What are the differences between CBD and THC?

In the world of wellness and alternative medicine, two acronyms have attracted a lot of attention: CBD and THC. These compounds, derived from the cannabis plant, have generated a wave of curiosity, conversation and controversy. CBD(cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in cannabis, each offering a unique set of properties and effects. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between CBD and THC and identify their distinct attributes.

The Molecular Composition of CBD and THC

At their core, CBD and THC share a similar molecular structure, with 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. However, it is the arrangement of these atoms that explains the different effects these compounds have on the human body.

CBD and THC molecular structure - differences between CBD and THC
THC and CBD molecular structure

Psychoactive properties

One of the most significant distinctions between CBD and THC lies in their psychoactive properties. THC is notorious for its psychoactive effects, leading to the “high” feeling often associated with cannabis use. This is because THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, triggering the release of dopamine and altering perception, mood and cognition. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means that it does not induce a euphoric sensation. Instead, it interacts indirectly with CB1 receptors and influences various other receptors, contributing to its potential therapeutic effects.

Medical Applications

Both CBD and THC have shown promise in the medical field, albeit for different reasons. CBD’s therapeutic potential lies in its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anxiolytic properties. It has been explored for its potential to relieve conditions such as anxiety, pain, epilepsy and even acne. On the other hand, THC has been predominantly recognized for its effects on pain relief, appetite stimulation and combating nausea. It is often used in medical settings to help patients manage chronic pain and symptoms related to chemotherapy.

Legal considerations

The legal landscape surrounding CBD and THC varies significantly. Due to its psychoactive nature, THC remains a controlled substance in many parts of the world. However, some regions have begun to decriminalize or legalize its use for medical or even recreational purposes. CBD, with its non-intoxicating nature, has found wider legality. In several European countries, as well as Portugal, it is legal to sell, buy and consume CBD as long as it is derived from hemp seeds with a THC content of less than 0.2%. Today, with the expansion of the CBD market, there are already several physical and online stores where you can buy CBD in Portugal. Naturally, we recommend that you visit our stores(in Porto and online here 🙂 ).

Side effects

There are many differences between CBD and THC, including the side effects caused by each substance. The psychoactive effects of THC can lead to impaired cognitive function, memory problems and even anxiety in some people, particularly when consumed in high doses. CBD, on the other hand, is considered relatively safe, with few reported side effects. However, some users have experienced mild symptoms such as drowsiness, dry mouth or changes in appetite.

Interaction with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. The differences between CBD and THC are also evident in the way these compounds interact with the ECS. CBD influences the ECS by indirectly enhancing the activity of cannabinoid receptors, modulating the release of neurotransmitters and encouraging the production of endocannabinoids. THC, on the other hand, binds directly to CB1 receptors, which are abundant in the brain and central nervous system.

Full Spectrum vs. Isolated

CBD and THC are often consumed in various forms, as full-spectrum products or on their own. Full-spectrum products contain a variety of cannabinoids, including minimal amounts of THC, which can work synergistically to produce what is known as the “entourage effect”. The isolates, on the other hand, contain only the pure cannabinoid compound, devoid of other compounds found in the plant. This distinction can affect the overall experience and potential benefits.


In the big picture of cannabis, CBD and THC are two threads that weave a complex and intricate pattern. Although they share common origins, the differences between CBD and THC are clear and their divergent effects, legal considerations and medical applications define them as distinct. The journey to understanding these compounds involves careful consideration of their molecular composition, effects on the body and potential benefits and risks.

Whatever your goal, whether it’s to relax without intoxication or to relieve chronic pain, CBD and THC offer different avenues to explore. As research into cannabis continues to expand, so does our understanding of these compounds and their potential to improve our well-being.

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