Does CBD work only when combined with THC? Find out how THC and CBD work individually and when combined with other cannabinoids in this article. Cornbread Hemp's full spectrum, organic CBD gummies, tinctures, and topicals feel like cannabis you’d get off a dispensary shelf. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, but they can have differing effects on the body. Learn more about the differences in the effects and benefits of CBD vs, THC.
CBD Oil With THC or Without? What You Need to Know
CBD, or cannabidiol, has become the most popular of all cannabinoids because it doesn’t get you high like its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
But what happens when you combine it with THC?
Although THC is psychoactive, some people may even require medications containing high doses of THC. In such cases, consuming products containing a combination of both cannabinoids is ideal.
Understanding the type of cannabis extract you need can get confusing very fast, especially with many terms thrown around. So, here’s an article to help clear your doubts and much more.
You will learn everything about CBD oil with THC and whether they can work independently or not. You will also learn about the benefits of using both together or isolates (containing only one cannabinoid), legalization, side effects, and much more.
Does CBD Need THC to Work?
The short answer is no. CBD does not need THC to work. However, it gets a bit complicated since they both have a lot more to offer when combined.
When you understand the entourage effect, everything makes more sense. We will get to this later on.
Many studies emerging now show that CBD can work as a stand-alone cannabinoid. Moreover, it’s been found effective for treating notoriously difficult to treat conditions such as Dravet’s syndrome.
A clinical trial conducted in 2017 revealed that isolated CBD minimized seizures by at least half in about 43% of the volunteers . Although a single trial is not considered absolute proof, it shows how CBD can be used alone with promising benefits.
THC-free products have gained traction because CBD can effectively alleviate many conditions, including anxiety, diabetes, and neurological disorders.
However, many people may benefit from THC to help with specific issues like glaucoma, insomnia, increasing appetite during chemotherapy, etc. — this is where you may want to switch from CBD to THC.
Suppose you cannot use THC at all due to legal complications, or you have an intolerance to the compound. In that case, you can opt for broad-spectrum products containing a host of other minor cannabinoids, including CBN, CBG, and CBC, compared to full-spectrum containing trace amounts of THC.
Relationship Between CBD and THC
There’s a reason why CBD and THC are called the yin and yang of cannabis.
The significant difference is that while THC in high doses produces some intoxicating effects, including paranoia and hallucination, CBD is non-psychoactive with negligible side effects.
Here’s a closer look at both compounds and how you can use them to maximize the benefits of your cannabis treatment.
What is THC?
Also known as Delta 9 THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the primary psychotropic cannabinoid produced in cannabis. Its concentration in plants also determines whether it’s considered a marijuana plant or a hemp plant. In North America, cannabis plants containing more than 0.3% THC by dry weight are considered marijuana and may be illegal in some regions.
The most noticeable effect of THC is the euphoric sensation it brings by interacting with CB1 receptors in the brain that triggers the release of dopamine. Dopamine plays a crucial role in regulating your feelings, moods, and pleasure.
What is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, offers many of the health benefits THC offers, but it is non-psychoactive and the second most abundant cannabinoid produced by the plant. Usually derived from the hemp plant, it’s used to treat a variety of conditions.
How CBD & THC Work
THC and CBD have chemical structures that are very similar to the endocannabinoids present in the human body.
Now, what are endocannabinoids? Your body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a complex biological network consisting of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters), and enzymes that metabolize them.
Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that send signals to regulate many vital processes, including fertility, immunity, the nervous system, etc. These endocannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout the body to maintain homeostasis (balance). So whether it’s regulating pain, stress, or mood, they play a crucial role in how your body reacts to the environment around you.
Since THC and CBD display chemical structures that mimic the body’s natural endocannabinoids, THC binds to the receptors present in the body and causes various physiological and psychological responses.
Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure — 2 Oxygen, 30 Hydrogen, and 20 Carbon atoms — but they are arranged slightly differently.
While THC binds directly to the receptors, CBD does it indirectly. CBD affects how the receptors send signals, explaining why it doesn’t produce psychoactive effects like THC. Thus, CBD works not only to reduce painful inflammation but also to bolster the immune system and regulate anxiety and depression.
CBD inhibits enzymes responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids and also elevates endocannabinoid levels produced by the body naturally.
Interestingly, it influences even non-cannabinoid receptors, including opioid receptors sensitive to various neurotransmitters present in the brain. Like THC, CBD also interacts with dopamine receptors that regulate cognitive and motivational behavior.
Benefits of CBD & THC Together
You may have heard various misinformation about CBD‘s effectiveness without THC or other compounds roaming around the internet. However, numerous studies show that CBD and THC can help cope with several issues when used as a combination.
CBD can combat anxiety, migraines, depression, and nausea or vomiting. THC can produce a relaxing or drowsy effect that can help you with specific challenges like insomnia. THC has a cerebral impact, while CBD works on your body and soothes your stressed muscles.
So, what happens when they are combined?
Scientists term this as the “entourage effect.” It’s a mechanism where the plant’s naturally occurring cannabinoids work in synergy to produce more potent and well-balanced effects compared to what one concentrated or isolated compound can do on its own. All the cannabinoids work as a unit to reduce the psychotropic effects produced by THC.
CBD is said to be more effective when it gets help from other cannabinoids and terpenes produced in every area of the plant. That being
Meaning CBD performs well along with the other members of the band rather than performing solo.
How to Use CBD Oil With THC
You can use CBD oil with THC by consuming full-spectrum products.
Cannabis extracts can be divided into 3 categories:
- CBD isolates
CBD isolates contain nothing but one specific cannabinoid (usually CBD).
Full-spectrum includes a mixture of all cannabinoids and terpenes naturally present in CBD oil.
Broad-spectrum contains all cannabinoids and terpenes except THC.
Many companies sell all three types of products in various forms, including capsules, oils, tinctures, gummies, and a lot more.
If you plan to use full-spectrum products, you will need to pay special attention to the onset of the time required for the cannabinoids to start working, dosage, specific areas of the body they travel (pathway), and the duration until the effects last.
Maximizing the efficacy of CBD also requires scheduling your daily intake as the amount of CBD and the time of the day can affect how your body responds to CBD oil.
Although many people tend to avoid THC altogether, certain conditions may need higher doses. Of course, your physician will be a better judge of the dosage you need.
Let’s take a look at all types of products along with their effects.
CBD & THC Edibles
- Onset – 30–60 minutes
- Pathway – Edibles travel to the stomach first, then to the liver, and later circulated in the bloodstream.
- Dosage – Starts from a minimum of 1 mg up to 500 mg for extreme measures.
- Duration – Depends on the dosage, but the effects should subside within 6-12 hours.
Edibles are slow to work because the cannabinoids first travel through the digestive system and are then sent to the liver for processing. Once the liver breaks down the cannabinoids further, it enters the bloodstream.
You may also feel a pronounced high when the liver metabolizes the cannabinoids. While small doses are best for inexperienced beginners, higher doses above 100 mg are for those who have experimented with THC. It’s used only for severe conditions requiring urgent medical attention.
The same theory applies to oils and tinctures because it takes time for the liver to process it. Although the effects last longer, they are weaker compared to other methods of consumption.
If you want the effects to kick in a little faster, try sublingual absorption that begins working within 15 minutes. You could do this by placing drops of oils or tinctures under the tongue. Wait until it dissolves in salivary secretions naturally. Sublingual absorption does not go through the liver but is absorbed quickly by the oral mucosa, making it much more effective.
You will feel the effects at least one hour after consuming an edible. Some may even take longer to start working, which is why you should never consume another edible in succession, with a wrong assumption that the first one isn’t working.
If your doctor prescribes high-THC medication, you should start with the lowest dose to understand your tolerance.
CBD & THC Inhalation
- Onset – 5 – 15 minutes
- Pathway – The smoke or vapor travels to the lungs and circulates to the rest of the body.
- Dosage – Depends on the vape or bud you’re vaping or smoking, which is usually a gram of cannabis.
- Duration – Depends on the dosage, but the effects should subside within 1 – 2 hours.
Inhalation refers to smoking or vaping. Not all “oils” are made for vaping, so choose accordingly.
Inhalation is the fastest way of absorbing cannabinoids as it enters the bloodstream via the oxygen exchange pathway in the lungs.
You will feel the effects as soon as you inhale one puff, but the disadvantage is that the effects fade away quickly. Therefore, inhalation works best for those looking for quick relief from chronic conditions, including pain.
Can Your CBD Product Contain THC?
Whether or not your CBD contains THC will depend on the extract you’ve purchased.
Isolates and broad-spectrum extracts should contain 0% THC.
Unfortunately, we can’t always take a company’s word for this, so it’s best practice to read the independent lab testing on its site to ensure that it contains the advertised cannabinoid levels.
Some products contain THC in psychoactive concentrations. Inspect the bottle before you buy it — there should be a note saying 0% THC or THC free if it’s a pure CBD product.
Sometimes you’ll find products that list a ratio of 1:1, 1:2, or 1:10 — this is a strong indicator that the bottle you’re looking at contains THC. These ratios usually refer to the concentration of CBD to THC, so a 1:1 ratio would have just as much THC as CBD inside the bottle. These products will be psychoactive.
The laws surrounding THC can vary from state to state, so always refer to your local laws before purchasing a product online that may contain even traces of THC.
Is CBD Oil with THC Legal?
As long as the percentage of THC remains below 0.3%, the product is federally legal according to the 2018 Farm Bill .
The legality also differs from one state to another, and while most states have great medical programs, states like Nebraska do not support them. Some states even allow recreational use, which means you can buy products that contain both CBD and THC legally without a medical license.
Summary: CBD Oil With THC
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that regulates the endocannabinoid system. Not only does it inhibit the breakdown of endocannabinoids, but it also helps to increase their production in the body. CBD influences even non-cannabinoid receptors and produces many positive effects on both the brain and the body.
On the other hand, THC is a potent cannabinoid with positive effects too, but it’s infamous for the psychoactive “high” it produces.
What happens when you combine them both?
You will undoubtedly benefit even if you ingest isolated CBD, but the entourage effect unlocks much more potential to heal your body.
Full-spectrum products offer well-balanced effects compared to broad-spectrum and isolated products. They are more robust and also work synergistically to reduce the psychotropic effects THC produces.
Overall, it’s safe to say that using CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids combined seems like a better option. This is because they encapsulate the goodness of the entire plant. However, if you cannot use THC for various reasons, you can use isolated and broad-spectrum extracts with 0% THC.
- Devinsky, O., Nabbout, R., Miller, I., Laux, L., Zolnowska, M., Wright, S., & Roberts, C. (2019). Long‐term cannabidiol treatment in patients with Dravet syndrome: An open‐label extension trial. Epilepsia , 60 (2), 294-302. 
- Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., … & Weller, A. (2020). The “entourage effect”: terpenes coupled with cannabinoids to treat mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Current Neuropharmacology , 18 (2), 87-96. 
- Devinsky, O., Cross, J. H., Laux, L., Marsh, E., Miller, I., Nabbout, R., … & Wright, S. (2017). Trial of cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in the Dravet syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(21), 2011-2020. 
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
Real THC is a must in true full spectrum CBD oil
Cannabis just feels different when it’s grown with love and care, especially when it’s cultivated by farmers with knowledge of the plant that runs deep. Consumers in THC-friendly states can identify an artisan crop fairly easily, but with CBD from hemp, it’s more difficult to find quality products in a sea of corporate CBD companies trying to make a buck. And now with laboratory-synthesized cannabinoids on the rise, it’s getting even harder to find the good stuff.
Kentucky-based hemp brand Cornbread Hemp is refreshingly straightforward: all-natural, full spectrum products made from locally grown, organic hemp flowers, just like you’d expect from a premium THC brand. It even includes up to 0.3 percent naturally occurring THC, the most allowed under the 2018 Farm Bill, not lab-grown cannabinoids like delta-8 and THC-O. It’s just as wholesome as homemade cornbread, with up to 2mg of THC per serving.
Kentucky-based hemp brand Cornbread Hemp is refreshingly straightforward: all-natural, full spectrum products made from locally grown, organic hemp flowers, just like you’d expect from a premium THC brand.
The brand’s full spectrum, USDA-certified organic CBD gummies, tinctures, capsules, and topicals feel like cannabis you’d get off a dispensary shelf, and that’s by design.
Cornbread Hemp was founded by former journalist Jim Higdon and his cousin Eric Zipperle, both fierce advocates for cannabis legalization. The pair don’t see hemp and traditional cannabis as separate, they simply cultivate cannabis that fits within the guidelines of federal law.
Other CBD brands either downplay their THC content, use the absence of THC as a selling point, or stuff their products with lab-derived THC like delta-8 or THC-O. Cornbread stands out as being not a CBD brand, but a cannabis brand—and by only including the natural cannabinoids from Kentucky-grown hemp flowers, with no stems, leaves, stalks, or funny business.
Here’s what journalists from Food & Wine, BuzzFeed, and Health Magazine are all raving about.
Cornbread Hemp co-founders Jim Higdon (left) and Eric Zipperle (right) surveying their field of USDA organic hemp. Courtesy of Cornbread Hemp.
Kentucky’s hemp heritage
The first Kentucky hemp crop was planted in 1775, nearly 250 years ago, and for more than a century, the state was the top hemp producer in the United States. Following the “Hemp for Victory” effort during World War II, Kentucky’s booming hemp industry suddenly went dark, except for some farmers that would not go quietly.
Cornbread Hemp’s name comes from the subject of co-founder Higdon’s first nonfiction book, The Cornbread Mafia. It tells the tale of the country’s largest domestic cannabis syndicate, which was, of course, based in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State always goes big with cannabis. The Cornbread Mafia began its massive cannabis cultivation operations in the early 1970s, just as the federal government classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug, and they continued through the 1980s until a wave of more than 70 arrests on 30 farms in 10 states with 200 tons of cannabis in the late 80’s finally shut them down.
Kentucky was just one of a handful of states to create hemp production pilot programs when the 2014 Farm Bill opened the door—and with the 2018 Farm Bill fully legalizing hemp cultivation, hemp was once again part of the state’s booming agriculture industry.
Cornbread Hemp ties this local heritage together, growing high-quality crops on the 37th parallel, the same latitude line that runs through the Hindu Kush mountains. While writing his book, Higdon learned the ins and outs of the cannabis industry—and about Kentucky’s unique climate that makes it the best place to grow hemp. His cousin Eric Zipperle knew good products and the ins and outs of running a good business, making them the perfect match.
Together, they set out to make not just better hemp, but a whole industry that they could be proud of—and their commitment to cannabis has elevated them to thought leaders in the industry. They’re frequently turned to as experts in the field in publications like Bloomberg News, New York Daily News, and POLITICO.
The complete family of Cornbread Hemp organic full spectrum CBD+THC products includes gummies, oils, topicals, capsules, and pet oil. Courtesy of Cornbread Hemp.
Flower-Only ™ and full spectrum for better cannabis
When someone picks up cannabis flower from a THC dispensary, typically they’re getting buds, not shake, and certainly not stems. Those in states without a legal THC cannabis market deserve the same quality, but they’re usually not getting it. High-quality CBD oil lives in the buds, but to save time and money, many producers just process the entire plant all at once and pass off the low-quality products to their customers. Cornbread Hemp gets their CBD oil straight from the source by taking the time to properly harvest their plants—which really should be the bare minimum that a hemp farmer does—for the Flower Only ™ difference.
Some hemp producers cut corners by only using CBD isolates, which lack the subtle compounds that work together to create more robust effects. The rich oil that Cornbread Hemp gets is truly full spectrum, with not just CBD, but minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and, yes, real delta-9 THC. Every single one of these elements makes the others work better, and CBD can’t be its best self without THC.
Unfortunately, it’s increasingly difficult to find CBD products that contain naturally occurring THC—many CBD brands that advertise THC in their products are using lab-synthesized alternates like delta-8. Cornbread’s THC was grown on an organic farm along with the rest of the plant, not concocted in a lab.
CBD-dominant hemp can be just as life-changing as THC-dominant cannabis, so why should hemp consumers get shortchanged?
Flower-Only ™ CBD products for everyone
Cornbread Hemp’s gummies are USDA certified organic, vegan-friendly, and flavored with organic blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Courtesy of Cornbread Hemp.
By sticking to the power of the flower itself, Cornbread Hemp crafts convenient products that can ship nationwide, so even those still under cannabis prohibition can feel the difference of true full spectrum cannabis—and with a wide variety of safe, convenient consumables.
Cornbread can be an upgrade to most CBD products you already have. Each and every product comes from a single USDA-certified organic hemp farm in Kentucky, and a single hybrid strain of federally legal cannabis, otherwise known as hemp. And as Cornbread Hemp proves every day—hemp is cannabis.
Full Spectrum Organic Berry CBD Gummies: For stressful days or sleepless nights, these could be your new go-to full spectrum gummy. Made with certified organic hemp flower extract, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and sugarcane, Cornbread Hemp’s gummies are vegan, gluten-free, and are made without high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Whether you’re a first-timer or a connoisseur, they have 300 milligram and 1500 milligram 30-count varieties available, which include up to 50 milligrams of CBD and 2 milligrams of THC per gummy.
Whole Flower CBD Oil: Cornbread Hemp’s Whole Flower CBD oil is like yoga in a bottle. That’s because Cornbread only uses hemp flowers, not the whole plant. Using certified organic sugarcane ethanol, they carefully obtain every bit of naturally occurring terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, then they blend the extract with certified organic coconut MCT oil. No flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. With up to 50 milligrams of CBD and 2 milligrams of THC per serving, it’s the perfect cannabis oil for evening use.
Distilled CBD Oil: This tincture, designed for daytime use, is lighter on the THC without sacrificing full spectrum quality. Instead of blending the first pass cannabis extract, Cornbread lightly distills this extract just a bit longer. This creates a final product that’s smooth, refined, and works great for daytime comfort and focus.
Full Spectrum CBD Capsules: Perhaps the most convenient cannabis delivery method, these full spectrum capsules are Cornbread’s hidden gem. That’s because they contain higher levels of CBDa than any other product in their selection, which works great for exercise-induced inflammation and other forms of physical discomfort. If you’re an athlete, these are for you.
Organic CBD Balm: Designed for sore muscles and joints, this balm stick adds the power of cannabis to organic arnica and peppermint for soothing, targeted relief. If you’ve never used a CBD+THC topical to support your body, like after a long hike or working all day on your feet, you’re seriously missing out.
Cornbread Hemp’s field of hemp flowers at sunrise, just before harvest. Courtesy of Cornbread Hemp.
CBD Lotions: Available with or without menthol, Cornbread’s lotions contain their signature hemp flower extract blended with botanicals like organic peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary. These lotions smell and feel great, without the greasy residue of other salves and balms. For hands and feet that need quick, soothing support, the CBD Lotion + Menthol is your new best friend. And for irritated skin that needs a boost, the CBD Lotion Skin Formula is for you!
CBD Oil for Pets: We dare you to find another pet CBD product that’s (vegan) corn dog flavored. We also dare you to find one that contains 17 milligrams of CBD and 1 milligram of THC per serving, which is why Cornbread’s products for pets actually work. One full dropper is formulated for an 80-pound dog, and the dosage for smaller pets can be easily measured using the marked dropper. If you’ve got a furry friend in need of comfort, whether cat or dog, this product has your name on it. Made with distilled hemp flower extract, this is perfect for picky pets that turn their noses up at other CBD products.
To find these products and even more of the good stuff from Cornbread Hemp, hit the link below.
CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?
Both come from cannabis, but THC is psychoactive and CBD is not
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
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Cannabis contains over 113 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of chemical compounds derived from cannabis. In recent years, interest has grown in the potential health effects and benefits of cannabis. Much of this interest has centered on these two cannabinoids.
This interest will likely grow as cannabis and marijuana products become legal in more states. A number of different products have emerged that contain CBD, THC, or both that are designed to alleviate ailments such as stress, anxiety, and insomnia. To understand these products’ side effects and potential benefits, it is important to first understand the differences between CBD and THC.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, usually referred to as CBD, is the second most prevalent chemical compound found in cannabis. First discovered during the 1940s, CBD has recently become more popular as a natural treatment for a range of conditions. It can be derived from hemp or from marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD still contains trace amounts of THC, while marijuana-derived CBD may contain more.
What Is THC?
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), THC activates the brain’s reward system by signaling the release of the brain chemical dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood and pleasure. By triggering a higher-than-normal release of dopamine, THC causes people to experience feelings of euphoria. THC is often administered by smoking marijuana, but it can also be found as an ingredient in capsules, edibles, and oils.
CBD vs. THC: Key Differences
THC and CBD have an effect on the endocannabinoid system, a system that plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis. Researchers are still working to understand the ins and outs of this complex system, but they do know that it is associated with processes including memory, appetite, sleep, mood, and fertility.
While THC and CBD share similarities, there are some key differences between the two compounds.
Psychoactive (produces a high)
Sourced from marijuana
Non-psychoactive (does not produce a high)
Typically sourced from hemp
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive Properties
CBD and THC affect different receptors in the brain. Because of this, CBD typically does not have psychoactive effects—in other words, it won’t cause you to get high.
THC, on the other hand, does have psychoactive effects. It is the compound that produces the high that people associate with marijuana.
CBD vs. THC: Chemical Structure
Both CBD and THC have a chemical structure that is similar to the body’s natural endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that act in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells in the body. They play an important role in a wide range of functions including sleep, pain, appetite, mood, and the immune system.
CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, but there are differences in how these molecules are arranged that are responsible for the differing effects they have. By mimicking endocannabinoids, they bind with receptors and cause different effects in the body.
CBD vs. THC: Sources
While CBD can come from either hemp or marijuana, it is often derived from hemp in order to avoid the addition of larger amounts of THC. THC, on the other hand, is derived from marijuana.
CBD that comes from marijuana may contain more THC, which may not be ideal for people who are trying to avoid THC. Some CBD products that are produced from cannabis, for example, may contain more THC than the label suggests.
CBD vs. THC: Potential Benefits
While research on the potential health benefits of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids is still in the early stages, there is evidence that these substances may be helpful for conditions including:
- Symptoms of HIV/AIDS
- Opioid dependence
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sleep difficulties
- Movement disorders
While CBD and THC often have similar effects and are often used to treat many of the same ailments, there are some differences.
CBD is often used to alleviate symptoms associated with:
THC, which may be administered as medical marijuana, may be used to alleviate symptoms of a number of conditions. It may be helpful for conditions such as:
- Nausea; it may help alleviate nausea caused by cancer treatment
- Pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine headaches
- Poor appetite; including appetite problems caused by cancer treatment
CBD vs. THC for Pain Relief
Both CBD and THC can both be beneficial for pain relief. Because THC has psychoactive effects, it may produce more immediate pain relief. However, CBD can help reduce inflammation, which is useful for long-term effectiveness. Some evidence suggests that taking both CBD and THC may provide the greatest pain relief. In one study, people who took a combination of CBD and THC experienced greater pain relief than those who took THC alone.
While cannabis itself has not been FDA approved to treat any condition, there are a few drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that contain CBD or THC.
- Epidiolex contains CBD and has been approved to treat seizures associated with two severe types of epilepsy—Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
- Marinol and Syndros are drugs that contain dronabinol, a synthetic THC. These drugs are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy during cancer treatment.
- Cesamet contains nabilone, a synthetic substance that is similar to THC. This drug is used to treat weight loss and appetite problems associated with chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS.
CBD vs. THC: Side Effects
Some research suggests that CBD and THC are generally safe and result in few side effects.
However, while these substances appear safe, that does not necessarily mean that you won’t experience some unwanted effects. Some adverse effects that have been reported include:
- Changes in mood and appetite
- Feelings of anxiety or other mood changes
- Nausea and dizziness
THC use may also result in unpleasant side effects such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, and memory loss.
Marijuana itself can have a number of short-term and long-term adverse effects, including impaired short-term memory, altered judgment, and impaired coordination. Research also suggests that marijuana can alter brain development and may lead to cognitive impairment.
NIDA also notes that THC alters how the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex function. These areas of the brain are important in the formation of new memories and the ability to shift attention from one thing to the next. This not only affects a person’s ability to learn and form new memories, but it also makes it difficult for people to perform difficult tasks.
Legality of CBD and THC
When choosing CBD or THC products, it is also important to consider their legality. Both marijuana and THC are included in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which means that they are not legal under federal law.
As of July 2020, 33 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted policies allowing medical marijuana and products containing THC to be prescribed by a doctor. Some states also allow recreational use of marijuana and THC-containing products.
Although CBD in certain forms is legal in most states, the specifics of the legality of any THC or CBD product can vary from one state to the next. Several states have also approved the use of marijuana and THC for recreational purposes.
Because the laws regarding the use of cannabis and cannabis products are rapidly changing, you should always check your state’s laws before using products containing CBD or THC.
How to Take CBD and THC
Both THC and CBD can be consumed in a number of different forms. THC may be consumed as marijuana by smoking, but a number of other cannabis products are also available including:
- Vape products
- Edibles including gummies and chocolates
- Beverages containing marijuana oil
Like THC, CBD can also be consumed in a number of different forms. CBD oils can be formulated for vaping, although there have been recent concerns about the health dangers posed by vaping.
It can also be added to lotions and salves to apply to skin. It is important to note that the effects of these topical products will be localized since they are not being ingested.
CBD can also be taken orally as a tincture, oil, capsule, or spray. Edible CBD products are also popular and include gummies, candies, and beverages.
When choosing CBD products, it is also important to consider its formulation. Isolate products contain only CBD. Broad-spectrum products contain other cannabinoids with the exception of THC, while full-spectrum CBD products contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.
Which One Should You Take?
The product you choose may depend on the effects you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to reduce stress or sleep better, for example, CBD may provide benefits without the negative side effects associated with THC. THC might be a better choice for symptoms or conditions for which the substance has demonstrated benefits, such as tremors or poor appetite.
The Entourage Effect
Some research suggests that the potential therapeutic effects of THC and CBD tend to be greater when the two cannabinoids are taken together at the same time. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
Taking CBD along with THC has also been shown to help reduce some of the unwanted effects that THC may have. For example, one study suggests that CBD may potentially reduce some of the negative cognitive effects of regular cannabis use.
For example, people who use cannabis, particularly when it has high THC levels, may have a greater risk of experiencing psychiatric symptoms such as paranoia, anxiety, and psychosis. Studies have found, however, that CBD may help mitigate these effects.
One study found that CBD helped block some of the potential psychiatric effects of THC. The authors of the study suggest that such findings have important implications for the use of cannabis products. People who are prone to unwanted side effects, for example, may be able to still gain the potential health benefits by sticking to products that are low in THC and higher in CBD content.
It is also important to remember that CBD and THC work in a number of different areas of the brain, and researchers do not yet fully understand the effects that these cannabinoids have, either alone or in conjunction with one another.
Some evidence suggests that the combined effects of CBD and THC may be dependent on dose. A 2019 study, for example, found that low doses of CBD actually played a role in amplifying the psychoactive effects of THC, while high doses of CBD reduced THC’s effects.
Drug Testing CBD or THC
Because THC is the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, it can be detected on most standard drug tests. CBD may be detectable as well, but many drug tests are not designed to look for cannabidiol.
However, many CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC. While these amounts are small, they may still be detectable if you are consuming large quantities of CBD or if the products you are using contain more THC than the packaging label claims.
Research has found, for example, that as many as 70% of CBD products are mislabeled and contain significantly more THC than labels suggest. Because of the lack of regulation of these products, it is difficult to know exactly how much THC you are actually getting.
There is no way to tell between THC and CBD based on appearance, smell, taste, or texture. Purchasing products from reputable manufacturers and retailers may help ensure that you are getting the type of product you want.
Both THC and CBD are stored in body fat, which means that both can potentially be detected on drug tests for some time after you have stopped using them.
Before You Take CBD or THC
THC and CBD may also have an effect on some health conditions and can interact with certain medications, so you should always use caution before taking these products. These substances might impact how medications are metabolized by your body. They can also heighten feelings of anxiety in some cases.
Before choosing a THC or CBD product, it is important to check your state laws to ensure that these products are legal where you live. Federal law mandates that hemp-derived CBD products should contain less than 0.3% THC, but even those trace amounts are still illegal in some states.
A Word From Verywell
Both THC and CBD may have a number of benefits, but you should always talk to your doctor first before you try any products containing these cannabinoids. Both CBD and THC hold promise for alleviating symptoms and even treating some medical and mental health conditions, but research in this area is still relatively new and further investigation is needed.
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: what you need to know.
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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.