What is the difference between THC and CBD?

Before discovering its medicinal properties, THC was only seen as the compound that gets you high; But with recent research and legalization occurring in several places, scientists have started to understand that THC can also be used for medicinal purposes.

And, as cannabis consumption grows, consumers are starting to adventure with THC-infused products such as gels, gummies, oils, topicals, and even cookies, but, is there really a huge difference between CBD and THC?

Chemical Structure and Composition

Both compounds have the same molecular structure, composed of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms, there is a slight difference in how those atoms are arranged which is why the effects are different but, both cannabinoids are similar to the endocannabinoids which are naturally produced by the human body.

Cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants also interact in a similar way to how endocannabinoids interact with your cannabinoid receptors; This interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters which are responsible for sending messages between cells and have important roles in pain, immune function, stress and sleep among others.


In most parts of the world, CBD and THC are still considered a drug but some countries have decriminalized (or even legalized) their use, even for recreational purposes in some places.

But it doesn’t matter where you live, make sure you are getting good quality products, in places where cannabis is still illegal you may find cannabis-derived products but the quality is often really bad so, if you’re interested in trying cannabis, make sure you visit a doctor or buy your medicine from a trustable vendor.

Depending on where you live, you can also grow your own cannabis plants; It doesn’t take much to make your brown cannabis oil or edibles, you can find several seed banks that offer not only THC but also CBD-rich strains, growing your own medicine is the only way to know how the product you’re consuming is made so it’s highly recommended you live in a place where cannabis cultivation is allowed.


Even though both compounds have similar chemical structures and are psychoactive (meaning that both of them affect how your brain works), CBD and THC do not have the same effects. 

CBD provides a more relaxing effect that slowly takes over your whole body because it binds to CB2 receptors, shown to help with anxiety, depression, seizures, and muscular pain; This is why CBD has always been associated with medicinal cannabis, whereas THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, producing a euphoric and energizing effect, this is why THC has been always associated to recreational cannabis.

Medicinal Benefits

As mentioned above, both CBD and THC have medicinal benefits but it’s up to you to know which one you need, despite being medicinal it may not have the effect you’re looking for so here are a couple of benefits that each one may bring.

CBD Medicinal Benefits

* Seizures;

* Inflammation;

* Anxiety;

* Depression;

* And migraines.

THC Medicinal Benefits

* Glaucoma;

* Low appetite;

* Pain;

* Nausea

* Anxiety.

Side Effects

Now, both of these compounds may have side effects so you shouldn’t consume whatever just to see what happens because despite having medicinal effects, it may end up worsening your condition, here are a couple of negative effects that you may feel when consuming CBD and/or THC:


* Fatigue;

* Diarrhea;

* Dizziness.


* Anxiety;

* Memory loss;

* Increased heart rate.

The side effects may not be too powerful but they’re certainly not pleasant at all so make sure to consult your doctor before and always consume quality products to avoid any bad experiences. 

High-CBD strains vs High-THC strains

For those of you who are just starting to consume cannabis, there are several options. In most dispensaries, you will be able to find CBD, or THC-rich strains and balanced strains, depending on why you’re consuming them there may be a better choice, so here are the main differences:

THC-rich Strains (10-30% THC and <1% CBD)

THC-rich strains often do not contain any CBD (or as little as possible) so they’re not recommended if you’re not comfortable with the psychoactive effects that THC provides. These strains are usually much stronger than any CBD strains and provide a full-on head high so watch out if you’re not used to it!

Balanced Strains (5-15% THC and 5-15% CBD)

Balanced strains contain the same amount of THC and CBD so the effect maybe a little bit more psychoactive but the side effects are much milder (if any). Strains like these are the best option if you still want to feel a light head-high but also want the pain relief effect that CBD offers.

CBD-rich Strains (5-20% CBD and <5% THC)

CBD-rich strains usually offer a very clear-headed and functional effect, without the euphoric high that cannabis is associated with. These strains are usually consumed by people who are sensitive to the side effects of THC such as anxiety, paranoia, and dizziness.

The Bottom Line

THC and CBD are similar compounds that can completely different effects but this will change according to your conditions and metabolism. Yes, THC can get you high, and CBD not so much but both can be used to treat certain conditions (if used correctly) so make sure you know why you need it and then know what you need.

You may be able to treat the same condition with both THC and CBD, and this is where the differences come in, both compounds bind to different receptors which can be more effective depending on your metabolism, either way, you may end up having a bad time if consumed in excess or if you consume what you weren’t supposed to so make sure you talk to a doctor first.