CBD vs. THC in the Brain

CBD vs. THC in the Brain

With hemp products on the rise, labels with “CBD-infused” can sound intimidating if you are unsure how it differs from the more popular cannabis molecule, THC. 

The two most common questions we hear are, “What’s the difference between the two?” and “Will CBD get me high?” Let’s talk about their differences and how they each interact with the brain!

What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive natural compound found in cannabis plants.

What is THC?

THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is another natural compound found in cannabis plants, but this one is responsible for causing the marijuana “high.”

CBD is predominantly extracted from the hemp plant, while THC is usually extracted from Marijuana - yes, they are technically different plants, although very similar. You can think of them as “cousins.” Hemp has a higher percentage of CBD to THC molecules, while marijuana contains a higher ratio of  THC to CBD content.

The Difference in Effects


THC is intoxicating, meaning that induces a euphoric high. Once the compound enters the body, it directly latches onto specific receptors, a significant one known as CB1, that produces a relaxed sensation.

The interesting thing about THC is that it can be classified as both a depressant and stimulant, which is why people may have very different experiences. Often times, THC acts as an antidepressant in low-doses, but in high doses it might also worsen feelings of depression, anxiety, and paranoia


Unlike THC, CBD does not directly bind with CB1 receptors -- it’s downstream effects are a result of an indirect interaction with these receptors. Instead of binding directly to CB1 in a tight fit, CBD essentially “latches” onto it, blocking binding site from THC, which could actually lessen the effects of THC if taken together. But more on that in another blog post ;)

The health and wellness industry happily embraced CBD because of its potential benefits of helping anxiety, reducing inflammation, improving sleep quality, and boosting mood levels, without any noticeable adverse effects. A 2011 study found a significant decrease in stress levels in patients with social anxiety when given 600 mg of CBD before public speaking. 

To put it simply, THC and CBD are not the same. Although they both may contribute to improving mental and physical wellbeing, CBD has the ability to achieve this without any noticeable side effects.

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