You must be wondering what THC and CBD are? They belong to a class of chemical compounds called “Cannabinoids” which interacts with the Cannabinoid receptors.

The connection of these chemical compounds with receptors alters the release of neurotransmitters within the brain.

There are multiple variants of Cannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant. The most well-known cannabinoid is Tetrahydrocannabinol,i.e., THC.

However, many other types of cannabinoids have been identified as more studies are carried out example Cannabidiol. Following are the subclasses of cannabinoids:

  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG);
  • Cannabidiol (CBD);
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC);
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Other cannabinoids (such as Cannabielsoin (CBE), Cannabicyclol (CBL) and Cannabidiol (CBT) and others.

CBD has been the cannabinoid of interest now for few years as it is featured for treating epilepsy.

It is the most abundant cannabinoid present in the Cannabis resin comprising around 40%. Now you must be wondering what the difference between THC and CBD is?

Differences between THC and CBD

difference btw thc and cbdFollowing are the differences between THC and CBD discussed below:

1) The high difference between THC and CBD

THC makes you high while CBD does not. THC has a psychoactive property which affects the brain.

However, CBD does not. Many people avoid using Cannabis because of this sole reason that they think every cannabinoid makes them high although there are multiple types from which you can choose.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is a psychoactive compound especially its principle isomer, i.e. (−)-Trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (6aR, 10aR)-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).

It was first identified by Israeli scientists Yechiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam in 1964.

The compound is robust and water-clear glassy in appearance while cold and becomes sticky and viscous while warm.

THC also produces the medical benefits which include the treatment of glaucoma, chemotherapy and multiple sclerosis.

CBD, on the other hand, has numerous benefits to treat intestinal issues, bacterial infections, and epilepsy.

CBD or Cannabidiol is also a compound of Cannabis plant with various medical benefits. It does not give a buzz to the individuals.

It helps to counteract the psychoactivity of the THC compound. It is highly effective for treatment options as it does not make the people high.

It is anti-pain, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety effects which help to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC, anti-spasm and antipsychotic. The CBD cannabinoid does not trouble dysphoria or lethargy.

2) Why is CBD considered non-psychoactive?

What is the difference between two cannabinoids and how THC has more profound effects of being psychoactive?

The psychoactivity of the cannabinoids occurs when they interact with the CB1 receptors which are present in the brain includes the basal ganglia and limbic system mainly involving the striatum and hippocampus areas.

These receptors are also found in the cerebellum, reproductive system, anterior eye, and retina.

The difference between the two cannabinoids lies on the interaction of each cannabinoid with the CB1 receptors.

THC has a proper binding ability with the CB1 receptors. However, CBD has low affinity for attaching to these receptors.

THC has a perfect shape to bind with the CB1 receptors example particular key links to its lock. This connection of THC with CB1 receptors activates the receptors and works as an agonist.

THC mimics a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced within the body for example anandamide. Anandamide is a type of endocannabinoid which stimulates the CB1 receptors.

This endocannabinoid helps in enhancing pleasure, increases the appetite both of which are associated with consumption of food.

Anandamide has a useful role in pain, memory, and motivation. These same feelings are produced by THC because it resembles this endocannabinoid.

CBD is non-psychoactive which is why it has been used for treating individuals who have Schizophrenia.

On the other hand, CBD does not bind efficiently to CB2 receptors. It acts as an antagonist.

It neither activates nor suppresses the activation of CB1 receptors directly; however, it prevents the activating properties of THC on CB1 receptors.

So this concludes that CBD opposes the mechanism of action of THC specifically at CB1 receptors.

Following are the common effects of THC and CBD on CB1 receptors:

THC: anxiety, euphoria, relaxation, short-term memory impairment.

CBD: It helps in reduction of adverse effects produced by THC such as decreases the stress along with short-term memory impairment.

3) The sleep

Marijuana is commonly used as a sleeping pill. THC is believed for promoting the sleep effects. However, CBD is shown to result in wakefulness.

It is an unfortunate choice when consumed as a sleeping aid. It is the reason why some strains make you feel active while others make you drowsy.

the sleep

4) Legal status

CBD is clear concerning legal status when compared to marijuana along with THC which has strict laws against them. CBD is illegal in the USA because it is classified to be a Schedule 1 drug.

A medical form of CBD has recently introduced by the name of Epidiolex which helps to treat severe epilepsy in children. CBD is also found in Hemp which is legally sold and imported into the US.

5) Advantages of THC and CBD

THC is helpful for following functions:

  • It acts an anti-inflammatory agent
  • Appetite and euphoria stimulation
  • Pain relief
  • Regulation of immune system
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Increases mood
  • Reduces nausea
  • Reduces the epileptic seizures

However, CBD is helpful for following functions:

  • Reduces nausea and anxiety
  • Immunosuppression
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Pain relief
  • Antipsychotic
  • Reduces insomnia and inflammation
  • Calming effect

6) Medical benefits

Following are the medical benefits of THC:

  • Neuropathic pain
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • PTSD

Following are the medical benefits of CBD:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety

Natural sources of CBD and THC

CBD is naturally derived from Industrial hemp and cannabis plants. On the other hand, THC is only derived from Cannabis plants primarily Indica, Ruderalis and Sativa species.


If you desire to make yourself high, you should achieve those strains of Cannabis plant which is high in THC.

However, if you want to achieve the medical effects then opt for strains which are rich in CBD. Strains with increased levels of CBD include Harlequin, Charlotte’s Web, Cannatonic and Sour tsunami.

You should keep this in mind that all the cannabinoids have specific medical benefits so you should search for the strains and some cannabinoids they contain.

You should know your requirements that which cannabinoids you want to utilize under specific conditions.

It is shown in multiple studies that it’s better to consume terpenes and cannabinoids in combination because they work synergistically and produce better results.

Asad Khan is an independent health journalist who specializes in food policy and global health. He is a senior fellow for investigative health journalism at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, Germany.