CBD vs. THC For Pain Management: What’s The Difference?

CBD vs. THC For Pain Management

Nowadays, cannabis products CBD and THC are getting more attention as many countries are withdrawing the restrictions made on these products due to their benefits for human health. Even though CBD and THC are extracted from cannabis, the reactions they cause to your body are different. This article discusses the role of these compounds in your body in relieving pain. It also describes how both of them differ from each other. You can go through this article to get knowledge about CBD and THC. Now, without sparing your time, go through the article to understand the benefits of CBD and THC. 

What is CBD?

As already mentioned, CBD or cannabidiol is a cannabis product that is extracted from the Cannabis Sativa plant. Several CBD products are available in the market like gummies, supplements, oils, tinctures, and many more. Generally, CBD products do not produce a high feeling or psychoactive actions in the users as the amount of THC contained in it is less than 0.3%. As a result, it is considered legal. CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your body to relieve pain and improve mood.

What is THC?

THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the product of cannabis which is responsible for creating a psychoactive effect in the body. THC products are available to you in the form of edibles, oils, tinctures, and capsules, or can be enjoyed by smoking cannabis. It can control your memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, sleep, and other actions. 

Chemical structuring of CBD and THC

The molecular structuring of both CBD and THC are the same which includes 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. But the difference in the arrangement of the atoms is what makes them entirely different from each other. 

The chemical structure of CBD and THC is similar to that of endocannabinoids present in the brain and several other parts of your body. It is this feature of these compounds that make them easily interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This action helps in the stimulation of neurotransmitters in your body which helps in relieving pain, reducing stress, enhancing sleep, etc. 

Chemical structuring of CBD and THC

Psychoactive effects of CBD and THC

A slight change in the arrangement of atoms of the molecules makes THC different from CBD. THC possesses some psychoactive effects on your body making you high in its consumption, unlike CBD products. The THC compound directly interacts with the CB1(cannabinoid 1) receptors in the brain creating a sense of euphoria. The intensity of this effect depends on the way of consumption of THC. Your body will show a high effect if the product is inhaled instead of oral consumption. 

While CBD on the other hand very slightly interacts with the cannabinoid receptors. CBD needs THC to interfere with receptors and since the traces of THC are very less, say, below 0.3%, it is incapable of creating a euphoric effect on you.

The legality of CBD and THC

The legality of the cannabis product varies depending on the location. In the US, many legal considerations are made regarding the use of these products. The legality of the products is based on the amount of THC level in the products. Many countries restrict the usage of cannabis products if the THC level is above 0.3%, which is hazardous to human health. 

However, the consumption of marijuana which contains a high amount of THC is illegal according to US law. In December 2018, hemp was legalized by the government. But there exists certain rules and guidelines for the sale of the products. All the sales of CBD products are considered illegal if it is sold with promising medical benefits for the body. It is always better to follow the rules that are put forward by your country before purchasing or selling cannabis products.

Health benefits of CBD and THC

There are several benefits of CBD and THC in the human body. These products are found effective to relieve the disorders like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pains, and so on. It is also known to treat childhood epilepsy and the discomforts accompanied by it. CBD products also soothe inflammation, and pains associated with it.

Health benefits of CBD and THC

FDA approved the use of CBD products, Epidiolex to treat a rare form of epilepsy that is difficult to control. CBD is found effective in treating the following medical situations.

  • Inflammations and pain,
  • Seizures and associated symptoms,
  • Psychosis and mental disorders,
  • Anxiety and depression,
  • Fatigue and tiredness,
  • Migraine and nausea, 
  • Sleep disorders, 
  • Schizophrenia, etc.

When coming to the health benefits of THC, many states are approving the consumption of THC as a part of medical marijuana. Two formulations of THC are approved by the FDA, namely Nabilone (Cesamet) and Dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros). Nabilone is used for reducing nausea, vomiting, and other discomforts followed by chemotherapy. Dronabinol is also approved by the FDA to treat nausea and vomiting caused due to the intake of chemotherapy drugs. Apart from it, this drug can be used to treat reduced appetite in those with AIDS, anorexia, and other related disorders.

THC is found effective to treat the following health issues

  • Pains and inflammations,
  • Muscle spasms,
  • Insomnia and lowered mood,
  • Nausea,
  • Reduced appetite,
  • Anxiety, 
  • Glaucoma,  
  • Chronic neuropathic pain, etc.

Side effects of CBD and THC

As CBD does create a euphoric effect in the body, it is preferred over THC. Even a high dosage of CBD can be tolerated by the human body as it is free from THC. However, you will notice some side effects in your body if you are taking any other medications as it interacts with those drugs to bring symptoms. Some of those symptoms which you will notice are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Improper bowel movement
  • Loss of mental focus
  • Improper appetite
  • Sleepiness and drowsiness
  • Digestion problems and stomach upset

THC on the other hand causes some temporary side effects in your body which are:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Memory loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced mental clarity
  • Reduced reflex action
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Lowered balance

However, neither CBD nor THC makes you fatal. But long-term use of THC might make you prone to permanent psychiatric symptoms. Especially adolescents who take a high dosage of THC become victims of uncontrollable behaviors. It increases suicidal tendencies, depression, psychosis, anxiety, and schizophrenia in them. 

CBD and THC as pain relievers

Both CBD and THC are excellent in relieving pain. They work by directly interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the body which are capable of controlling several functions like sleep, mood, pain, appetite, etc. But their interference with different cannabinoid receptors in the body makes them different from each other. 

THC stimulates the cannabinoid receptors in the nerve cells and immune cells. When it activates the receptors in the nerve cells, you will experience a reduction in pain and inflammation. The THC compound creates a slight euphoric effect to soothe chronic pains. 

While CBD stimulates the secretion of serotonin which has wound-healing and pain-relieving potency. It also interacts with glycine receptors in the body to relieve pain. CBD interacts with the core part of the ECS system of your body which are receptors making direct communication with the brain and immune system. These receptors are proteins attached to the cells. These cannabinoid receptors receive response signals from the parts of your body and the response creates relief from pain and inflammation. So, CBD and THC products can be used to soothe chronic pain and inflammation.

Which one is better for relieving pain – CBD or THC?

The above portion explained the way THC and CBD function in your body to relieve pain. You might have understood that both of them work to relieve pain. But which one of them relieves pain instantly and which one is efficient in relieving pain? This portion of the article compares both of them to realize which one is better among them.

Even though THC creates a ‘high’ effect in the users, it is considered to relieve pain and inflammations, effectively and instantly. It is found that the products with higher THC-CBD ratios will give more effective results on pain than those of higher CBD-THC ratios.

THC can induce relaxation and sedation for you which helps in relieving pain. But at the same time, you will also experience hallucinations, reduced thinking ability, loss of focus, and short-term memory recall problems, accompanied by pain relief. Due to these adverse effects caused by THC in your body, many health experts do not encourage the use of THC for relieving pain. Although CBD provides a slow result when compared with THC products, it provides relief without causing many side effects.


After going through this article, you might be able to know about the cannabis products CBD and THC from different aspects. Both of them possess several benefits and the major one among them is relieving pain. 

THC works better in relieving pain than CBD. But due to the euphoric effect produced by THC, CBD is preferred over THC. However, considering the legal policies of your state is vital before buying and consuming cannabis products to avoid the inconveniences accompanied by it.

Dr. Edward Zelman

Dr. Edward Zelman

Dr. Edward Zelman is a distinguished and highly respected medical professional who has dedicated his career to the field of general medicine. With a profound commitment to patient care and a wealth of knowledge acquired over decades of practice, Dr. Zelman has earned a reputation as a trusted healthcare provider in his community. With a career defined by excellence and an unwavering commitment to the betterment of his patients and the broader community, Dr. Edward Zelman stands as a pillar of the medical field, dedicated to the principles of healing and compassionate care. At present, Dr. Edward Zelman is researching safe and effective natural remedies that can restore as well as maintain the youthful functioning of the body.

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