CBD vs. THC: What you need to know!

Do you know the difference between THC and CBD?

One of the biggest concerns is will it get me "high"?

CBD is gaining tremendous popularity (move over keto) and for good reason. There are many health benefits that come from CBD oil. So let’s talk about some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the difference between these two components of the plant.

The biggest question is "what is better for me?"

The Main Difference Between CBD and THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant, most commonly known as cannabis.

Both of these substances interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body and brain, but they differed dramatically in their effects.

It's important to note that CBD is non-psychoactive which means that it will not get the user high. Because of this trait, CBD appears more frequently than THC in dietary and natural supplements.

If you didn’t already know — CBD and THC have the exact same chemical makeup: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.

The two are nearly identical twins. Nearly.

What differentiates the two compounds, however, is the arrangement of a single atom, which you can see here.

Now you’re probably wondering, with such a microscopic difference, how different can CBD and THC be?

The short answer — very, very different — but let’s go over the details.

Cannabinoids and the ECS (Endocannabinoid System)

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what cannabinoids are and how they work with the body.

There are currently 85 known cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant, the most prominent of which are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

Scientists discovered the first cannabinoid receptor in 1988, and by 1993, they had identified a second receptor. In 1995, the two receptors were classified as the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are found abundantly in regions of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes such as memory, high cognition, emotion, and motor coordination, while CB2 receptors are found throughout the central nervous and immune systems.

The interaction between the CB1 and CB2 receptors with cannabinoids like CBD and THC is the catalyst for health benefits such as pain relief, anxiety relief, appetite stimulation, mood management and more.

Now this is where the different positions of that tiny atom come into play.

Because THC and CBD have different molecular structures, they do not interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same manner. This greatly differentiates the effects each has on the body, which is likely the biggest concern when comparing CBD to THC.

The Difference Between the CB1 and CB2 Receptors

The two major receptors of the endocannabinoid system are G-Coupled protein receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors exist in the central nervous system and are abundant in the brain. CB2 receptors have a limited presence in the brain and exist mostly in the periphery, including immune cells, reproductive organs, the gastrointestinal tract, and more. CB1 receptors help control neuronal synapses, whereas CB2 receptors exist primarily on inflammatory cells and have the potential for enormous effects on inflammatory responses.

These receptors modulate cellular function locally, but they also affect other cells through paracrine signaling. Therefore, multiple targets can be influenced by cannabinoids activity on CB1 and CB2 receptors.

This is where the major difference between CBD and THC happens. While CBD and THC both can bind to the CB2 receptor, they bind with the CB1 receptors in totally different ways.

Because of its molecular structure, THC is able to bind directly with CB1 receptors. When this bond is formed, the reaction creates signals that are sent to the brain, which results in the psychoactive effects of “getting high.”

In stark contrast, research shows that CBD does not bond directly with the CB1 receptor, and its presence can even negate the bond between THC and the CB1 receptors, effectively neutralizing the psychoactive effects induced by THC.

While THC certainly offers tremendous health benefits, its mind-altering effects aren’t preferred by everyone. CBD, on the other hand, can deliver many of the same benefits of THC without inducing its psychoactive effects.

CBD oil that contains the legal 0.3% THC offers up greater benefit possibly. A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Plant Science, for example, states that “the cause for cannabis synergy via the “entourage effect” is currently sufficiently strong as to suggest that one molecule is unlikely to match the therapeutic and even industrial potential of cannabis itself as a phytochemical factory.”

These findings indicate that CBD isolates with no THC may not be as effective as full-spectrum products that contain high amounts of CBD and trace amounts of THC. These very small amounts of THC will not leave you feeling “high” or intoxicated, but will work with CBD and other cannabinoid compounds in the product to have greater beneficial effects.


Because of its ability to induce mind-altering effects on the user, THC has been classified as an illegal substance in most countries around the world, including the United States.

The legal growth and sale of hemp would not be possible without the 2014 Farm Bill. As passed by the House, the bill includes the two-page Section 7606, entitled “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research” provision. This section states that regardless of any other federal law: “the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; and “the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education or State department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.”


On December 20, 2018, U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act, otherwise known as the 2018 Farm Bill. This act contained language specifically inserted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) that completely legalized industrial hemp and ended nearly 80 years of prohibition on the plant. Hemp is now completely exempt from the definition of the controlled substance act (CSA).

Furthermore, the 2018 farm bill clarified the definition of hemp — often limited to fiber and seed — to include the entire plant, specifically the floral parts and cannabinoids derived from it. This put into motion the legal framework for the already burgeoning marketplace for hemp and CBD extracts.

So why is hemp legal, but not marijuana? It’s all about the amount of THC that’s present in the plant and plant-based product. Because industrial hemp, which is used to make CBD oil and hemp oil, contains less than 0.3% THC, it’s considered legal federally. There are some restrictions, however, so hemp farmers and manufacturers have to follow a strict set of guidelines. Plus, states have different regulatory programs that residents need to be made aware of in order produce, sell and use hemp products legally.

The 2018 farm bill also opened up the ability for tribal lands to grow hemp and made provisions for USDA crop insurance and grants.

Bottom line: If you’re still asking “is CBD oil legal?” The answer is yes, federal laws state that hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC can be used legally.


I hope this clears up some of the mystery surrounding the difference between CBD and THC. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. Both CBD and THC offer up many health benefits to the human body.

To some, the psychoactive effects of THC could be a benefit instead of a negative side effect. It’s all based on the needs of the individual.

Here's an easy to see breakdown on the Endocannabinoid System and the benefits that separate CBD and THC:


  • Present in all humansPresent in all vertebrates and many invertebrates

  • Receptors exist throughout the body (brain, digestive system, lymphatic system)

  • Responsible for homeostasis; regulation of breath, inflammation, immune response, mood, pain, GI motility, neuroprotection, hormonal balance, sleep/wake cycle, blood pressure, tumor surveillance, and reproduction

  • Taught in only 13% of medical, nursing and pharmacy programs

  • Can be activated by going for a run, i.e. “runner’s high”

  • May be activated during chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture

  • Consists of CB1 & CB2 receptors

CBD Benefits

  • Relieves pain

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Improves mood

  • Indirectly improves depression

  • Improves anxiety, stress and PTSD

  • Relieves nausea

  • Relieves headaches and migraines

  • Reduces seizures

  • May work as anti-cancer agent and reduce tumor growth

  • Does not produce intoxicating "psychoactive" effects

THC Benefits

  • Relieves pain

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Relaxes nervous system

  • Reduces spasms

  • Relieves nausea

  • Relieves headaches and migraines

  • Fights depressionIncreases appetite

  • Fights insomnia

  • May work as anti-cancer agent and reduce tumor growth

  • Can have euphoric and intoxicating effects, "the high"

Research studies indicate that CBD may be useful in helping with:

To learn more about why we carry and recommend Ananda Hemp click here.


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