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CBD vs THC – Risks, Uses and Benefits

As the legalisation of cannabis continues to grow in developed countries around the world, so have the number of questions consumers ask regarding its primary constituents, CBD and THC.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the risks, uses, and benefits of the cannabis plant’s heavy-hitting compounds.

CBD vs THC – What Are the Differences?

CBD and THC are from the same family of plant, but the different genus gives them distinctly different characteristics, both in terms of their chemical makeup and benefits.

Which One Can Get You High?

THC binds with CB1 receptors in our brain which produces the renowned euphoric effect. Under no circumstances will CBD provide a high as it has no binding affinity to CB1 receptors. On the contrary, CBD has a calming effect and can actually reduce the unwanted side effects of THC.

Key Differences Between the Two

CBD provides a potentially de-stressing effect whereas THC evokes a euphoric high that makes the user feel in the moment and ultra happy.

How Are They Made?

Both CBD and THC come from the Cannabis Sativa plant. They are primarily located in the hair-like resinous glands in the flower. They can also be found in the leaves and stems.

CBD – an Explanation

Cannabidiol, or CBD as it is more commonly known, is one of over 113 cannabinoids (compounds) found in the cannabis plant.

It has also been linked with a huge array of benefits such as alleviating redness, irritation, stress and pain. Its non-intoxicating properties have also helped open doors to researchers worldwide.

THC – an Explanation

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the dominant cannabinoid in THC-rich cannabis plants and is best known for its euphoric effects. THC binds with CB1 receptors in our brain resulting in an almost instant high that can last for hours.
Although primarily used for recreational purposes, THC is currently being investigated for medicinal purposes.


CBD vs THC – What Are the Benefits?

The number of reported benefits of CBD and THC both scientifically and anecdotally is staggering. These compounds of cannabis are seen to have potential benefits for a number of conditions, as documented in the US National Library of Medicine. They can :

  • help alleviate redness and irritation
  • provide Stress Relief
  • provide Pain Relief

Helps Alleviate Irritation

CBD has been shown to help alleviate redness and skin irritation by suppressing cytokine production in the body.

Provides Stress Relief

CBD has been shown to provide stress relief in several human trials involving public speaking. CBD was shown to significantly reduce the subjects’ stress and nervousness as compared to those given the placebo, without any side effects.

Provides Pain Relief

CBD may regulate the perception of pain according to researchers at Belgrade University, who reviewed cannabinoid research from 1975 to 2018.

More clinical research is needed to convince the general public of the benefits of CBD and THC. If the results seen in animal studies are replicated successfully,  it could radically transform our health system.


CBD and THC – What Are the Side Effects?

Both CBD and THC are non-toxic and well-tolerated in humans. That being said, there are some side effects that are worth discussing. In particular, there is the case of the potential drug on drug interaction. Some of these side effects are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Paranoia
  • Drug on Drug Interaction
  • Tiredness

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is the most common side effect of THC. This is a temporary situation where the salivary glands in the mouth do not produce enough saliva, making it difficult to speak coherently.


Paranoia is a common side effect for THC users. Scientists are unsure about its root cause.  Interestingly, this elevated fear and stress may actually be alleviated by administering CBD.

Drug on Drug Interactions

Pharmaceutical drugs are metabolised in the liver before entering the bloodstream. CBD and THC can potentially increase or decrease certain drug concentrations (antidepressants, statins for example) As such anyone on medication should consult with a doctor prior to taking either cannabinoid. This may also reduce pharma drug side effects.


In human clinical trials, tiredness was reported as a side effect in people who received a large dose of CBD. Small doses of CBD may actually promote alertness. In terms of THC large doses of Indica strains, in particular, may result in tiredness. However, some people say that CBD provides good sleep support.

Tired Woman

Differences Between the Legality of THC & CBD

The benefits and side effects of both cannabinoids vary as much as their legality. In the UK CBD is 100% legal and available both on the high street and online. THC, on the other hand, is only available to people with certain illnesses.

Support from patients and their families and subsequent legalisation of medicinal THC-rich cannabis in the UK last year has led to people wanting to know more, such as how exactly do they work.

Interaction of THC/CBD With Receptors

The human body is full of receptors which are like gates that certain molecules have the key to open. CBD and THC interact with a whole host of receptors and in turn produce a multitude of physiological and cognitive effects.

What Ways Are There to Consume THC & CBD

Political, societal, and academic backing has prompted manufacturers to widen their CBD and THC products so every palate and person is accounted for.
No matter what the preferences,  there is a method for everyone to consume the cannabinoid of their choice with the most popular being:

  • Vaping
  • Tinctures
  • Edibles
  • Topicals


Smoking or vaping CBD or THC oil will give you a fast onset of effects and high bioavailability. This is one of the reasons that vaping, all over the world, has gotten so huge. It can also help people to stop smoking cigarettes. If you want, however, you can also buy and smoke CBD cigarettes which are becoming increasingly popular.


CBD tinctures are glass bottles with a dropper attached to the lid. Tinctures place drops under the tongue for fast absorption. It is probably the most popular way to consume CBD because of the ease of which you can ingest it. Many of the best CBD oil UK brands have a big range of tinctures as they are the highest sellers at the moment.


CBD edibles are simple and can include CBD capsules and gummy bears. However, the downside with these edibles is that it can take a while for the CBD to get into your bloodstream. This is especially noticeable when you compare it to vaping.


Topicals work for skincare right at the site of the problem. You can get CBD balms, creams and gels. A lot of people will use CBD creams for alleviating skin irritation and redness.

There are numerous other ways to consume these cannabinoids such as drinks, suppositories. The list is ever-growing.

CBD Oil Tincture

Conclusion on CBD vs THC

So CBD vs THC, both have medicinal properties and are linked with a wide range of potential health benefits. The most well-known difference between these cannabinoids is that THC produces a high-like euphoric effect whereas CBD has soothing properties. It might even offset some of the negative side effects of THC.

More human clinical trials are clearly required to determine if the vast range of effects seen in vivo and in vitro can be replicated in humans, and if it does it will surely transform worldwide healthcare forever for the better.