Differences between THC and CBD (What to Expect)

If you are just starting out with cannabis, or you are looking to try a new strain, one question you’ll find yourself asking in no time is this: what is the difference between THC and CBD?

Let’s imagine you consume a strain with higher levels of THC on one occasion and one with more CBD another time. What effects would you feel on each separate occasion? How do they differ? Which one is right for you? To begin with, it’s worthwhile learning what THC and CBD actually are.

What are THC and CBD?

Each cannabis plant contains hundreds of chemical substances, many of which are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids occur in the plant’s trichomes – the tiny hairs that can be seen sticking out of the plant’s flowers and leaves. Cannabinoids affect cell receptors in the brain and body by changing the way those cells behave and communicate with each other. They do so in different ways which is why different concentrations of different cannabinoids will affect you in different ways. The two most notorious and well-documented of all the cannabinoids are THC and CBD.


Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is the most widely known of all the cannabinoids. It is also the most researched. This is because THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis. The level of THC will affect how high it makes you feel.


While THC produces a high, Cannabidiol, or CBD, has no high or intoxicating effect. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that CBD may even block or lower some of the effects of THC on the mind. Despite this CBD can still have therapeutic properties and a relaxing effect on the body.

So what’s the difference between THC and CBD?

There are two main strains of the cannabis plant: sativa and indica. Hybrid plants, as the name suggests, are a hybrid of indica and sativa. Sativa plants tend to contain higher concentrations of THC while indica plants contain more CBD. Hybrids tend to contain a mixture of the properties of sativa and indica. When choosing a cannabis product, whether it’s a dried plant, oil, or edible, pay attention to the label. It will tell you whether it’s an indica, sativa or hybrid as well as its percentages of THC and CBD.

What can I expect from a THC-dominant product?

Let’s say you are someone who opts for a THC-dominant sativa strain, after a short time you will start to feel high. When people refer to being high they really mean they are experiencing a sense of euphoria. You might put some music on. You start to notice it sounds better. You hear parts of the song you hadn’t noticed before, almost as if you feel it in a different way. This is because THC-dominant strains heighten your senses. Lots of people say marijuana enhances their enjoyment of music, films, art and food. We perceive the world through our senses so by heightening them, cannabis changes the way we see, hear, taste and smell things. A creative person may start to feel the urge to paint, draw, write or do whatever it is they have a talent for. A way to overcome the artistic stumbling block that has been taunting you for weeks may suddenly strike you. Research into the links between cannabis and creativity is limited. For example, this study, found that cannabis increases verbal fluency, one aspect of creativity. Nonetheless, many people consume marijuana because they believe it makes them more creative. These effects are more likely to be found in a THC-dominant plant. You might start to feel energetic, like you want to exercise. It may be hard for some to believe because it runs counter to the stereotype of the lazy stoner stuck to the couch all day but, in fact, scientists are starting to investigate the benefits of using cannabis as an exercise aid. Anecdotally, cannabis users say they use marijuana before a workout because it gives them a burst of energy.

What can I expect from a CBD-dominant product?


Unlike a THC-dominant product, if you were to consume something with higher levels of CBD you may not feel any intoxicating effects at all. CBD is notable, however, for its ever-increasing list of health benefits and medical applications. After consuming a high-CBD product, you may also start to feel your sense of well-being has improved, you are more at ease and relaxed. Cannabis with higher levels of CBD has been medically prescribed to treat such conditions as anxiety, stress and depression We recommend consulting your doctor to about whether it can help you with any conditions you live with. As opposed to strains with higher concentrations of THC that may make you feel energetic, you might start to feel more relaxed and sleepy with a CBD- dominant strain – another application of cannabis is to treat insomnia. CBD has been found to interact more with receptors in the body than in the mind, as is the case for THC. For this reason, you may hear users talk about feeling a “body high” rather than “head high”.

Which strains should I try?


For many people, when they want to use marijuana for recreational purposes, they will probably be looking for a strain that has high levels of THC. As cultivation has developed over the years, plants with more potent levels of THC have started to become more widely available. If this is what you are looking for, you should look for a sativa strain with a higher percentage of THC than CBD. While the effects outlined above may be what certain people want out of their experience with cannabis, others may find these characteristics undesirable. Some users may prefer cannabis that is more relaxing without affecting the brain. These people would be better suited to consuming CBD- dominant strains, most-frequently originating from indica plants. As with a lot of things in life, finding the right balance can be crucial in deciding whether or not we enjoy them. A person might prefer the taste of a darkly-roasted coffee but still want the higher caffeine level of a light roast. The solution for them could be a medium roast. For people who understand the difference between THC and CBD and want a mixture of their properties, they are most likely to find what they are looking for in a strain with balanced levels of the two, most commonly found in a hybrid plant.

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