CBD Vs THC: A Comprehensive Comparison

Written by Nishant Garund
Medically Reviewed by Dr.Varuni Agarwal

Dr. Varuni Agarwal is an esteemed Ayurvedic physician specializing in
diagnosing diseases through Ayurvedic dosha imbalances and providing personalized treatments. She focuses on ahara (diet) and vihara (lifestyle) to manage and heal various ailments.

CBD Vs THC: A Comprehensive Comparison

For many wanting to explore the therapeutic potential of the humble hemp, things might be confusing. The hemp plant contains cannabinoids, which are essentially chemical compounds. CBD and THC are two of the many chemical compounds found in hemp. 

In this blog, we will learn about some of the major differences and similarities between CBD and THC. We will also explore the therapeutic potential, properties, and potential side-effects of both of these compounds. 

 Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about CBD vs THC. 

CBD Vs THC: Similarities and Differences

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant. On the contrary, THC, or Dellta-9 tetrahydrocannabidiol, is a psychoactive compound. Both CBD and THC have their own therapeutic benefits and can be used solely or in different combinations to meet different requirements.

Psychoactive effect 

Although the chemical structures of CBD and THC differ ever so slightly, THC is psychoactive in nature while CBD is not. THC causes a psychoactive effect by binding with the CB1 receptors in the brain.

On the other hand, CBD does not bond as strongly with the CB1 receptor, and has more of a relaxing effect without the intoxication. 

CBD Vs THC: Source

Although CBD and THC are both found in the Cannabis plant, some varieties have a higher level of THC, while others have a higher concentration of CBD. The terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp are often used interchangeably, and this can be confusing for many.

To make things clear, cannabis has several varieties, and hemp and marijuana are two of the most popular varieties of hemp. 

Hemp: Hemp usually has a low THC content and a higher CBD content. Hemp is the source of not only hemp seed oil and CBD oil but is also cultivated for industrial purposes, as all parts of the hemp plant find usage for making textiles, paper, bioplastics, and even biofuel.

Marijuana: With a higher THC level, Marijuana is known for its medicinal and recreational uses. However, not many people know that even THC boasts many health benefits. Since it causes a euphoric “high”, it should only be taken under medical supervision.

Most CBD products are derived from industrial hemp, which contains a higher quantity of CBD and a lower quantity of THC.

CBD Vs THC: Legality 

CBD is legal in most parts of the world, including India. CBD is commonly derived from hemp, which contains a higher amount of CBD compared to marijuana.

In India, as per the NDPS Act, 1985, CBD that is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC is legal and can be sold without a prescription.

On the other hand, CBD products such as oils, edibles, candies, or tinctures that contain more than 0.3% THC require a prescription, as these can only be sold for medical uses. This includes full-spectrum hemp tinctures that contain more than 0.3% THC.

CBD Vs THC: Comparing the Benefits

CBD Vs THC: Comparing the Benefits

Both CBD and THC hold immense therapeutic potential. However, CBD tends to be better tolerated, mostly due to its lack of psychoactive effects.

THC shows great potential in pain management, appetite regulation, and reducing nausea, among other benefits. It is often administered to people suffering from chronic conditions and diseases.

CBD has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy. In addition, it can also be used to promote relaxation. This makes CBD a good option for people struggling with anxiety and stress. The anti-inflammatory effect of CBD makes it a good option for people who want to reap the benefits of hemp without the psychoactive effects.

When CBD and THC are used in combination, they lead to something known as the ‘Entourage effect’. The entourage effect causes CBD and THC to complement each other’s therapeutic potential. Such an entourage effect can be obtained by using full-spectrum CBD products since they contain both CBD and THC.

CBD Vs THC: Comparing the Potential Side Effects

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) may interact differently with the body’s endocannabinoid system and other receptors, which can lead to some adverse effects. It’s crucial to remember that each person’s reaction to these compounds will be unique, and individual experiences may vary.

Here are some common side effects associated with CBD and THC:

Some common side effects of CBD

  • CBD can cause dry mouth as it hampers the secretion of saliva.
  • CBD can cause drowsiness and lethargy, depending on the CBD dosage.
  • While CBD is used to regulate appetite, at times it can cause an undesirable effect on a person’s appetite. CBD can affect the appetite by either increasing or decreasing it.
  • When taken in high doses, CBD can cause diarrhoea and stomach discomfort.
  • CBD has the potential to interact with certain drugs by influencing how the body metabolises them, which could give rise to negative side effects. If you’re on any other medications, you should talk to your doctor before using CBD.

Some Common Side effects of THC

  • THC produces a euphoric or “high” experience, which many individuals find unpleasant. 
  • THC’s psychoactive effect can impair cognitive function, memory, and coordination, making it difficult to perform duties such as driving or operating machinery.
  • THC may cause heightened anxiety or paranoia in some users.
  • THC has the ability to slightly increase the heart rate. As a result, people with specific heart diseases should avoid it.
  • THC, like CBD, can create a dry mouth sensation.
  • THC can induce redness in your eyes by dilating the blood vessels in your eyes.

Because of THC’s psychoactive nature, the adverse effects of THC tend to be more severe than those of CBD. CBD, on the other hand, is generally well tolerated by most people, and serious side effects are uncommon.

As with any supplement or prescription, CBD and THC products must be used cautiously and in moderation. If you encounter any worrying or severe adverse effects, it is best to quit using it and seek advice from a healthcare practitioner. Furthermore, the legality and regulations governing CBD and THC products differ by region, so it’s critical to be aware of local laws and standards before using them.

CBD Vs THC: Can drug tests detect THC and CBD?

THC can be found in drug tests, and its presence in some professions or situations, particularly when operating heavy machinery or driving, may raise legal concerns.

CBD products with little or trace quantities of THC are less likely to elicit positive drug tests, while some low-quality products may include enough THC to cause an issue.

CBD vs THC: Addiction Potential

Since CBD does not cause a psychoactive effect, it has little to no potential for addiction. On the other hand, THC has a psychoactive effect and therefore can be habit forming. Per se, neither CBD nor THC have been found to be “addictive”, and therefore have a very low abuse potential. 

Does CBD oil contain THC?

THC can be present in CBD oil, but it depends on where it comes from and how it is extracted. CBD oil comes in three different varieties: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. 

CBD Isolate is completely devoid of other cannabinoids and is therefore pure CBD oil. Usually, it is extracted from hemp plants with a THC content of 0.3% or less. Products made from CBD isolate do not contain any THC.

Broad-Spectrum CBD does not contain any THC, but it does contain a variety of cannabinoids that are present in the cannabis plant. During the extraction process, the THC is removed, leaving behind CBD and other compounds.

Full-spectrum CBD oil includes CBD, in addition to THC and other cannabinoids. If a CBD oil contains more than 0.3% THC, you might need a prescription to buy it, depending on where you live.

Choose CBD isolate or broad-spectrum products if you want to completely avoid THC, as they should not contain any detectable THC.

The Entourage Effect

Cannabinoids like CBD and THC have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective properties.

Terpenes, which are aromatic compounds found in plants, have their own therapeutic properties and can also influence how cannabinoids interact with the body’s receptors.

When these different compounds work together, they can enhance and complement each other’s effects, leading to potentially greater therapeutic benefits than when isolated compounds are used alone. 

This is known as the ‘Entourage effect”. In short, the entourage effect of full-spectrum CBD refers to the synergistic interaction between various compounds found in the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals.

How to use CBD oil?

CBD Oil can be found in the form of tinctures that contain liquid extracts of CBD, usually taken sublingually (under the tongue) with a dropper for faster absorption. CBD tinctures happen to be the most popular way of consuming CBD.

Pre-measured CBD doses are also available in pill or capsule form and can be taken orally with water. Other forms in which CBD can be found include various forms of edibles and vape products.

In addition, CBD-infused topical creams, lotions, or balms can be applied directly to the skin for localised relief. Since the amount of THC can vary depending on the product type and composition, it is essential to follow the recommended CBD dosage and local regulations when using CBD or THC products.


Understanding the distinctions between CBD and THC is critical for anyone hoping to reap the benefits of hemp-based products. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it provides a more tolerable experience, making it suitable for a variety of therapeutic applications. THC, on the other hand, despite being psychoactive, shows promising potential in specific medical scenarios. The key is to select the appropriate product and dosage based on individual needs.

Before incorporating CBD or THC into one’s wellness routine, as with any supplement or medication, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Finally, the CBD Vs THC debate should not be about which compound is superior but about how to use each compound’s unique properties to achieve holistic health and well-being.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is high THC and CBD good?

High THC offers strong psychoactive effects, potentially leading to euphoria and relaxation, but can also cause impairment. CBD is non-psychoactive, known for potential therapeutic benefits like anxiety and pain relief. Balance depends on desired effects and individual preferences and requirements.

Q. What does more CBD than THC do?

More CBD than THC yields a milder, less psychoactive experience. CBD can counteract THC’s negative effects like anxiety, offering relaxation and therapeutic benefits suitable for those seeking relief without strong intoxication. Effects depend on ratios and individual responses.

Q. What do CBD and THC do together?

CBD and THC interact synergistically, modulating each other’s effects. CBD can temper THC’s psychoactivity, reducing anxiety and potential impairment. The combination may offer a balanced experience with the therapeutic benefits of both cannabinoids. The ratio influences the overall effect, catering to individual preferences and desired outcomes.

Q.  Is CBD oil legal if THC is illegal?

Legality depends on location. In some places, CBD oil derived from hemp (with low THC content) is legal even if marijuana with higher THC content is not. It's crucial to check the laws in your area.

Q. Can I use CBD and THC together?

Yes, some people use products containing both CBD and THC. CBD may help mitigate some of the psychoactive effects of THC. However, this is not always the case, and it's best to consult a doctor before using any cannabis product.


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