CBD Vs THC: How Are They Different? What Are The Benefits Of Each?

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Written By: Olivia Davis

If you’re considering getting a recommendation from medical marijuana doctors to use cannabis to treat a disease, then you might want to keep reading. In the following, we’ll discuss each of the prominent natural compounds in cannabis – CBD and THC, their differences and their benefits.

What are CBD and THC?

First of all, both compounds offer many similar medical benefits, providing relief for a wide range of conditions.  The difference is that CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, unlike THC. For this reason, medical marijuana doctors recommend CBD for not having such side effect.


One of the most significant compounds in cannabis, Cannabidiol is present in both medical cannabis and industrial hemp plants.

When ingested for medical purposes, such as pain relief, patients will experience symptoms relief with little to no cognitive effects.

But while cannabinoids exist within several plants, only cannabis has CBD. It has the same chemical formula with THC except with the atom arrangement.   (CBD = C21H30O2; THC = ‎C21H30O2)


Tetrahydrocannabinol possesses psychoactive properties responsible for the ‘high’ linked with recreational cannabis use. In part, it mimics the effects of 2-AG and anandamide produced by the human body. They regulate eating and sleeping habits, countless bodily functions and perception.

A few effects linked with THC use include altered sense of hearing, sight and smell. It can also induce hunger, fatigue, relaxation and reduced aggression, according to this source.

The Difference

THC and CBD have the same chemical makeup – 2 oxygen atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 21 carbon atoms, so they’re almost identical except their atoms’ arrangement as revealed earlier.

Both of them bind to the body’s CB2 receptors, but they interact differently with the CB1 receptors.

For example, THC can bind directly to the CB1 receptors for its molecular structure. As the bond forms, a reaction follows.  It creates signals sent to the brain resulting to the ‘high’ or psychoactive effects of THC.

Oppositely, CBD doesn’t attach itself directly with the CB1 receptors of the body.  In fact, it can also influence the bond of these receptors with THC negatively. As a result, the psychoactive effects of THC can be neutralized by CBD.

For this reason, THC isn’t preferred by medical marijuana doctors for their patients, but they recommend CBD for the same medical benefits without the associated euphoria and cognitive ability effects of THC.

Health Benefits of CBD

There are many key benefits of cannabidiol products, including oils, balms, salves and topicals to human health.

For one, it aids in pain relief, one of its significant benefits.

CBD has analgesic effects for its ability to interact with the immune system and brain to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

In fact, a study discovered that cannabidiol could reduce inflammation in mice without the evident side effects linked with current arthritis treatments.

CBD also combats anxiety and treats physiological symptoms. Studies, such as that from the University of São Paulo, also had it that CBD could be used in a combination treatment as a therapy of mental health conditions, such as anxiety.

The results from the study also discovered that CBD reduces anxiety in a social anxiety disorder due to its effects on the activities of the brain’s paralimbic and limbic areas.

CBD is also useful in cancer treatment in a number of ways. For one, it has antitumor effects that can speed up the death of tumor cancer cells in leukemia and colon cancer.  It also works by stopping the spread of cancer cells in cervical cancer.

Other medical benefits of CBD include,

  • Anti-seizure
  • Sleep disorders
  • Lower diabetes risk
  • Heals broken bones and protects against bone disease
  • Aids in epilepsy treatment
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Acne
  • ADHD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance Abuse/Withdrawal
  • Nausea
  • Heart Disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Bacterial infections
  • Anti-inflammatory

Health Benefits of THC

Just like CBD, THC also offers different natural medical benefits.  One of its main benefits is on pain relief due to its ability to activate the central nervous system’s pathways, which are blocking the pain signals from being delivered to the brain.

It also eases vomiting and nausea, according to a 1995 study that discovered oral doses of THC-8 worked effectively for treating children suffering from chemo-induced nausea, but with slight irritability noted as a minor side effect.

Other medical benefits of THC include,

  • Brain cell protection
  • Sleep aid
  • Brain growth promotion
  • PTSD treatment
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Side Effects of Chemotherapy
  • Inflammation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal injury
  • Digestive health
  • Chronic pain

Final Thoughts

CBD and THC are almost identical twins because of their similar chemical makeup except for their atom arrangement.  Even so, both have their medical benefits that can help heal different diseases. However, CBD does not have the ‘high’ effects versus THC.