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The use of cannabis compounds is becoming more prevalent across the US, and more and more people are taking an interest in natural remedies that can provide health benefits. With legislation changing, and cannabis-based products becoming more widely available, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about and which compounds are most effective. The cannabis plant contains several different compounds, but there are two that are much more prominent, CBD and THC. This guide will explore the similarities and differences between THC and CBD and provide an insight into how they affect the body.

CBD vs THC: the molecular structure

Although CBD and THC are not the same, they have identical molecular structures. Both compounds comprise 21 carbon atoms, 2 oxygen atoms, and 30 hydrogen atoms. The difference lies in the arrangement of the atoms, which results in the different bodily response to each compound. CBD and THC are both chemically similar to the body’s natural endocannabinoids, which enables them to interact with cannabinoid receptors.

The impact on the body

Although CBD and THC have the same chemical structure, they do not have the same effect on the body. THC binds with your body’s CB1 receptor, which gives you the euphoric high often associated with consuming marijuana. CBD doesn’t have this psychoactive effect and is, therefore, more widely used for medical purposes.

Both CBD and THC are proven to offer a wide range of health benefits, most notably the management of chronic pain and inflammation. As CBD doesn’t produce a ‘high,’ it is often a more popular choice for patients.

The use of CBD and THC

There are multiple conditions and symptoms that can be improved, treated or managed using both THC and CBD, and many of the benefits are shared by both compounds. CBD is used to treat anxiety, seizures, pain, psychosis, sleep disorders, migraines, inflammatory bowel conditions, and depression, while THC may be recommended for muscle spasms, chronic pain,, insomnia, nausea, glaucoma, and anxiety.

Studies suggest that CBD is usually well tolerated by the body, but the risk of side-effects may be higher when using THC. Examples of side effects that may occur include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritated, red eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Increased reaction time

There is evidence to suggest that long-term use of THC can increase the risk of side-effects, and CBD is often recommended as the best option.

The legal issue

The legislation related to THC and CBD is evolving constantly in the US, and rules vary from one state to another. The use of medical marijuana has become more widespread in recent years, and it does seem like the trend for legalization will continue. If you are thinking of buying CBD or THC based products, for example, CBD oil, you’ll need to check the latest regulations in your state. If marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use, you should be able to buy products legally.


CBD and THC are the most high-profile compounds derived from the cannabis plants. Although similar, these compounds have a very different effect on the body, and it’s important to understand the differences before you decide to try either CBD or THC based products.