Difference Between Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabinol are chemicals extracted from the Cannabis sativa plants. They are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis products. Cannabinoids cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the immune and central nervous systems. The various side effects of cannabinoids include mood changes, hallucinations, delusions, inability to think straight and solve problems, altered sense of time, and impaired judgment, among others. This discussion presents the differences between Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and one condition in which CBD is known to help alleviate its symptoms.

The significant difference between Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabinol is that CBD binds weakly with the cannabinoid brain receptors, thus reducing the psychoactive effects of THC, including sedation and euphoria. On the other hand, THC produces a high sense of euphoria and sedation in the body since it binds with the cannabinoid receptors quickly. In addition, the two chemicals may differ in the side effects they cause in the body, especially when they interact with other drugs that the individual is using. For example, CBD’s side effects include weight loss, drowsiness, appetite changes, and increased suicidal thoughts, while THCs side effects include memory loss, coordination problems, and anxiety.

One of the conditions listed on project CBD in which CBD is known to help include inflammation. According to Pahwa, Goyal, and Jialal (2022), inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism by which the immune system recognizes and deals with harmful and foreign stimuli, starting the healing process for infections. However, unregulated inflammation becomes a medical condition. The symptoms of inflammation include pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness. Inflammation can either be chronic or acute inflammation. Acute inflammation occurs for a short period of time and symptoms for a few days, while chronic inflammation occurs for a longer period of time, depending on the cause of injury and the body’s ability to repair and overcome the damage caused (Pahwa et al., 2022).

Cannabinoids are one of the substances that help fight inflammation. Research shows that CBD alleviates inflammation symptoms. Lima et al. (2021) state that CBD produces inflammatory immune suppression in healthy people. However, the effect is insufficient to alter the inflammatory mediator’s level in individuals with highly dysfunctional inflammatory activation (Hobbs et al., 2020). Therefore, CDB is most effective when the inflammation has not reached the dysfunctional inflammatory activation levels.

Furthermore, existing literature indicates that the efficacy of CBD in treating inflammation and pain lacks enough evidence. A review by Sholler, Schoene, & Spindle (2020) shows that despite the availability of human laboratory studies and clinical trials on the efficacy of CBD in alleviating symptoms of inflammation, there is no substantive evidence to demonstrate its utility. The available evidence is either mixed, generalized with other conditions, or lacks randomized control placebo trials. Significant concerns that compromise the efficacy of CBD research include its adverse side effects, such as liver toxicity, adverse drug-drug interactions, and inadequate regulatory oversight of CBD products. It is worth noting that the only FDA-approved CBD product is Epidiolex-meant for treating epilepsy.

In summary, Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabinol are some of the most common products from cannabis and hemp. The major difference is in their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, with THC producing psychoactive effects- euphoria and sedation, and CBD reducing them. Despite inflammation being listed on project CBD as one of the conditions treated using CBD products, literature shows there is no adequate evidence to validate the efficacy of CBD in alleviating inflammation symptoms.


Hobbs, J. M., Vazquez, A. R., Remijan, N. D., Trotter, R. E., McMillan, T. V., Freedman, K. E., Wei, Y., Woelfel, K. A., Arnold, O. R., Wolfe, L. M., Johnson, S. A., & Weir, T. L. (2020). Evaluation of pharmacokinetics and acute anti-inflammatory potential of two oral cannabidiol preparations in healthy adults. Phototherapy Research: PTR34(7), 1696–1703. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6651

Lima, M. G., Tardelli, V. S., Brietzke, E., & Fidalgo, T. M. (2021). Cannabis and Inflammatory Mediators. European Addiction Research27(1), 16–24. https://doi.org/10.1159/000508840

Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. (2022). In: StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

Sholler, D. J., Schoene, L., & Spindle, T. R. (2020). Therapeutic efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD): a review of the evidence from clinical trials and human laboratory studies. Current Addiction Reports7(3), 405-412. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-020-00326-8

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