What's the difference between CBD and THC?

What's the difference between CBD and THC? Well, the most important difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not produce a high effect. Although both cannabinoids deserve equal merit, at shopcbd we've chosen to work solely with CBD products made from hemp so that consumers don't have to worry about getting high.  

Cannabis sativa has two primary species; hemp and marijuana. Both contain CBD, but there's a much higher concentration in hemp, which also has very low levels of THC compared to marijuana.

CBD and THC have the same chemical composition – 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen.


What's the difference between CBD and THC?

So why does one get you high (THC) and the other doesn’t (CBD)? Because each one acts differently within the body. Although they are nearly twins, one atom makes all the difference. But before explaining what that means, it’s worth knowing how CBD and THC act within our bodies.

The cannabis plant has 113 known cannabinoids – CBD and THC are the most prominent. They both interact with a network of receptors in our bodies known as the Endocannabinoid System.

The endocannabinoid system is made up of two key components. Endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoid receptors are found in the brain, lungs, vascular system, colon, immune system, spleen, pancreas, reproductive organs, muscles, bones, and more. 

What are cannabinoids?

So by now, we know that both CBD and THC are cannabinoids. But what are cannabinoids? Long story short: they're chemical compounds that interact with the receptors that are part of the aforementioned endocannabinoid system. Despite what the name might indicate, they aren't only found in cannabis – cannabinoids are found in all types of plants.

Along with cannabis and hemp, cannabinoids are also found in:

  • Echinacea
  • Kava
  • Black truffles
  • Cocao

And more! These little compounds are found all over the place.

Different cannabinoids for different uses

THC and CBD have some similar properties and some that are very different. Because of the way they interact with the body, the way the body uses them is different, too.

Because THC produces a high, it’s not recommended for those who need to keep a clear head. If you need something to help you relax throughout the workday, you probably want to stay away from THC, as it could impair your performance at work.  

It’s always important to do your research. If you have questions, we’re always here to helpAnd, arguably most important – because CBD doesn’t produce a high like THC does, it’s better suited for day-to-day applications where you don’t want to (or can’t) be impaired.

Differences in detection

Something that a lot of people wonder when they’re curious about CBD is how long it stays active in the body, and if it shows up on drug tests. Good news: pure CBD, as in a CBD isolate that’s devoid of all other cannabinoids, does not ping on a drug test for THC or cannabis.

The main reason for this is that drug tests are looking for intoxicants, so they’re calibrated specifically for THC. If a CBD product is made with an isolate CBD compound, there’s no THC in it – and therefore it won’t ping on a test.

Can they work together?

Short answer: yes. Many experts believe that the effects of CBD are enhanced by the presence of trace amounts of THC. CBD extracts that contain a full range of cannabinoids are called full-spectrum CBD, and taking full-spectrum CBD results in what’s called the entourage effect.

The entourage effect is the idea that the effects of cannabinoids are enhanced by the presence of other cannabinoids. i.e. CBD with trace amounts of THC, along with other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC, CBA and more, will produce more effective results than CBD on its own.

So, while every product on shopCBD is within the legal tolerance of THC (0.3% or less), some are full-spectrum products with trace amounts of THC – and many people believe these products produce enhanced results.

Take a look at all of our full-spectrum CBD oils and tinctures.

How does it work?

The identification of cannabinoid receptors is relatively new. CB1 receptors were identified in the late 1980s and were found mostly in the part of the brain where mental and physiological processes such as memory, emotion, motor coordination, and cognition take place. CB2 receptors identified a few years later were found throughout the central nervous and immune systems.

Here’s where that atom comes in: while CBD and THC react the same way to CB2 receptors, it’s the reaction to CB1 receptors in the brain that makes CBD non-intoxicating, while THC produces a high.

THC binds directly with CB1 receptors and alters signals to the brain that result in psychoactive effects, or “getting high”. CBD does not bind with these receptors and may even cancel out the bond between THC and receptors, eliminating the high altogether.

All that we can say, is that CBD is a better choice for those not seeking the psychoactive effects of THC. For those looking to avoid THC altogether, CBD Isolates are the best choice.

CBD Isolate Products We Love

MedOil CBD Tincture 1000mg by Medterra

For consumers looking to find a high quality CBD Isolate tincture, this product is the perfect choice. It combines the power of a 99% pure CBD isolate extract with MCT oil. Because it's unflavored it can easily be added to smoothies, coffee or tea, and so much more. Containing approximately 33mg of CBD per dropper for a total of 1000mg per bottle, this tincture is the perfect choice for anyone looking to avoid THC.

CBD Recovery Gel Caps 1000mg 30ct by Social CBD


These capsules are a great choice for those looking to lower levels of inflammation because they contain turmeric and black pepper. Black pepper has been shown to increase the bioavailability of one of turmeric's active compounds known as curcumin. There have been countless studies showing that curcumin has the ability to lower levels of both pain and inflammation when taken on a regular basis. These capsules also contain approximately 33mg of Isolate CBD for a total of 1000mg per bottle. 

CBD Capsules Be Calm 450mg


This is one of our all-time favorite CBD products for anxiety. Not only does it contain no THC making it safe for anyone who undergoes regular drug testing, but it also contains a wide range of adaptogenic herbs and plants that help to calm the central nervous system. Containing approximately 15mg of CBD per capsule for a total of 450mg per bottle, this product is a safe choice for those looking to combine CBD with medicinal plants.

How much CBD should you take?

There's so much contradictory information out there in regard to the proper CBD dosage. For consumers that are looking for a starting point, we recommend checking out our CBD dosage calculator. Although figuring out the right CBD dosage for each consumer is a somewhat complicated process, it can be broken down quite simply.

There are three main things that each consumer should focus on when trying to figure out just how much CBD to take.

  1. Consumer weight
  2. Symptom severity
  3. Cannabinoid tolerance 

If we know the weight and the symptom severity of the consumer we're able to come up with an approximate dosage range. The aspect that no calculator can yet factor in is cannabinoid tolerance. What is cannabinoid tolerance? Some people's bodies are sensitive to cannabinoids feeling the effects almost immediately while others require much higher amounts to feel the effects because their bodies have a higher tolerance. 

We recommend starting at the lower end of the dosage recommendation provided by our dosage calculator and working up from there.

Key Takeaways

With 113 known cannabinoids it's important to take the time to understand the key ones such as CBD and THC. For all the consumers considering and comparing CBD vs THC the most important thing to keep in mind is that CBD can't produce a high effect. 

CBD isolate products are the best choice for those who are looking to avoid THC completely. To take a look at our CBD isolate products click here. For those looking to experience the entourage effect, full-spectrum CBD products are the best choice. To take a look at our full-spectrum CBD products click here

For additional info or questions feel free to contact our wellness experts by chat, email or phone. 

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