The Difference Between CBD and THC

The Difference Between CBD and THC


CBD can be confusing. When I first heard about it, I  thought it was just another delivery system for THC and a means of getting high. No judgment about that, but I didn’t really understand the health benefits of CBD until I investigated further. Then I discovered that CBD is different from THC! While they are the two most abundant cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, THC is the one that has a psychoactive or euphoric effect, while CBD does not get you high.

CBD does, however, help you to feel good. It relieves anxiety and enhances mood, because of its actions on your chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters. On the other hand, recreational marijuana is bred to be high in THC because its purpose is to get you high! 

CBD is available from many retail sources, while marijuana is sold only in licensed dispensaries. 

While THC and CBD share similarities, and both have medicinal effects, there are some key differences between the two compounds.

THC content:

There’s a lot of confusion between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana. Both derived from the cannabis plant, they are bred into two different lines. Hemp has strong, tall, and narrow stalks for making rope, paper, and cloth. The marijuana plant, on the other hand, is short with bushy leaves and has been bred to bear an abundance of flowers that yield THC.  Hemp-derived CBD, by definition has a THC content of .3% or less. It’s far from sufficient to get you high. 


CBD content:

Also, you’ll see CBD referred to as Hemp Oil Extract, which is what we call ours because it’s not only CBD: it contains other cannabinoids,  and a variety of healing compounds including terpenes such as beta caryophyllene, that have medicinal value in their own right. This produces the full entourage or synergistic effect. 


Clinical Use:

CBD has been a great boon to my psychiatric practice, where I have often prescribed supplements that contain the precursors to the various neurotransmitters. Now, CBD enhances and helps to balance them as needed.


THC Issues:

In times past, when people smoked cannabis, the THC  was counter- balanced by the naturally occurring higher CBD content. And we didn’t see a lot of the problems that we’re seeing now. Susceptible individuals, often upon having their first experience, get quite irritable, anxious, even paranoid, and psychotic. They’re getting too high, too fast, and it’s not a good feeling. This is because the THC has facilitated the release of too much of the activating neurotransmitter, dopamine. There is not enough CBD in the plant that they’re smoking, or ingesting, to neutralize that powerful THC effect.


CBD to Treat THC Reaction:

We have an excellent natural treatment for this over-reaction to THC, namely CBD, which works fairly quickly to help neutralize it and bring them down. I far prefer that to their going to the emergency room and being injected with strong psychiatric medication, with its attendant side effects. It will subdue them, but it’s not addressing the problem at the root cause. It may be necessary in the short term, but not ongoing.

Longer-term, the individual will still need CBD to help balance their brain chemistry. It can be for a shorter or longer period, depending on the person’s endocannabinoid level, and other metabolic factors. 

The problem is, they are often prescribed psychotropic medication going forward, with all its pitfalls: side effects, brain changes, and difficulty getting off them. Often there is a downward spiral with the individual never recovering, since ongoing use of medication causes brain changes. These are often young people too, who may end up dropping out of school and having their entire lives go south. 

In functional medicine, we look for the root cause—restoring balance in the brain and not just treating symptoms. So treating with CBD and any needed psychotherapy and other nutritional adjustments can help bring them around. 


Conclusion: At the end of the day, CBD and THC are both major constituent cannabinoids of the cannabis plant. You can get excellent medicinal results from CBD, without the THC. They are each unique and you should be assessed individually before you decide on which is best for your needs. For THC, ask a knowledgeable professional about the type and dose of the THC product. It can legally be obtained only as a licensed dispensary. CBD is available from many sources. Choose carefully!

Share this post