THC and CBD – What’s The Difference?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that produce several species. These species are often also referred to as strains. Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are probably the most popular cannabis species out there. However, researchers have since discovered numerous other lesser-known cannabis strains, such as Cannabis ruderalis and Cannabis hybrid. Now, various parameters are used to differentiate cannabis species, including their maturation period, the volume of yield, overall resilience, and the types of compounds a species produces.

For instance, Sativa species produce marijuana cultivars, which contain significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). On the other hand, indica species produce hemp cultivars and are relatively high in cannabidiol (CBD).

Introducing CBD and THC

CBD and THC are the two most popular and widely-studied extracts derived from cannabis. However, they’re by no means the only compounds in the plant. Cannabis contains more than 480 other compounds, which are broadly categorized into cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids account for many of the medicinal properties of cannabis, and it’s in this group that CBD and THC fall. Other popular cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN). Terpenes are compounds that give the various cannabinoids their distinctive flavors and scents, such as limonene.

Although CBD and THC are derivatives of the same plant, these compounds have significant differences. It’s important to understand these differences before purchasing CBD edibles for pain, anxiety or any other CBD product, for that matter. As you shall find, each compound comes with a host of health benefits. But they differ significantly in how they affect your body, their side effects, legality, among other parameters.

Differences Between CBD and THC

  • Chemical structure

As CBD and THC come from the same plant, the substances have the same chemical structure. Their structures include 21 carbon atoms bonded covalently with 30 hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms.

However, there’s a slight difference in how those atoms are arranged. And that seemingly slight variance produces a huge difference in how each of these substances affects your body.

  • Effects on the body

Both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol impacts your endocannabinoid system by altering the chemical structure of CB2 receptors located in the peripheral organs and tissues. In effect, CBD makes your CB2 receptors more ‘receptive’ to your endocannabinoids. This complex mechanism results in the restoration of homeostatic imbalance, thereby treating a wide range of medical conditions like pain, insomnia, anxiety, and inflammation.

THC binds to CB1 receptors, which are widespread around the brain and central nervous system in a mechanism that can relieve various medical conditions. But THC doesn’t just produce therapeutic effects. Since the compound binds to receptors located closest to your brain, it can also cause mind-altering effects, such as euphoria and hallucinations.

  • Conditions they can treat

As we’ve already highlighted, both CBD and THC can treat similar medical conditions. Some of the diseases you can manage with either substance include acute and chronic pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, seizures, and inflammation. However, CBD has additional benefits, including treating mental conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

On its part, THC can further help with poor appetite, low energy levels, erectile dysfunction, and muscle spasticity.

  • Methods of administration

There are various ways to consume CBD, including;

  1. Vaping CBD-infused e-liquids
  2. Smoking dried hemp flowers/buds
  3. Topical application of CBD-enriched ointments
  4. Ingesting CBD-infused edibles like gummies, candies, chocolate products, baked goods, or beverage drinks
  5. Oral administration of CBD oil tinctures

Each of these methods is ideal under specific circumstances. For instance, you can consider applying a CBD-enriched salve topically over an inflammation if the swelling is localized. When it comes to a condition whose symptoms are felt throughout the body, your best bet is to go for oral tinctures, edibles, or inhalable products.

As THC is mostly used recreationally, the most popular method to consume is smoking marijuana or vaping THC-containing e-juices. With THC, the focus is usually on getting the substance straight into your system to experience its effects.

  • Side effects

CBD presents a host of side effects, ranging from nausea to drowsiness, dry mouth, low blood pressure, fatigue, or constipation. The common side effects of THC include hallucinations, euphoria, dizziness, vomiting, bloodshot eyes, diminished memory, and poor coordination.

Another thing worth noting is that CBD’s side effects are a bit milder and short-lasting than those of THC.

  • Legality

As cannabidiol is mostly famous as a medicinal extract and THC is mainly used as a recreational drug, CBD tends to appear more favorable in the law’s eyes than THC. Various countries worldwide have since legalized CBD, whileTHC’se legality remains a bit fuzzy. In the United States, the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD across all 50 states. So, technically, you can consume CBD products all over the United States. The only condition is that the products must contain a maximum of 0.3% THC content.

However, the general practice is to establish the legality of either substance in your country or state before using, possessing, or distributing it. Remember that the mere fact these compounds come from cannabis makes them subject to intense scrutiny.


CBD and THC may be derivatives of the same plant. But these compounds differ significantly. Hopefully, you can now proceed to order your CBD or THC products from the point of information.

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