CBD vs THC – Which is Better? Learning the Basic Differences

Cannabidiol CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol THC are the most famous extracts of the marijuana plant and both of them belong to a unique class of compound which is known as cannabinoids. This article is dedicated to understanding the difference between CBD and THC, their similarities if there is any, their benefits and side effects, and which one is more commonly used and why?


Cannabinoids can affect the user by interacting with the specific brain receptors in the human body. The effects felt are dependent on levels or amounts of CBD and THC as well as the areas of the brain in which the cannabinoids work with each other. The areas of the brain such as mood, cognition, perception, memory, motivation, etc. and are the most affected receptors for cannabinoids.

However, research has revealed in recent years that CBD and THC have almost opposite actions in the brain. This write-up highlights the major differences between these two active ingredients of cannabis.

The Differences Between CBD and THC:

The differing effects of CBD and THC are seen in many areas, some of them are:

  • Psychoactive “High” Properties

The major difference between these two cannabinoids is their mind-altering or psychoactive potency. THC is widely known to possess strong psychoactive properties and it is responsible for giving the “high” feeling experienced by its users. This is the reason why most people use marijuana.

On the other hand, CBD is believed to have an anti-psychoactive property which seems to regulate the negative effects experienced with THC. This feature makes CBD appealing to be used in medicine.

  • Anxiety and Worry

Marijuana is known to activate feelings of anxiety, worry, and paranoia in some individuals especially when used in higher doses by a novice. This effect is highly attributed to THC. Research has shown that CBD is capable of counteracting the effects of anxiety caused by THC and may reduce anxiety when taken in the right manner.

Studies have shown that CBD can alleviate social anxiety during public performances such as public speaking and other anxiety-activating conditions.

  • Anti-Psychotic Properties

It is a well-known fact that THC seems to be responsible for triggering off the exacerbation of psychosis. According to research and evidence, CBD appears to possess antipsychotic properties which protect cannabis users from getting too high by alleviating the psychosis-like effects of THC. Hence, CBD is currently being tested as an anti-psychotic drug for schizophrenia patients.

  • Sleep

Drowsiness and sleepiness have been reported as the common side-effects experienced with the use of marijuana and one of the commonest reasons for using marijuana is its ability to help the user achieve quality sleep. Research in the role of marijuana in sleep, though unclear; has suggested that THC is responsible for drowsiness while CBD promotes the state of sleepiness or “the state of being awake”. This has made CBD a poor choice as a sleep aid.

  • Memory and Cognitive Ability

THC has been proven to have severe and prolonged negative effects on the areas of the brain that are vital for memory, learning, and cognition. Also, CBD may be protective to the brain as well as help to reduce impairments brought about by THC according to research.

Research findings show that marijuana with differing amounts of CBD but the same levels of THC can cause different levels of short-term impairment.

  • Legalization

Most countries have strict but clear laws for the use and consumption of cannabis and THC. However, the legal status of CBD seems unclear. For instance, in the United States of America, CBD is not legal technically because it is categorized as a Schedule 1 drug by federal law.

It was not until recently that Epidiolex was approved by the FDA to be used as a treatment for children with chronic epilepsy. Epidiolex is a pharmaceutical form of CBD.

Effects and Medical Applications of CBD and THC


The abundant nature CBD and its inability to produce psychoactive effect make it a very powerful ingredient for medical applications. However, the effects of CBD include:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Relief from nausea as well as convulsion
  • Reduced level of anxiety
  • Decrease in the symptoms of psychosis

The 40 percent of cannabis extract is being accounted for by CBD. Research shows that CBD may prove useful in treating the following health conditions:

  1. Anxiety disorder – CBD lowers social anxiety
  2. Schizophrenia – It decreases psychotic symptoms
  3. Depression – It brings about reduction in depressive symptoms
  4. Unpleasant effects of cancer treatment – It stimulates appetite and reduces pain and nausea.


Some common effects of THC are:

  • It heightens relaxation
  • THC alters sense of hearing, smell, and sight
  • Hunger
  • Reduction in aggression
  • Fatigue

The medical applications of THC are as follow:

  1. Multiple Sclerosis – THC reduces painful spasms and improves the working condition of the bladder.
  2. Unpleasant effects chemotherapy – It increases appetite for food and reduces vomiting as well as nausea
  • Spinal injury – Reduces uncontrollable tremors
  1. Glaucoma – Lessens the pressure in the eyes

Why is CBD used more often for medical treatments than THC?

CBD does not contain harmful cognitive effects of THC and as such can nullify the psychoactive effects of THC both in plant form and even when administered from extracts as well. Marijuana containing small amounts of CBD and higher levels of THC produces strong stone whereas plants with more quantity of CBD and small levels of THC creates  weaker energy.

On the other hand, THC is categorized as an illegal drug with both short and long term effects such as altered decision-making, impaired reasoning, etc. Additionally, severe use of THC is directly connected to abnormalities in the brain and heart.

So, all in all, the lesser heart issues of CBD coupled with its effectiveness has made it a better choice for medical treatments and applications than THC.

With all this information about CBD and THC, it is vital patients seek expert medical advice rather than self-medicating with marijuana.