CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference?

Confused about cannabis? You’re not the only one who might be struggling to get your head around this misunderstood plant. That’s why in this article, we’ll start to debunk the myths by looking at the important differences between the two most well-known cannabinoids, THC and CBD. Let’s start with the obvious question...

What are they, and what’s so great about them?

THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. CBD stands for Cannabidiol. And before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight, just in case you were wondering: THC will get you high, while CBD won’t. It’s that simple.

Both THC and CBD are present in medical marijuana, legally available through a healthcare practitioner in some parts of the world. However, because THC is psychoactive and therefore banned in many countries and states, we’re much more excited about its friendlier cousin, CBD.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal, has no hallucinogenic properties, and is considered to offer a number of benefits. We think it’s fair to say that it’s all the rage, with products ranging from CBD-infused olive oil for use in your cooking to soothing skin care products you can incorporate into your bedtime ritual. Consumers are flocking to it as a tool with which to help support the modern, busy lifestyle. What’s not to love?

CBD versus THC: what’s similar, and what’s different?


THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, and they’re just two of over 100 different compounds found in the chemical makeup of the cannabis plant. They’re actually both made up of the same atoms: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms.

As we’ve already pointed out, the crucial difference between the two is that CBD isn’t psychoactive, so you won’t get high off it as you would with THC. In fact, CBD is even thought to mitigate some of the psychoactive effects of THC, including anxiety, paranoia and, of course, the ‘high’.

On the face of it, at least at the chemical level, CBD and THC seem virtually identical. So just what is it that makes CBD so different from THC? Bear with us - the answer is going to involve a bit of science. It’s all down to the molecular structures of the two compounds, which contain one minuscule difference - the placement of one atom - that leads THC to have a psychoactive effect while CBD doesn’t.

See, it’s all thanks to the fact that the two compounds react with receptors in the body that form part of what’s known as the Endocannabinoid system, currently a hot research topic and thought to keep many of the body’s other systems - such as the nervous and digestive systems - running smoothly.

There are two types of these receptors, which have the catchy names ‘CB1’ and ‘CB2’. CB1 receptors are found in the brain - specifically the parts of the brain that control things like your emotions, coordination and memory - while CB2 receptors are spread throughout your immune and central nervous systems. THC bonds itself directly with CB1 receptors found in your brain, hence its psychoactive effect. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t interact directly with the CB1 receptors, giving similar health benefits to THC without its mind-altering effects. Importantly, you won’t get addicted to it.

We’ll delve more into all the great health benefits of CBD in future articles, but for now let’s end with a quick recap of our main takeaway: THC is psychoactive, while CBD isn’t. It’s amazing the difference one atom can make.


The Chillery and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. The information and products presented on this site are not intended for medical use nor do they make any medical claims. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.

1 comment

Hi! I found you through Estee Lalonde’s podcast. I’m thinking of buying your vape pen for everyday stress (PTSD) and a CBD oil for sleep. I live in Norway where (I think) the THC limit is 0.00%, so what products can I but legally and what would you recommend for me?

Frida Aune August 05, 2019

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