JUN 04, 2020 8:20 AM PDT

Which is Better for Pain Relief: CBD or THC?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most famous compounds in cannabis. While CBD is known for its relaxing effects, THC is known for giving people a ‘high.’ Both are known for pain relief. But which is better? 

As cannabis is still a scheduled substance, studies that assess its therapeutic benefits are limited. Thus, how well CBD and THC can relieve pain is still an open debate. That said, some may prefer one substance over the other and find one to be more or less effective.

Studies have shown that CBD is best for inflammatory pain, such as that caused by arthritis or injuries. It is thought to reduce pain by blocking inflammatory mediators and lessening inflammation. 

Research has also shown that it may increase the effect of glycine receptors, which help to regulate pain at the spinal level and thus suppress neuropathic pain (often thought of as a ‘shooting’ or ‘burning’ pain). 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jeNJE8Rh28

Meanwhile, THC has been shown to relieve central and neuropathic pain, as well as pain experienced from cancer, AIDS, and fibromyalgia- especially when patients have shown resistance to other treatments. Like CBD, it also has some anti-inflammatory effects, and so can reduce pain by reducing inflammation.

Unlike CBD, however, it has also shown to impact serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate levels, known to modulate mood and communication between nerve cells. That means that it reduces the perception of pain rather than just reducing the physical cause of it.

As THC is known for giving a ‘high,’ it is generally recommended to people who want to take their mind off their pain while also experiencing relief. Meanwhile, CBD is recommended to those whose pain is primarily caused by inflammation and those who want to continue their day with regular mental function.


Sources: Analytical Cananbis, Creeky Joints, Healthline, WebMD, LabRoots

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
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