at the state level in multiple states.

How Do They Work?

Both CBD and THC impact by the body by interacting with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system located in the central and peripheral nervous system (in the brain and spine). The endocannabinoid system includes two main cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (a state of steady being) by controlling, or helping functions such as sleep, memory, mood, pain and appetite. CB2 is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the immune system. This system is responsible for the inflammatory response (which is often associated with pain, both chronic and acute. CBD engages indirectly with the endocannabinoid receptors by stimulating the endocannabinoids and preventing breakdown. THC works by  stimulating an endogenous chemical called Dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that helps transmit signals to the brain. THC also directly interacts with the cannabinoids. This stimulation is what can cause the various emotions often associated with marijuana use such as relaxed mood, happiness, paranoia and pain relief.

Possible Side Effects

Current research on CBD has found minimal short-term and long-term side effects.  A limited number of users have reported dry mouth or minor dizziness. CBD is non-psychoactive, so it does not cause the intoxication or “high” feeling that is associated with THC. Studies are ongoing, however there have not been any significant short or long term side effects noted to date.

THC research has shown both short and long term effects on the brain. Immediate side effects are what one would think about due to long standing literature. These include disrupted memory, anxiety, paranoia, increased heart rate, dry mouth, motor impairment and sedation. Long term side effects are mostly related to smoking. Although the advent of alternative delivery methods (vapes, edibles, tinctures) has caused the need for further study into long term effects.


Both THC and CBD have a wide range of benefits for users.

CBD Benefits:

  • Decreases anxiety
  • Decreases depression
  • Decreases number of seizures in children with epilepsy
  • natural antioxidant
  • Combats mental illness and psychosis.(remember the endocannabinoid system)
  • Restores optimal cell function.
  • Reduces nausea and vomiting.
  • Manages pain and inflammation.
  • Maintains homeostasis throughout the body’s systems

THC Benefits:

  • Helps induce sleep.
  • Stimulates appetite.
  • Relaxes for feelings of euphoria and well-being.
  • Reduces pain and inflammation.
  • Enhances psychoactive effects such as intensified sensations, time distortion, paranoia and altered mental state.

In Summary

CBD is a low risk/ high reward natural dietary supplement. The uses are varied and powerful. The health risk for individuals choosing to utilize CBD to positively impact their life is low, especially when compared to commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals for similar conditions.

While having positive benefits, THC continues to be heavily stigmatized and illegal in the majority of states (at some level). Marijuana also continues to hold a place on the DEA schedule 1 list. Therefore the risk vs. benefit of this compound is slightly less favorable.

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