The Difference Between CBD and THC: A Comprehensive Guide

According to PR Newswire, 9 million people started using CBD during 2020, with 50% of new consumers trying out new products during this time.

Are you keen to explore the benefits of CBD for yourself, but wary of its close relationship to psychoactive THC? After all, they both come from the cannabis plant.

Well, there’s nothing to fear. Keep reading to find out more about the difference between CBD and THC.

Chemical Difference Between CBD and THC

The amazing thing is, there is no chemical difference between CBD and THC. They have an identical molecular structure, consisting of 2 oxygen atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 21 carbon atoms.

The difference lies in the arrangement of these atoms. Although both substances interact with your endocannabinoid receptors, this arrangement determines how this interaction affects you. 

When these cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system, they stimulate the release of neurotransmitters to your brain. These chemicals help relay messages between the cells and play a role in regulating stress, sleep, immune function, and pain. 

THC’s actions are similar to that of the neurotransmitter anandamide which regulates the hippocampus in the brain, in that it attaches strongly to CB1 receptors in the EC.

This area influences feelings of pleasure, concentration, memory, coordination, and sensory perception. In the same way, THC also affects the cerebellum and basal ganglia which regulate posture, balance, reaction time, and coordination. 

CBD binds very weakly to the CB1 receptors, if at all. These weak links create a calming effect, suited for treating anxiety.

CBD vs THC in the Eyes of the Law

Cannabis laws change regularly across the world. Although the Farm Bill legalized products made of hemp, including CBD supplements, CBD itself is still a Schedule I drug according to the DEA and FDA.

In states where you can buy CBD derived from hemp, they must contain less than 0.3% THC. 

THC remains illegal in most states, although it’s legal for medicinal use with a prescription in 33 states as well as Washington, D.C. 

Make sure you know the law before you buy THC or CBD products, you could end up in serious trouble if you’re caught with illegal cannabis products.

Benefits of CBD and THC

Because of how they interact with the endocannabinoid system, both THC and CBD can have numerous health benefits. There’s a shortage of long-term studies to support this theory, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to back it up.

What Is CBD Good For?

Currently, there is one FDA-approved medication derived from CBD, Epidiolex. This medication helps treat a rare type of epilepsy by controlling seizures.

CBD’s also used as a supplement to help with the following conditions:

  • inflammation
  • Pain
  • Mental disorders and psychosis
  • Migraine
  • Depression
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety

Many users have reported relief from the above when using CBD long-term, but the results depend on finding the right dosage for your circumstances. 

What Is THC Used For?

There are two FDA-approved THC-based medications available. Dronabinol centers on treating nausea in patients recovering from chemotherapy for cancer, while Nabilone helps stimulate appetite in AIDS sufferers.

Apart from these official medications, THC users report that this cannabinoid helps with the following afflictions:

  • Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

Of course, some people still use THC for recreational purposes. 

Side Effects Related to THC and CBD

Although the human body tolerates cannabinoids very well, some people report mild side effects when taking these products. Often these are the result of interactions between the cannabinoids and other drugs in your system.

Common side effects of THC include:

  • Coordination problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Memory loss
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Anxiety

These are usually temporary. 

Common CBD side effects include fatigue, dizziness, weight loss, diarrhea, and appetite changes. 

How to take CBD 

If you’re keen to discover these health benefits for yourself, there are several ways to ingest CBD safely. There are three main types of CBD. 

CBD isolate is pure CBD, extracted from hemp, but it doesn’t always produce the desired effect. There are hundreds of other cannabinoids contained in cannabis, and they all work together to benefit the human body.

If you want to reap the best effects of CBD, it’s best to opt for full-spectrum CBD, which contains all parts of the plant as well as less than 0.3% THC. Broad-spectrum products are like full-spectrum CBD, but they may contain more THC.

You can choose from a wide range of products containing all three types of CBD, namely:

Oils and Tinctures

CBD oils and tinctures come in liquid form, which you ingest using a dropper. For immediate absorption, you can place the desired dosage under your tongue, but you can also add this type of CBD to food or drinks.

You can also get tinctures and oils in the form of capsules that dissolve in your mouth.


Edibles are the easiest way to enjoy CBD. They’re portable, and you simply eat them like you would a piece of candy. 

You can also control your dosage easily with edibles, by breaking them in half. There are different types and flavors available, go here for CBD edibles ideas to suit every taste.


Topicals are oils and lotions designed for external use. They’re used for soothing aching, inflamed joints, or skin conditions. 

Make Informed Health Decisions

Are you clear on the difference between CBD and THC, now?

If you have any further questions, consult your doctor before commencing with any new treatments. They know you best and can advise on any likely interactions between chronic medications you’re already taking. 

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