What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

With an increase in the legal use of cannabis products such as marijuana, a lot of people are getting curious regarding their options. These majorly include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the two compounds naturally found in the plants belonging to the genus Cannabis.

Both of these compounds tend to affect the endocannabinoid system of the body. So are they the same? If not, what are the differences? Keep reading to find out.

The Chemical Structure

Both THC and CBD tend to have the exact same molecular structure. There are 21 atoms of carbon, 2 of oxygen, and 30 of hydrogen. The difference lies in how these atoms are arranged. This difference in assembly is why both compounds impact your body differently.

Both THC and CBD have a similar chemical composition as that of your body’s natural endocannabinoids. This makes it easier for these compounds to produce effects in the body.

Psychoactive Components

Despite having closely resembling structures, TCH and CBD differ in terms of psychoactive properties. CBD is considered as a non-psychoactive compound. This means that it does not produce the “high” generally observed while using THC.

THC attaches itself to the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the human brain in order to produce the high, or euphoria.

CBD, on the other hand, binds very weakly to these CB1 receptors. Some speculate that it can even interfere with the binding of THC in order to reduce the psychoactive effects.


The issues regarding the legality of both THC as well as CBD are evolving, particularly in the United States. Cannabis in all forms is illegal in the states that have not legalized it yet. Marijuana, as well as THC, is the part of the list of controlled substances. This means that their use is prohibited under the federal law.

Recently, Washington D.C. and 20 other states have passed certain cannabis-related laws which make medical marijuana having high levels of THC legal for use. However, it is important for a licensed physician to prescribe it first.

In addition to this, Washington D.C. and nine other states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana as well. However, it is still illegal on a federal level.

In states where it is legal to use marijuana for recreation or medicinal purposes, it is easy to buy CBD legal. CBD usage for medical purposes has also been legalized by a few states.

Medical Benefits

Both THC and CBD offer similar medical benefits. They provide relief from almost the same conditions. The only difference is that CBD does so without causing euphoria typically associated with THC. Because of this reason, a lot of people prefer using CBD.

In June 2018, the USFDA approved a drug named Epidiolex, the first medicine containing CBD. The primary purpose of this drug is to use epilepsy.

Other uses of CBD include:

  • Inflammation
  • Seizures
  • Mental disorders such as psychosis
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • IBD
  • Depression
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety

The following conditions can be managed with THC:

  • Glaucoma
  • Pain
  • Low appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

Side Effects

Most of the people are able to tolerate CBD, even in higher doses. Research has suggested that any side effects likely to occur due to CBD are usually due to drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and any other pill that you are taking simultaneously.

THC, on the other hand, may cause the following side effects on a temporary basis:

  • Dryness of mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Sluggish reaction times
  • Increased heart rate
  • Problems in coordination

These side effects usually occur owing to the psychoactive properties of THC

It is important to note that none of the compounds is fatal. However, high use of THC may be linked with negative psychiatric effects on a long-term basis.


Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!