FEB 23, 2020 9:10 PM PST

Which is Better for you: CBD or THC?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Following the legalization of cannabis use, products derived from the plant are becoming more and more popular- especially those containing cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But what’s the difference between the two? How do you know which is best for you? 

To begin with, let’s look at THC. Derived from hemp (marijuana plants containing less than 0.3% THC) or marijuana (marijuana plants containing more than 0.3% THC), THC is marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. It works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. By binding with the cannabinoid 1 receptors in the brain, it produces a “high” or sense of euphoria. 

As such, in states where THC is approved for medical use, it is commonly used to treat pain, muscle spasticity, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, anxiety and nausea. Although none of its side effects are fatal, it is also known to increase people’s heart rates, encourage memory loss and leave users with a dry mouth and coordination issues while under its influence. 

While some may like these side effects, with its “high” being a main “pull factor” for many to even smoke marijuana in the first place, they may make others wary of consuming cannabis products. Thus, for these people in particular, products only containing CBD may not only be more approachable, but also more effective in solving their problems. 

Also extracted from hemp and marijuana, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning that, unlike THC, it is not responsible for the “high” marijuana is known for. Although it may weakly bind to cannabinoid receptors (CB1) in our endocannabinoid systems, it does not have any significant psychoactive effects, and may in fact dampen those experienced with THC. 

In particular, the compound is used to treat various conditions including seizures, inflammation, pain, psychosis and mental disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, migraines and nausea, as well as depression and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, relative to THC, CBD seems to have fewer side effects, generally being very well-tolerated, even in large doses. In fact, research suggests that any side effects from CBD usage are more likely to be due to its interactions with other drugs, as opposed to the compound itself. 



Sources: Healthline, WebMD and Medical News Today

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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