cbd vs thc: what's the difference

CBD vs THC: And How it Compares to Other Compounds

They're both cannabis but what's the difference between CBD vs THC, and how does it compare to hemp oil or CBN. This guide shares the facts.

Emerging research studies and a booming consumer market has everyone talking about CBD

Is CBD actually the miracle compound some are claiming? How does CBD measure up against other cannabinoids? 

In this guide, we show you how cannabidoil compares to other commonly found cannabis compounds. 

The Endocannabinoid System

the endocannabinoid system explained

But before we highlight those differences, you need to know a few cannabis basics about the endocannabinoid system or ECS.  

It’s predominantly found in the brain and immune system. The endocannabinoid system regulates your body’s immune responses, memory, life cycles of cells, appetite and is important to your overall health.

It was only discovered that humans and animals have endocannabinoid system in the early 90s. Scientists are still learning about the roles it plays in our bodies, and what the effects are from different cannabinoids.

CB1 and CB2 Receptors

Within the ECS there are two receptors: CB1 and CB2. 

Cannabinoids attach to these receptors which interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system. How cannabinoids interact with your ECS is one of the distinct ways cannabinoids differ.

CBD binds to the CB2 receptor but not the CB1. Additionally, CBD can negate the bond between THC and the CB1 receptor causing a reduction or neutralization in feeling high.

THC bonds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors with an affinity towards CB1.

CBD vs THC: Are they Both Cannabis?

The cannabis plant contains over 100 identified cannabinoids.  

By far the two most talked about and researched are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Everyday there are more products emerging on the market containing cannabis.

So let’s break it down…. What is the difference between CBD and THC?  

These two almost identical twins – often called “sisters” are similar compounds that have very different effects on your body.

CBD and THC have the same chemical makeup, the two compounds have one atom’s difference in their arrangement. It is this atom of a difference that makes them act differently in our bodies.

Psychoactive Properties

One of the biggest questions people are wondering is, “Will CBD get me high?”  

The euphoric feeling or high effect is another major difference between THC and CBD. The cause of that high feeling is the activation of CB1 receptors. However, CBD does not bond bind to the CB1 receptor.  

What this means is that CBD does not make you high. In fact, it can actually do the opposite. CBD can reduce the psychoactive effects of THC.


The legal complexities of cannabis is another area where CBD and THC differ.  

The laws surrounding cannabis are ever evolving. CBD oil derived from a high CBD / low THC hemp is legal and available across the United States. The legal limit for THC in a CBD-based product is .3%.

THC is currently federally illegal. However, 33 states and the District of Columbia have voted in medical marijuana policies and 10 states have gone as far as making THC use medically and recreationally legal.

CBD vs THC for Pain

Both CBD and THC have been studied for their pain relieving properties.  

Research shows utilizing all the cannabinoids produces more effective results. When all the cannabinoids are present they work together in what scientists call the entourage effect.

When used alone, CBD is most effective on pain caused from inflammation. Studies show THC is most effective on neuropathic and central pain.  It has also shown to alleviate pain in diseases like AIDS, cancer, and fibromyalgia.

CBD vs Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference?

cbd vs hemp: what's the difference

CBD oil and hemp oil are quite different, although the two terms are often incorrectly used interchangeably.

Generally grown for industrial purposes, hemp oil is derived from the hemp plantm which is a species of the cannabis plant. The flowers of the hemp plant are pressed together to extract their oil. It’s a similar process to making olive oil. 

Flowers from the hemp plant naturally have very low levels of cannabinoids. The seeds of the hemp plant do not even contain cannabinoids.

Hemp oil and hemp seed oil have health benefits including helping boost metabolism, lowering cholesterol, and improve heart health. However, since it has no cannabinoids, it does not have the psychoactive effects of THC, or same healing benefits of CBD and THC.

Many CBD products use hemp oil as the base, and infuse higher amounts of CBD and other cannabinoids from the marijuana plant.

CBD vs CBN: What are the Benefits?

Another cannabinoid found in cannabis is CBG or cannabigerol.  CBG is the parent of CBD and THC.

Unlike CBD, CBG has psychoactive effects, though very slight especially compared to THC. Similar to CBD, CBG may help with inflammation, and contains antibacterial properties. Although CBG helps with these few aliments, CBD has been shown to assist with a broader scope of health issues.

In conclusion, of the all the cannabinoids, CBD on its own shows to have the most healing benefits. However, these benefits are heightened when THC, CBN, and the other cannabinoids are present.

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