What are the Key Differences between THC and CBD?

What are the Key Differences between THC and CBD

By far the oldest crop cultivated for medicinal value is cannabis. It is receiving a rising tide of media publicity, cultural acclaim, and attention from the scientific and medical community and for good reason. The organic compounds found in cannabis have a special connection to important processes that help individuals adapt to the environment effectively.

Scientists have identified 100 such organic compounds and called them cannabinoids. Two of these cannabinoids are the primary subjects of research, investigation, and even controversy because of their impacts on human health and awareness.

Those looking to improve their health with these time-tested natural compounds must understand the differences between the cannabinoids they select. Highlighted below is a closer look at the differences between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

marijuana plantTetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is the cannabinoid that has made marijuana and the entire cannabis family famous and, for a short time longer, illegal in some places. This compound is what provides the signature high experienced after ingesting or smoking certain cannabis-infused products or the bud (flower) of the plant itself.

THC differs from CBD in its capacity to activate the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. THC has the capacity to bind well with the cannabinoid receptors and imitates the activity of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that improves the mood and plays a role in motivation.

THC introduced to the body enters the brain and encourages the production of dopamine, another “feel good” neurotransmitter that increases the feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Increased appetite is another important element of THC that has been used to improve the diets of patients undergoing chemotherapy.

In addition to the psychoactive properties, THC also possesses important health benefits and has been studied for its unique capacity to aid a variety of ailments:1,2

Provides pain relief
Eases nausea and vomiting
Protects brain cells
Promotes better sleep
Increases appetite
Enhances senses
Acts as an antibacterial
Acts as an antioxidant
Reduces inflammation
Relaxes muscles

woman putting CBD oil in mouthCannabidiol (CBD)

THC enters the body and begins activating endocannabinoid receptors in the same way that the body’s own endocannabinoids do. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t bind well with these receptors and provides a different effect.

CBD has an indirect effect on these receptors and encourages the body to begin increasing the production of its own endocannabinoids. CBD also improves the efficacy of these endocannabinoids by disrupting their breakdown.

Through their special interface with endocannabinoid receptors, THC and CBD actually oppose each other in their effects on the body. As THC works to activate the receptors of the body and send physiological conditions slightly and pleasantly awry, CBD modulates the activities of the same receptors and works to reduce the psychoactive properties of THC.  

This interaction between organic compounds has been dubbed the “entourage effect” and an important thing to consider when looking to address health with natural supplements. The right cannabinoid-infused product will contain the correct THC to CBD ratio and provide benefits without compromising your acute mental function.  

Certain strains of cannabis plants have been cultivated for their specifically lower THC levels and considerably higher CBD levels. Such a product will provide the full list of health benefits from both cannabinoids with none of the mind-bending effects that can sometimes hamper professional efficacy. Some of the most health benefits found in CBD include:3,4

  • Relieves anxiety
    Suppresses seizure activity
    Protects the neurons in the brain
    Reduces nausea and vomiting
    Combats inflammation and pain


In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, there is a great deal of evidence, both medical and anecdotal, suggesting cannabinoids may have far-reaching implications to better physical and mental health. Cannabinoids and medications derived from and imitating cannabinoids are on the cutting edge of medical research into treatments for balancing modern life and improving health.

CBD and THC have a remarkable impact on balancing health and improving mental function. Nevertheless, anyone with chronic medical conditions, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers should always pursue treatment with cannabis under recommendation from a medical professional.  

Photo credits: InfinityTime/shutterstock.com, MartinGaal/shutterstock.com, elizabethmphl/shutterstock.com

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By Krista Burton

Krista is an aromatherapy enthusiast who enjoys writing and researching about all the new aromatherapy trends. When she’s not busy writing and researching you can find her dreaming about being on the beach.

Favorite MONQ blend: Ocean

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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