THC vs. CBD: When You Should Reach For Each

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We all have our reasons for smoking, eating, or otherwise consuming weed. For some, cannabis offers relief from headaches or digestive distress. Other people get high to bring a mellow energy to their mornings, or to wind down after work.

If you’ve already figured out your favorite marijuana strains for each physical and emotional ailment, well done.

For the rest of us, here’s a quick refresher on the differences between THC and CBD and the best times to reach for each.

THC vs. CBD: What’s the difference?

Unless your cannabis experience is limited to puffing and passing a friend’s joint, you’ve probably heard of THC and CBD. What are they, exactly? THC and CBD are cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found naturally in the marijuana plant.

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in weed and is responsible for giving off a “high” feeling. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have a psychoactive effect. Rather, it offers powerful medicinal properties that can help treat conditions such as arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and even diabetes.

The ratio of THC and CBD in any given strain determines how you’ll feel and what type of relief you’ll get, if any. In other words, THC and CBD are responsible for how you feel post-session. Therefore, it’s really important to keep THC and CBD in mind at the dispensary.

An experienced and friendly budtender will help you choose the best ratio and strain for your intended purposes.

When to choose a strain high in THC

A strain can be high in THC, CBD, or a combination of the two. Strain with a THC level higher than 20 percent are likely to give you the face-warming, body-buzzing high you’re looking for. Beyond making it more enjoyable to watch a movie or listen to your favorite tunes, cannabis high in THC often imparts the following effects:

  •       Euphoria
  •       Relaxation
  •       Altered senses of sight, smell, taste, and hearing
  •       Sleepiness
  •       Increased hunger
  •       Reduced aggression

These properties make weed high in THC ideal for individuals who have trouble falling asleep at night or who have nausea and decreased appetite due to the side effects of chemotherapy. THC has also been shown to be beneficial to patients with multiple sclerosis by improving bladder function while reducing spasms and pain.

When to reach for CBD

If you suffer from anxiety, or simply don’t enjoy the mind-altering effects of cannabis, a high-CBD/low-THC strain can offer health benefits without making you feel stoned. Using weed high in CBD or using CBD products can help:

  •       Reduce the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia
  •       Relieve convulsions and nausea
  •       Reduce depressive symptoms
  •       Promote blood sugar stability
  •       Decrease anxiety
  •       Reduce inflammation and pain

These properties make weed high in CBD best for those who have diabetes, epilepsy, severe anxiety, depression, and fatigue. CBD has also been shown to help clear acne and alleviate the symptoms of PMS.

If you’re new to consuming cannabis or are revisiting it after a bad experience, you can’t go wrong with CBD. It’s great for people prone to anxiety and who don’t want the psychoactive-effect of THC. As you become more experienced, look for strains with a higher ratio of THC until you find the perfect combo.

About Author

Kate Kasbee is a health and wellness writer based in Chicago. She is the content creator, recipe developer and content strategist for the site Well Vegan and co-authored her first book "Frugal Vegan: Affordable, Easy and Delicious Vegan Cooking." Beyond health and wellness, Kate is an experienced travel and real estate writer, serving as a contributor to publications such as "Travel in Style" and "The Los Angeles Times Las Vegas Guide."

24 Comments

  1. Jeff winchester on

    I live in st Louie Missouri and the state government is working on legalizing it medically. They also found that it’s an alternative to opiates. I am a perfect candidate because I am a chronic pain patient who’s been on opiates since 1995. I supliment with my “medicine “. I am not a criminal. End marijuana prohibition.

    • Great Article!! Good luck on your book Kate. Jeff I too am in the same boat as you. The thing is my state NY finally legalized it. The problem is it’s only vaporize. And only two big companies have the contract. So there prices are approved by the state and are ridiculous. Above market (street) even with a hardship reduction it would costs between 400 to 600/month compared to 260 a month street prices. So even having a card I can’t afford to purchase the cannabis as prescribed and needed. So the medicine that reduces my opiate intake a day by 90 to 98% is still hard to afford even at street prices. Peace

      • Linda J Proulx on

        Same in FL. Limited products, and when they passed it they took out smoking. I did go through the process of getting legal. Because I felt that those that could, should. We will be the statistics that are needed for POSITIVE change and results of legalizing and using cannabis.

      • Reginald Martin on

        Don’t worry prices will come down its called supply and demand people are not going to pay high prices for something gramma can grow

    • Jeff, I’m not sure if you’re lucky or unlucky that you’re able to supplement with your own “medicine”. I say this because I was a pain management patient for 15 years (since 2001). When the CDC came out with their “guidelines”, my doctor decided he was afraid he’d lose his license so he took away opiates from many patients – even though I never failed a drug test or pill count EVER. They tried me on buprenorphine but I had severe insomnia a well-known side effect. I decided NOTHING was better than that. So I now take a little of “this n’ that” – this is what I’ve been forced to do, not by choice. I too supplement with my own “medicine”. (I was born with spondylolisthesis have had multiple back surgeries and multiple joint replacements and shoulder surgeries.) I’m still trying to tweak my medicine to help me function during the day and sleep at night but it’s been almost 9 months. I have a follow-up with the certification clinic today and hope they can give me some helpful input, even though I’ve done a lot of reading and research on my own. Until the government decides to let doctors be doctors, not to mention letting people have free choice over what they consume just like alcohol, there will be MORE overdoses and MORE suicides. History repeating itself! Best of luck to you 😊

    • I thought smoking & opiods were great but I find that the opiods make me really tired & shortness of breath, I have been smoking for 53yrs I started at these of 12..I love the medical marijuana vapor & oils, I can walk with out any pain, and I can know when I wake up I’ll be pain free with my vapor & oil… God is love

    • Wow‼️ In San Diego; well after 50 years of Tylenol PM; & switching Brands, suddenly illness & major weight loss; started Research, got my Dr’s ID‼️♥️ Found Beautiful Edibles, with the Potency I needed, very High Power Go, Go, Go Person. Back to Healthy & HaPpY 🤗 But 3-4 months ago the FED’S step in‼️Making the producers reformulate, everything down to Very low Doses, & more Expensive, less Effective, Some Products are Not produced anymore⁉️ So Back to square one 😱😰 The Government wants people on the FDA’s Drugs BECAUSE OF THE KICK BACKS THEY GET … HUGE‼️ It’s Gone as FAR AS Missed Diagnosis of Cancer because the Kickback is so HUGE‼️
      $$$$$$$$$$$ Millions, that’s “WHY” side effects & Lots of PILLS, No let’s find Root Cause & HEAL‼️ This is How Much THEY LOVE YOU‼️ They have to maintain their Lifestyle OFF US‼️ 😂 😝They Don’t Realize Humans Aren’t STUPID‼️ All those Commercials on Pills & Illness … “CALLED PROGRAMING” and AS YOU GET OLD, Well MORE ILLNESS FROM MEDS THAT DON’T WORK‼️THEN 💀 ; The Government can SAVE $$$$$ On RETIREMENT ‼️ 😝 Really … They Do LOVE YOU SOoo… MUCH‼️
      “ God Bless Us 🙏 ✝️ 💜 who want to live in Harmony with Natural Mother Nature”
      Blessings to All; Pay Attention to the Vicious Circles & Bureaucrats 😝

  2. In ca. if you have a med. card it’s a lot cheaper and if it’s Vet. related it’s even cheaper

  3. It’s entirely possible that THC and CBD together offer even MORE health benefits because they somehow synergize and feed off each other to give what’s called the ‘entourage effect’ using the whole plant. This has been shown to be anti-carcinogenic and to produce an even greater anti-inflammatory outcome.

    They’ve just barely scratched the surface on all the benefits. Damn, we’ve come a long way since the 1960’s, when the only issue of concern was whether our incense would mask the sweet smell of cannabis smoke.

  4. I have a number of physical problems, arthritis everywhere. Need shoulder replacements. Have had my knees replaced and operations on my neck and lower back. I am living with a stenosis in my neck and lower back right now. I’m tired of operations and at 72 I’m trying,successfully, to medicate my way through the rest of my life instead of spending my life in hospitals or recuperating from surgeries. Also have PTSD from Vietnam. Taking THC tablets for that very effectively. Smoking before bed helps me sleep. I am using a Titanium pipe from Hititanium in Colorado so I don’t have to smoke paper.

    • Wow sounds like me but I’m 62 I don’t take opiates anymore and I just got my marijuana card last month-but it is very expensive,good luck to you

  5. Excellent article. Like many others, I’m a chronic pain patient as well. I lost my lower right leg four years ago, and until April of this year, I’ve been on daily opioids. My doc was “audited” and he reduced to to such a low amount that I decided to stop all together and use cannabis. I too never failed a test, but no matter. Personally, I’m grateful to be off the pills so I can return to my old friend. It’s amazing how much better I feel. I believe it’s just a matter of time before the entire nation goes green. My state (Missouri) votes in November.

    • YAY, JENN! I sure hope medical & recreational marijuana passes in Missouri in November. Michigan residents will also vote on the same issue for recreational marijuana in November. I’m still quite miserable but each day gets a little easier as I am adjusting my dose of CBD and THC by single drops per day. There’s a website called healer.com that tells you almost everything there is to know about medical marijuana and how to dial in your specific dose as well as other good info. GOOD LUCK!

  6. Teresa Sylvia on

    I USE CBD FOR FIBROMYALGIA, CERVICAL AND LUMBAR STENOSIS, DISC DEGENERATION, SLIPPED DISC IN CERVICAL AND LUMBAR AREA WITH RADICULAPATHY, AND I ABSOLUTELY SEE THE DIFFERENCE…I ALSO HAVE ANXIETY, SEVERE STRESS, …I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT…CLARKS NUTRITION SELLS IT…..

  7. Yvonne Andrews on

    I was having joints pain in both hands inside and outside and muscle weakness due to multiple sclerosis (MS). I was falling a lot, I had headaches and lightheadedness. I couldn’t keep myself balanced, and walk with a tremor like I cannot control my steps. The amantadine hydrochloride (Symmetrel®) and modafinil (Provigil®) did very little to help me. I still didn’t feel any better, Since the original diagnosis, My stiffness has slowly increased. October 2017 my brother in-law told us about Natural Herbal Gardens where he ordered herbs that effectively treated his Parkinson’s. We ordered their multiple sclerosis herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report this multiple sclerosis herbal treatment reversed my (MS) condition. My quality of life has greatly improved and every one of my symptoms including muscle weakness and tremors are gone. Their official web official website is ww w. naturalherbalgardens. c om. I can now go about my daily activities, I will be 64 soon.

  8. Chalice Farms on

    Excellent article! Knowing the difference between CBD and THC matters especially when you’re new to using medical marijuana. This is worth a share!

  9. Thanks for this post on thc and cbd. Very informative. I like cbd oil because it’s completely non-psychoactive and has many health benefits.

  10. Thanks for this great post on thc vs cbd, I am really in love with cbd oil because it’s non-psychoactive and the state government is working on legalizing cbd oil medically, even recently Wyden took to the Senate floor, accompanied by two baskets full of hemp products, to make just that point.

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