CBD vs THC; What’s the Difference?

CBD vs THC; What’s the Difference?

As we uncover more research about the potential benefits of hemp, more and more people become interested in what it may have to offer them. At first it can be confusing, especially when you consider that there are hundreds of active compounds in the cannabis plant.

Two of the most talked about compounds in the industry are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). They are both cannabinoids, but their use and function in the body varies greatly.

Here we will explain a very simple version of what these compounds are and how they affect the human body. This can help sort out any confusion around the compounds.


Much of the confusion surrounding these two compounds may come from how similar they actually are in structure. Both compounds have the exact same chemical makeup with only sight variations. However, these slight variations make all the difference in how they interact with the body.

The human body has what is called an endocannabinoid system, which helps maintain various vital functions in the body. Both THC and CBD act on this system in one way or another. This is what produces the notable effects in each compound.

Psychoactive compounds

One of the most notable differences in THC and CBD appears in how the person feels when they use them. THC is the main intoxicating compound in cannabis. It is responsible for the feeling of euphoria, or “high” that people feel when ingesting it.

CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, so it does not produce this high. In many cases CBD may actually suppress the high experienced from THC, as it blocks the compound from reaching the right receptors in the brain.

Side effects

Ingesting THC may also cause some side effects, depending on the dose and frequency, as well as a person’s personal sensitivity levels. Common side effects include things like anxiety or paranoia, and the side effects usually go away as the effect of the compound wears off.

CBD generally does not produce side effects when used at regular doses. Some sensitive people may have side effects when using CBD oils, including things like diarrhea and fatigue. Again, these side effects tend to go away as the compound wears off.

Both these compounds may also interact with certain medications or affect how the body uses these medications.

Are they legal?

The federal government of the United States lists all forms of cannabis as illegal substances. However, the 2014 US Farm Bill and subsequent Omnibus legislation legalized hemp-derived CBD grown under State Department of Agriculture (SDOA) oversight.

The fact that specific states legalize cannabis for either medical or recreational use, creates confusion and a grey area regarding CBD.  Though technically products containing only hemp derived CBD produced as part of SDOA programs are legal.

The main difference

The main difference between CBD and THC is how they interact in the body. THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, and is what makes a person feel “high”.

CBD on the other hand does not affect the brain in the same way. There is no altered state of mind from ingesting CBD, thought it may still help relieve mild anxiety and inflammation from exercise.

While THC also offers some potential for medical benefits for the body, most of these same medical benefits are also found in CBD – without the high and other possible side effects.

Hemp-driven CBD

What is Hemp-Derived CBD?

It seems like there is a new miracle compound out every week. Luckily, cannabidiol, or CBD is not a new health fad. CBD is the non-intoxicating compound found in hemp that may have the potential to help with a number of health issues and is currently legal in all states per the US Farm Bill.

Here we will give a brief overview of the compound, as well as how it may help the body.

What is CBD

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of the popular cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant.

CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not alter a person’s state of mind or make them feel “high”.  In fact, there is no way to get high from ingesting CBD.

CBD enters the body through ingesting products containing the compound, such as CBD oil. The compound may be smoked, eaten, or added to various goodies such as baked goods, gummy bears, and the like.

How CBD works

CBD acts on the body’s own endocannabinoid receptors. The body contains two cannabinoid receptors, labeled CB1 and CB2. CBD mainly activates the CB2 receptor, which is responsible for the many potential benefits of the compound.

Potential benefits

People who use CBD will recommend the compound for a number of potential benefits. New advancements in medical research allow for more studies to be done on CBD, but so far the results indicate a few potential benefits for the compound, including:

Relief – while not yet proven, CBD is currently being studied to determine its ability to reduce chronic pain

Anxiety – while not yet proven, CBD is currently being studied to determine its ability to reduce anxiety

Inflammation – CBD is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is being studied to determine its ability to broadly address inflammation

Neurological Disorders / Brain Trauma – Cannabinoids were patented by the US Dept. of Health as “neuroprotectants”

Antioxidant – Cannabinoids were patented by the US Dept. of Health as “antioxidants”

Substance abuse – being non-psychoactive in nature, CBD may help the brains of people dealing with addictions

These are just some the most popular potential benefits.

Is CBD safe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently ruled that CBD is harmless and non-addictive. For the most part, CBD is safe to take and has little risk for side effects. Some especially sensitive people may experience fatigue with heavy doses.

Importantly, CBD may interact with many drugs. Anyone who is considering taking CBD should talk to their doctor and review all medications they are taking.

It is also important to ensure the CBD is coming from a trusted, high-quality source.  Preferably the CBD is derived from US grown hemp and tested by 3rd parties for safety and purity.

The Science behind CBD

In 2003, the US Department of Health and Human Services patented “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”  Five years ago, Dr. Sanjay Gupta helped create the CBD craze by famously changing his mind on the topic after witnessing the miraculous impact CBD had on the life of a desperate little girl, and in 2018 the FDA approved CBD isolate for a specific use case.

However, largely because of the legal grey area surrounding CBD products, the compound is just beginning to truly gain ground medically. This is likely why it is becoming so popular – more journals are able to learn more about it thanks to evolving laws in the United States in general.

Luckily, as the compound is researched, we are likely to find more concrete evidence into how we can use the compound to benefit our health. Our understanding of the potential for CBD is just beginning!