Posted 7 years ago by Ian Shutts

The two most prevalent cannabinoids in marijuana are the famous THC and its counterpart, CBD. In many conversations about THC and CBD, the two are often compared for a matter of one being better than the other. But that doesn’t have to be the case. The qualities of the two are significantly different from one another in terms of the experiences that they offer and the medicinal benefits that they hold.

We can consider THC and CBD as good sisters who love to help each other out. Despite the fact that there are many who prefer THC and many who prefer CBD, the two actually work best when they are working together. This is called the entourage effect, which we will elaborate on later. The essential point to be aware of is that these two cannabinoids, although fundamentally different, are not in competition with one another. They are the building blocks of our favourite herb, called marijuana.

THC is psychoactive
thcOne of the main definable differences between THC and CBD is that THC is psychoactive. In fact, this cannabinoid is what is responsible for giving users the “stoned” sensation that makes people love marijuana so very much. Without this cannabinoid, there would be no psychoactive or psychedelic effect from weed whatsoever. On the other hand, CBD is actually anti-psychotic, which is why it is sometimes recommended to those who have emotional or mental illnesses. CBD is also having the effect of counteracting the effects of THC, making the experience overall more balanced.

Most recreational users lean towards high THC strains of marijuana for this exact reason – because it makes you high. But there’s more to it than that. THC very closely resembles one of the body’s natural endocannabinoids called anandamide, otherwise known as the bliss molecule. When it is activated, a person suddenly feels euphoric or blissful, which is an emotional response often linked with the use of THC.

Medicinal use vs. recreational use
Sometimes, considering the “THC vs. CBD” argument is synonymous with considering whether marijuana is medical or recreational. That’s not to say that THC doesn’t have medicinal value, because, as a cannabinoid, it carries many medicinal properties. However, when we look at the reasons that some people might want to choose one cannabinoid over another, this seems like a very pertinent topic.

Often, CBD is hailed as the more medicinal of the two cannabinoids, mainly because it lacks the psychoactive property. In lacking it, the only reason people might want to use it is for the medicinal value that it carries. It is also the cannabinoid that is recommended for younger children and elderly people, because it can be used without inducing any kind of intoxication. Modern technology has actually given us the freedom to choose which cannabinoid we want to use by giving us a range of products that are cannabinoid specific, such as CBD oil. Once upon a time, we didn’t have this choice, and we had to accept the plant as it was – with its entire cannabinoid profile.

Different effects of THC and CBD
the effects of thc and cbdIn general, the actual effects that THC or CBD induce on the user are different. Whereas THC induces sleepiness, CBD causes wakefulness. If marijuana is being used as a medicine for insomnia, it is highly recommended to use strains of marijuana that are high in THC. On the other hand, for those who are chronically fatigued or experience depression, CBD is the recommended cannabinoid.

THC also has the qualities of being an anti-inflammatory and being a strong pain killer. It is for these reasons that people who are coming out of surgery or serious injuries might use marijuana as a medicine. It is also an antioxidant, an anti-spasmodic and a muscle relaxant. So, as well as giving the user a stoned effect, THC is also giving the body a myriad of medicinal benefits.

CBD has its effect in the body and the brain, and because of its anti-psychotic effects is often recommended to people with anxiety or depression. There are some studies which suggest that CBD might even be a great medicine for sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As well as being a natural mood enhancer (without psychoactive effects), CBD is also considered to be the anti-cancer agent in marijuana. It inhibits cancer cell migration and might even have the power to reduce the size of tumors. It has been used to treat lukemia in some patients. There are also studies to suggest that CBD is a powerful anti-convulsant medicine, giving some children with epilepsy an alternative to chemical medication.

Synergy and the entourage effect
synergyFor good measure, it’s important to acknowledge a phenomenon that scientists call the entourage effect. It is a way to describe the synergy between the different elements of any plant. In this case, we are talking about the way that different cannabinoids and terpenoids inside of marijuana work together to give the plant the healing power that it has. Technology might be doing us a favor by isolating certain cannabinoids so that those who choose not to get stoned can still get the medicinal benefits of marijuana. However, according to the entourage effect, we might actually be taking some of the medical value out by isolating cannabinoids.

The entourage effect tells us that CBD and THC are the most valuable when they are seen working together. The entourage effect also includes the many other terpenoids and cannabinoids that are present in any single given marijuana plant. It’s a way of saying that “it’s all in the mix”, the same way that minestrone wouldn’t be delicious if it was just made out of carrots. What makes marijuana, marijuana is the concoction of chemicals inside of it, and the plant as a whole is healing as it is – or at least, that’s what the entourage effect tells us.

There are elements of CBD that make THC more effective, and vise versa. When we consider the opposite nature of the two cannabinoids, it seems to make sense. For example, the presence of both cannabinoids in a single plant means that someone can get stoned without getting too stoned, or can receive the medicinal benefits of THC while having CBD to counteract the psychoactive effect. This is an example of the benefits of the entourage effect.

That does not necessarily mean that the two cannabinoids have no value on their own. In fact, modern research shows otherwise and so does a lot of the anecdotal evidence. However, the entourage effect also takes the “competition” factor out of the equation, showing us that the two cannabinoids are in fact, there to help each other, rather than to compete with one another.

Marijuana is bigger than just THC and CBD
Until now, the marijuana industry has focused heavily on THC and CBD. However, these are not the only two cannabinoids present in the marijuana plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids in weed – at least that we know about. And that’s not to mention the hundreds of other compounds in marijuana, such as terpenoids and flavinoids. It is a plant containing many active ingredients, and this is what makes it such an intelligent herb.

Marijuana is much bigger than just THC and CBD. It is, in fact, full of medicinal value, especially when we use it just as it is. The synergistic effect of all of the components of marijuana makes it infinitely more powerful than when we isolate just a couple of cannabinoids from its long list of medicinal components.