CBD vs. THC: Top 5 Differences in Benefits, Uses & Risks

CBD vs THC Differences

It’s easy to get confused between CBD vs THC.

Both of these naturally produced cannabinoids from hemp are now found in a wide variety of cannabis extract products. For instance, you might’ve seen them in products like ‘CBD Oil’ or ‘THC Gummies’.

Because of their common origin (the cannabis plant), CBD and THC are often mixed up.

Jar of Medical Cannabis on Table

However, these are distinct cannabinoids. CBD vs THC each has different:

  • Sources (medical cannabis vs industrial hemp)
  • Effects on the body and brain
  • Benefits and uses
  • Psychoactivity
  • Risks and side effects
  • Legality and purchase restrictions

In Australia (and many other countries), CBD is extracted from low-THC industrial hemp plants. In contrast, products containing high levels of THC come from medical cannabis.

Therapeutic products produced from these different plants have very distinct effects.

Jar of CBD Cream

CBD oil, for instance, is non-psychoactive. It’s primarily used to treat anxiety, epilepsy, arthritis and inflammation.

In contrast, medical cannabis products containing THC are psychoactive and stimulate ‘euphoria’ in the brain. This is because THC activates the brain’s cannabinoid receptors directly and potently. CBD, in contrast, only indirectly interacts with these receptors.

Due to its potency and psychoactivity, THC has a greater risk of side effects and mental harm. It’s much more controlled in places like Australia. Medications containing THC are prescription only. CBD oil, on the other hand, can be bought today without a prescription in pharmacies as an ‘over-the-counter’ medicine.

Medical THC Vape

Knowing the differences between CBD vs THC helps you choose the right product for your needs and avoid buying the wrong thing.

Let’s explore the differences between CBD and THC so you can easily compare them and determine what’s right for you.

Understanding CBD vs. THC

Weed Leaf with THC Oil

CBD and THC are both cannabinoids. Cannabis plants create them organically.

They’re generally the two most abundant cannabinoids created by the plant.

They’re also the most widely known and used. Let’s describe each so you can understand how THC vs CBD differs.

What is CBD?

Understanding CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Its chemical structure differs from THC’s, which changes how it works. While CBD and THC interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, CBD does so only indirectly. This means it won’t cause a ‘high’ like THC.

As such, it’s much safer to take. It won’t risk causing psychosis like THC.

Today, you can take CBD in many ways. For instance, it’s found in CBD oil, vapes, CBD gummies, capsules, and creams. CBD products come in several formulations, each with different strengths and cannabinoid content.

How CBD Works
Man Relaxing from CBD

When consumed, CBD works on the endocannabinoid system in the body and causes the release of endogenous cannabinoids. These are analgesic, anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory. In other words, they can combat conditions like:

  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia (mainly when caused by anxiety).
  • Pain.
  • Inflammation.
  • Arthritis.
  • ADHD.
  • Psoriasis.

Endocannabinoids like anandamide are responsible for CBD’s therapeutic effects (as opposed to CBD itself). We still don’t know the full extent of their powerful bodily and brain benefits.

Further research is ongoing into endocannabinoids for their potential abilities to mitigate depression, offer antiviral effects and aid with high blood pressure. 

CBD Molecule

CBD differs from THC in its action on the endocannabinoid system. It indirectly activates cannabinoid receptors in this system, stimulating relaxing and therapeutic effects. This is very different from THC, which acts powerfully on the brain’s CB1 receptors. Due to its direct action on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, THC triggers euphoric feelings.

Despite being different, CBD and THC are synergistic for specific health purposes. For instance, taking both cannabinoids together tends to alleviate pain symptoms better. Most cannabis pain medications use a 1:1 ratio of both CBD and THC for maximum pain relief. This reduces pain symptoms greater than using either on its own.

Industrial Hemp
Bud of Industrial Hemp

CBD oil is primarily sourced from industrial hemp in countries like Australia. This is a subspecies of cannabis that contains little to no THC. It is specifically bred to have less than 0.2% of the psychoactive cannabinoid. This means any product made from industrial hemp will be non-intoxicating. Industrial hemp is also used for many commercial purposes. For instance, the plant can be converted into hemp protein, fibres, ropes, or textiles.

So what is THC, then?

What is THC?

THC Chemical in Vial

THC stands for ‘delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol’. It’s the infamous cannabinoid known for causing euphoria or a ‘high’ when consumed. The cannabis plant naturally produces it. Specifically, medical cannabis strains of the plant are used to make cannabis products with THC. These forms of the plant have high quantities of the cannabinoid. They also typically contain CBD and minor cannabinoids.

In Australia, medical cannabis products with THC in them are available by prescription only. These are often found as dried cannabis flower, cannabis oil or hash. Like CBD, THC can be consumed in a range of methods. For instance, it’s commonly taken as an edible, THC oil, vape, or used sublingually (under the tongue). Because it causes intoxication, it’s illegal to have any THC in your system when driving or operating machinery in Australia.

Why does THC get you ‘high’? Let’s take a look.

How THC Works
CBD in Weed Leaf

THC affects the body, but its most notable activity after consumption is within the brain.

THC’s potent activation of the brain’s CB1 cannabinoid receptors is its main action pathway.

THC can also modulate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin by activating these receptors. These are secondary effects triggered by the cannabinoid. Affecting these neurotransmitters contributes to THC’s mentally stimulating euphoric sensations.

Woman Calm from CBD

Because THC can affect dopamine, it can cause addiction or dependence. Dopamine controls reward and motivation. It can cause problems with mental or physical addictions if stimulated too much. This makes THC very different to CBD. CBD can’t affect dopamine, so it won’t ever cause addiction.

THC’s modulation of cannabinoid receptors in the hypothalamus also affects hunger levels. The hypothalamus is responsible for controlling hunger by triggering hunger hormone release. By stimulating the hypothalamus, THC can cause appetite increases.

THC’s Brain Effects
THC Psychoactive

Additionally, THC has serotonin-modulating interactions, which is part of why it affects mood. Much of THC’s relaxing, feel-good properties are the result of these interactions. While it helps users with short-term mood improvements and happy feelings, long-term use of THC can be detrimental. Specifically, THC is known to cause impairments in working memory and learning ability. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for these functions in the brain. Altering levels of serotonin can cause undesirable mental side effects. Over time, chronic use of THC can lead to loss of memory, reduced cognitive ability and impaired executive function.

Compared to CBD, THC has quite different therapeutic applications. For example, it is extensively used for treating nausea among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In addition, THC is often prescribed for conditions that cause muscle spasms or nervous dysfunction. Commonly, THC (in medical cannabis) is prescribed for pain types as an opiate alternative. It tends to be particularly valuable for long-term or chronic pain. Doctors often use it to help treat pain from fibromyalgia, nerve pain or injuries that aren’t responding to traditional painkillers. In many instances, it’s a better choice for these drugs. This is because THC tends to be less addictive and has fewer severe side effects when used long-term. Note that this still doesn’t mean THC is safe or free of side effects.

Medical Cannabis
Medical Cannabis in Australia

Products containing THC above 0.2% are considered ‘medical cannabis medications’ in Australia. This denotes a certified product extracted from medical cannabis plants. Medical cannabis is strictly controlled because of the higher harm potential of THC. It can only be farmed with a special growing license in Australia. In addition to THC, most medical cannabis strains will also contain a mix of other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, or CBN in differing quantities.

What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

Man Comparing CBD and THC

There are many significant differences between CBD and THC to be aware of. Primarily, these are distinctions in:

  • Psychoactivity
  • Legality
  • Drug testing risks
  • Uses and Effects
  • Side effects and risks
  • Dosages and use methods

CBD and THC differ significantly in their legality, side effects and risks, benefits, and product types.


THC Psychoactivity

The psychoactivity of CBD vs THC is a massive difference between the two cannabinoids.

CBD is not psychoactive like THC. As such, it’s far more suitable for those who don’t want to get intoxicated while still obtaining the powerful health benefits of cannabinoids.

It also makes CBD a better fit for those who drive or operate machinery. In contrast to THC, CBD doesn’t cause motor skill impairment. THC slows your reaction speeds and judgement. When you’re affected by it, your cognition and decision-making are reduced.

Additionally, THC’s psychoactivity poses a substantial risk of triggering or worsening many mental disorders. For example, those with genetic predispositions to dementia, psychosis, depression or Alzheimer’s are susceptible to mental harm from THC. This also applies to anxiety disorders. Acute anxiousness can be significantly worsened by using THC. It can lead to more severe paranoia, racing thoughts or chronic worrying.


CBD Legality in Australia

There are differences in the legality of CBD vs THC in places such as Australia.

CBD products are more widely available and legal than those containing THC.

For example, CBD oil can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies across Australia. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) rescheduled CBD from a Schedule 4 to Schedule 3 medicine in 2021 to enable this. Restrictions still apply to the strengths of these products, which can contain no more than 150mg of CBD dose per day. High-strength CBD products can also be purchased through the Special Access Scheme in Australia, which requires approval to use CBD as part of a pre-approved condition. 

In contrast, any medical cannabis product containing THC has to be prescribed. You can’t walk into a pharmacy and buy these product types. More stringent access restrictions reflect the higher danger level of THC vs. CBD.

The legalisation of cannabis products without a prescription is unlikely to happen anytime soon in Australia. CBD products, on the other hand, may well become fully legalized in the near term because of their safety and non-psychoactivity.

Drug Testing

Urine Drug Test Australia

In comparison to CBD, THC has much bigger problems for people who are drug tested. For instance, you could be drug tested whilst driving or for your job.

Many workplaces conduct regular drug testing of employees or require screening as part of pre-employment checks. Roadside drug tests are also done constantly in all areas of Australia. These test for the presence of THC metabolites in drivers’ systems. It is not legal to drive with any detectable amount of THC in your system in Australia. Intoxication level isn’t factored into this. Yet, while THC is checked for in these drug testing protocols, CBD isn’t. It won’t be detected and is safe to use for drivers.

The primary reason CBD isn’t included in drug tests is that it doesn’t cause motor impairment or impaired judgment. Unfortunately for those taking THC, its metabolites have a very long half-life in the body and are fat-soluble. It can take weeks or months after regular use of cannabis for these metabolites to be removed from the body. This poses long-term risks, even when cannabis use is ceased. In contrast, someone could take CBD before driving and would be safe from drug tests as long as they use a pure product containing no THC. 

Side Effects and Risks

THC Side Effects

THC has a much greater risk of severe side effects compared to CBD.

This is due to its more powerful, direct activation of the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. THC’s resulting psychoactivity means it has far more potential for harm. It can exacerbate mental illnesses or trigger psychosis in the worst cases. Those with existing mental conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar should avoid using it entirely.

In contrast, CBD has minimal side effects and is safe even at very high dosages.

THC Side Effects

THC’s side effects can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Motor function issues
  • Reduced reaction speed
  • Memory impairment
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Paranoia or anxiousness

The risks of these side effects increase with higher usage frequency and dosages of THC consumed. Chronic use of THC is also linked to impaired memory and cognition. Risks are further amplified among teenagers and children due to their developing brains being more susceptible to impairment. 

Addiction Potential of THC
Man with Weed Addiction

THC is dopaminergic because it acts on the brain’s reward pathways. This means it can cause addiction. Around 1 in 10 regular users of THC are expected to develop an addiction to the cannabinoid. Addiction tends to be more common for those with depression or genetic predispositions. In contrast, CBD is non-addictive as it doesn’t have any direct interactions with dopamine or serotonin in the brain.

CBD Side Effects
CBD Lowering Anxiety

Cannabidiol has weaker, indirect interactions with the neurotransmitter receptors, which means its health risks are substantially lower than those of THC. Reputable health bodies, including the World Health Organization, have verified its safety.

Other studies have assessed the health risks of cannabidiol and found that even when using high doses of CBD daily, its side effect risks are low. It physically can’t cause addiction because it doesn’t modulate dopamine. When side effects are encountered with CBD, they are almost always mild and transient. Potential side effects it can trigger include:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Drowsiness.

Like with THC, the side effect risks of CBD increase at higher dosages or frequency of use.

Medication Interactions
Mixing CBD with Medications

A significant risk in using both THC and CBD comes from combining them with other medications, which are broken down by the liver.

CBD can dampen levels of the liver’s P450 enzyme, which is used for detoxification. Numerous pharmaceutical drugs like NSAIDs, chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics and blood pressure medications are also processed through this pathway.

If taken along with CBD or THC, toxins can build up. This can cause adverse health reactions. The liver could get damaged or impaired. Other side effects, such as dizziness or lethargy, may worsen. Never mix CBD or THC with other pharmaceutical drugs or prescriptions until you consult with your doctor. Combining medications like benzodiazepine or blood pressure medicine with cannabinoids is potentially dangerous.

Dosages and Usage Periods

Dosing CBD Correctly

CBD and THC are used differently. Doses and the length of time each is used have distinctions.

While both can be safe to use therapeutically when dosed correctly, THC is more unsafe at higher dosages, product strengths or length of use. Long-term use of THC is particularly risky because it increases side effect risks.

Excessively using THC over time can cause long-term memory, cognition and coordination impairment. Studies have shown these effects are even worse comparatively than alcohol or tobacco use at similar dosages. THC affects the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and pre-frontal cortex. These brain regions are responsible for memory, attention, and learning. Using THC for long periods can alter brain structure and cause long-term cognitive changes. These risks are also heightened when using products containing very high strengths of THC. For example, dabs or ‘chronic’ (high potency) strains of medical marijuana. 

Man Smoking Medical Cannabis

CBD, on the other hand, can be used even at high dosages for long periods without any real risk of similar cognitive outcomes. Many clinical studies have used CBD in daily doses of beyond 600mg per day without any side effects presenting in subjects. It won’t cause long-term harm like THC. This is a critical advantage of CBD vs THC. It’s also a reason people use CBD as an alternative to certain pharmaceutical drugs like NSAIDs. NSAID medicines like ibuprofen can cause toxicity or cardiovascular harm if taken over long periods. As such, they aren’t suited for chronic health conditions. CBD oil is well-positioned as a natural alternative anti-inflammatory in these instances.

Uses and Effects

Woman Relaxed from CBD Oil

Because of their differing mechanisms of action in the endocannabinoid system and therapeutic properties, THC is used in different ways than CBD.

Both can be helpful in the right circumstances but must be used with caution under the supervision of a doctor. Here’s how the uses of CBD vs. THC differ.

Pain Relief
Using CBD and THC for Pain

On the whole, THC is better than CBD for pain relief. However, combining the two cannabinoids offers the most significant overall pain-relieving effects. Studies have demonstrated the synergy between CBD and THC for pain. In many trials, it has been used successfully as an alternative to opioid medications for chronic pain types.

Most cannabis-derived pain medications use CBD in combination with THC at a 1:1 ratio. Because of its analgesic (pain-alleviating) potency, THC offers more significant relief for acute pain. It is often prescribed for this purpose.

In contrast, CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects are better suited for assisting with underlying inflammation that can exacerbate pain. Both cannabinoids can help reduce nociception or pain perception. Nociceptors are nerve cells that detect and signal pain in the body. By lowering their sensitivity and blocking some of their signalling, cannabinoids help to minimise how pain is experienced in users.

Stress and Anxiety
Using CBD for Stress

Both CBD and THC can lower anxiety and stress.

However, these effects can vary across different people. For many, THC worsens anxiety because of its psychoactivity. Instead of calming people, THC often raises stress levels, stimulates panic or results in paranoia. It can worsen anxiousness instead of improving its symptoms.

CBD tends to be more reliable for its anxiolytic (stress-reducing) powers. Most use CBD oil or similar products to combat anxiety symptoms and promote calmness. It offers stress-relieving benefits via downregulating the stress response. Unlike THC, CBD has no risk of worsening anxiousness. It’s far safer for people with existing anxiety disorders. It’s better suited as a holistic aid for mental calmness and stress management versus THC. Unlike THC, it may also offer complementary antidepressant effects.

New studies are indicating cannabinoids like CBD can counteract depression symptoms. They do so by normalising mood and helping with emotional regulation. These are early signs, however, and more research is needed to back up such findings. The same can’t be said of THC. Research indicates it can worsen or even trigger depression in many people.

Epilepsy and Neuroprotection
Man Using CBD for Epilepsy

Another area of note when considering CBD vs. THC is neuroprotection.

CBD can protect neurons and prevent excitatory brain activity. THC can’t achieve this.

CBD is so effective for this that it’s used to treat certain neurological conditions such as epilepsy. It has been directly shown in various clinical trials to reduce seizure incidence, length and severity. CBD is used in a medication called Epidiolex for individuals suffering from conditions such as Dravet’s syndrome, which can cause periodic seizures.

Some trials have even tested the use of CBD in helping children with epilepsy. These trials had hugely positive results. For example, a 2013 study showed that CBD eliminated seizures in 11% of a group of children with epilepsy conditions. Over 40% of the group displayed an 80% or more significant seizure reduction. THC isn’t known to offer similar benefits and hasn’t shown efficacy in helping with neuroprotection.

Nausea and Appetite
Man Using THC for Nausea

Another difference in the uses of CBD and THC relates to their application for nausea.

THC is used in modern medicine to help combat nausea symptoms. It’s classified as an antiemetic, which means it can help reduce vomiting, prevent nausea, and counteract ‘sick’ feelings. This is very useful in many scenarios.

For example, those undergoing chemotherapy treatments can take THC medications to help with the nausea side effects of chemotherapy drugs. Marinol is an example of this type of medicine. For these individuals, THC can also aid in building back appetite, minimising pain and offering mental relief.

Because THC can increase appetite, it is similarly used among anorexia patients. In these individuals, it stimulates hunger and helps them regain weight.

Compared to THC, CBD won’t help with nausea or appetite stimulation. CBD doesn’t have antiemetic properties or the ability to increase hunger. For most people, it reduces hunger. CBD tends to be used more for weight loss than weight gain.

CBD Oil for Inflammation

Many cannabinoids from hemp are anti-inflammatory (inflammation-lowering).

Of these, CBD is possibly the most potent at alleviating inflammatory symptoms. In lowering inflammation, CBD is superior to THC.

CBD can activate the CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the immune system. When modulated, these receptors and the endocannabinoids they produce help to modulate immune-regulating proteins. In particular, cytokines and prostaglandins.

Cannabinoids like CBD work to alter the signalling of these proteins. In turn, they reduce inflammation by preventing excessive inflammatory activity. This is particularly useful for chronic inflammatory conditions like colitis or rheumatoid arthritis. Taking CBD oil can help prevent irritation, redness, soreness and swelling.

THC does have some similar properties for inflammation, but it’s much less effective. Cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN tend to provide the best anti-inflammatory effects. They stimulate the immune system’s CB2 cannabinoid receptors much better than THC.

Product Types

CBD Capsules

Another distinction between CBD vs. THC is the products that each cannabinoid comes in.

CBD and THC can be consumed in many of the same ways.

Both cannabinoids can be infused into various consumable products. This includes includes oils, tinctures, vapes, edibles, and gummies. CBD or THC sprays, sublingual capsules and balms are also commonly found today.

For people with a sweet tooth, you can even find THC and CBD in flavourful drinks or candies (like CBD gummies).

CBD Candies

Usually, CBD is taken as an oil. However, many users prefer to apply CBD topically via creams to target inflammation or pain in particular body regions. For example, psoriasis patients often apply CBD cream to affected dry areas to help reduce inflammation and restore moisture levels. Individuals with arthritis frequently target symptoms in specific joints like the knees to help restore mobility, lower stiffness, and soothe inflammation. 

THC is generally ingested by smoking or vaping cannabis flowers. While it offers faster absorption, we advise against vaping or smoking products because they are toxic to the lungs and can cause lung damage.

Choosing a CBD vs THC Product

CBD vs THC Products

If you’re thinking about buying a CBD or THC product, it’s a good idea to research available options. Generally, you can purchase pure CBD products (CBD isolates), pure THC products (THC isolates), or products that combine a blend of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. These blended formulations are considered hybrid cannabis products.

Each of these product types can be useful amongst differing individuals. But they must be selected with caution.

Deciding which formulation makes the most sense for your health goals or condition will require research, consideration and consultation with your doctor. Checking with your doctor is particularly important to help gauge the risks involved. Your doctor can help you avoid adverse medication interactions and get the right personalised advice based on your health status.

CBD Isolate

CBD Isolate Molecule

CBD isolate products eliminate quantities of all other cannabinoids, including THC, creating a formulation with only CBD. The main advantages these products have are:

  • Non-psychoactive: CBD doesn’t activate the cannabinoid and serotonin receptors directly, meaning it won’t get you “high” or intoxicated. This is also useful because CBD doesn’t impair driving. It’s more suitable for those who have mental illnesses and can’t use THC because of its psychosis risks.
  • Minimal Side Effects: CBD is better tolerated than THC and has less impactful side effects. In particular, it doesn’t have the same risk level for mental harm or worsening mental illnesses as THC. Additionally, it can be used for extended periods without leading to cognitive, memory and executive function impairment.
  • Legal Status: CBD is more widely accepted and legally available than THC in Australia and other regions because it is non-intoxicating. In Australia, it can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies without a prescription, while THC is more strictly controlled and always requires a doctor’s prescription. This reflects the relative safety profile of each cannabinoid.
When is CBD better than THC?

CBD is generally better used than products containing THC for:

  • Anxiety and Stress: CBD is anxiolytic without being psychoactive, meaning it’s better suited for anxiety disorders. THC can worsen anxiety in many people or cause long-term mental health problems, even if it helps in treating short-term stress. CBD is often used for anxiety disorders. It helps stabilise mood while reducing stress sensitivity in individuals.
  • Epilepsy: CBD is highly effective in mitigating epilepsy and the seizures it causes. It’s used in clinically approved medicines for multiple types of epilepsy, including Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The neuroprotective capacities of the cannabinoid help it to prevent seizures and dampen their severity.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: CBD has better anti-inflammatory properties than THC. It’s better suited to fight inflammatory conditions like IBS, arthritis or endometriosis. 

THC Isolate

A Large Cannabis Bud

Pure THC products that contain little to no other cannabinoids can be more valuable than CBD products in specific scenarios.

  • Pain Relief: THC is more effective for pain reduction than CBD. It can be used as an alternative to more potent pharmaceutical painkillers in some cases. It’s used today for nerve and cancer pain in particular, but many find it useful for symptoms of chronic pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting: unlike CBD, THC is mighty at lowering nausea and its symptoms. It is often prescribed for those with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. It helps decrease feelings of upset stomach, vomiting, illness and dizziness to improve day-to-day quality of life.
  • Appetite Stimulation: THC is known to increase appetite and promote eating. This is useful in combating appetite loss from certain health conditions, anorexia, and eating disorders. It is often applied to help cancer patients who have nausea but need to eat to avoid weight loss.
  • Sleep: Some people find THC helps them get to sleep. It can help with some forms of insomnia. But THC reduces REM-stage sleep, so it shouldn’t be used long-term. It aids many in calming down before bed to rest more easily.

Hybrid Cannabis Products

CBD Gummies

Combining CBD and THC as a hybrid product can have certain advantages over using either cannabinoid on its own.

In particular, these types of products are great for:

  • Enhanced Therapeutic Effects: When used together, CBD and THC can have amplified effects in areas like pain reduction and nausea alleviation. This is particularly acute when combined with terpenes that elevate cannabinoid absorption. For example, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD are better at treating chronic pain, neuropathic pain, or pain associated with conditions like arthritis. 
  • Balancing Effects: CBD can help balance out the heightened anxiety and adverse side effects of THC. It calms the mind and helps avoid negative thought patterns that can cause bad experiences with THC. It doesn’t eliminate the risks of THC, however, but it can help to dampen some of its subjective effects, which increase anxiety.
  • Personalized Treatment: Combining CBD and THC allows for more precise customization of the treatment to address specific symptoms or conditions. The ratio of CBD or THC can be increased or decreased to offer a distinct, targeted method of optimising the cannabinoid mix used in the treatment.

Does CBD Oil Contain THC?

Weed oil with THC

While CBD and THC are different, it is possible that your CBD product also contains some THC. Many CBD products are produced in similar locations or with the same equipment as THC products.

This creates a risk of cross-contamination with THC in your CBD oil. This is particularly common amongst CBD oils extracted using solvents like ethanol, which are less effective at removing THC. Low-quality CBD products extracted with solvents have a much higher risk of containing THC than high-purity CO2-extracted oil.

Full-spectrum CBD Oil

A full-spectrum CBD oil drop

If you’re concerned about THC in your CBD oil, it’s best to avoid full-spectrum products.

Full-spectrum CBD oils have a higher risk of containing some concentrations of THC. This is due to them being less refined than CBD isolates. During extraction, much of the hemp plant matter and minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN are retained in full-spectrum CBD oils. Having a higher concentration of the ‘full-spectrum’ of cannabinoids also means a higher concentration of THC. Many of these products also contain greater THC levels than advertised.


Mislabelling of CBD Oil

A significant problem in the CBD industry is the accuracy of product labels. Accidental mislabelling of CBD products is expected. Many pure CBD isolate oils, which are meant to contain 0% THC, frequently contain much greater THC concentrations.

Often, providers don’t even lab test their CBD oil to assess its cannabinoid concentrations and understand whether it contains THC. Always look for objective third-party lab test analysis on a CBD oil you purchase. This will provide you with confidence that your product does not contain THC. If it has more than 0.3% THC, it is considered a cannabis oil as opposed to CBD oil. This can only be purchased with a prescription in Australia.


A Medical Cannabis Leaf

Although the same plant produces CBD and THC, they strongly differ in their effects, benefits, legality, risks, and side effects. Both have their place in assisting people with their health and treating many chronic conditions. CBD is safer to use and has fewer side effects due to being non-psychoactive, non-addictive, and non-intoxicating. It’s better taken for anxiety, inflammation, arthritis, and epilepsy. Many also use it for sleep, stress, and general well-being. CBD won’t cause psychosis or risk exacerbating mental illness.

On the other hand, THC is psychoactive and activates the brain’s cannabinoid receptors strongly. It can be applied to specific conditions like chronic pain, nausea and appetite problems in the right circumstances but has higher side effect risks. It’s also habit-forming and can cause addiction, so it shouldn’t be relied on long term. If you’re considering either cannabinoid for your health, check in with your doctor first. Ensure you avoid any risks, such as adverse interactions with existing medications.


What is the Main Difference Between CBD and THC?

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are both cannabinoids produced by the hemp plant, but they have different chemical structures and effects. THC is psychoactive and produces the euphoric “high” that cannabis is infamous for due to powerfully activating CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. In contrast, CBD is non-psychoactive and won’t cause any intoxicating effects. THC can trigger the presentation of mental disorders like depression or schizophrenia in people with underlying predispositions. It can be a high risk to use for those who have mental illnesses. CBD, on the other hand, has more mild effects and interactions with CB1 and CB2 receptors. It acts on them indirectly, providing therapeutic effects without being addictive or having mental illness risks.

Is CBD Effective Without THC?

CBD can be effective on its own and does not require the presence of THC to exert its potential therapeutic effects. To take CBD without any THC, you’ll need to seek out a CBD isolate product that only contains CBD and eliminates concentrations of other cannabinoids such as THC. As a standalone product, CBD can provide you with a range of therapeutic health benefits, including reduced inflammation, lower anxiety, reduced arthritis symptoms and better mood. It’s also non-addictive and non-intoxicating, making it safer than THC. CBD products with no THC content are widely available and legal in Australia without a prescription. They can be purchased in pharmacies and many hemp stores. 

Is CBD the Same Feeling as THC?

CBD and THC have distinct effects, meaning the “feeling” associated with each is markedly different. After taking THC, most people will experience euphoria, altered cognition, impaired motor skills and a happy feeling of being ‘high’. At high doses, it can even cause hallucinations and shifts in perception. CBD is not known for producing a euphoric or intoxicating sensation. Instead, most report feelings of relaxation, calmness, and reduced anxiety after taking it. In many, experiences of contented bliss and ease are common.

Is CBD Just as Effective as THC?

CBD and THC have different therapeutic properties, and their efficacy depends on the specific condition being addressed. CBD has more significant effects as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and neuroprotective compound. It’s more effective at treating epilepsy, arthritis, anxiety and inflammation than THC. THC is primarily known for its ability to alleviate pain, reduce nausea, and stimulate appetite. It is commonly used for chronic pain, sickness, and muscle spasms.

Does CBD Become THC?

There is no evidence to suggest that CBD converts into THC in the body. Although the liver metabolises both, they follow separate pathways to be metabolised, and there is no commonality in the metabolites they produce in the body. High doses of CBD can potentially lead to the presence of trace amounts of THC being detected in some drug tests, but this isn’t a result of CBD converting to THC. Instead, trace amounts of THC can sometimes be found in low-quality products or those that are full-spectrum, meaning small quantities of THC were incidentally consumed.


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