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The Essential Guide to Utilizing Both CBD and THC in Cannabis

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Have you ever wondered what the difference between CBD and THC is?

Look no further than this handy guide to the most famous compounds in cannabis. In this article, we’ll look at the main differences between the two, their respective properties and how they affect the body, and the benefits of each.

We’ll also cover how to consume CBD vs THC, the side effects of each, and why CBD has gained popularity in recent years.

Along the way, we’ll discover the legality of each and why Sava is your best online cannabis delivery in San Francisco Bay area for obtaining quality products. We carefully select each product from the finest selection of California-grown cannabis to best cater to your wellbeing.

Now, let’s dive in!

CANN cranberry sage flavor in can

Cannabidiol (CBD) vs Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

To understand the difference between CBD and THC, we have to first understand what they are in the first place.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are just two of more than 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Simply put, cannabinoids are organic chemical compounds secreted by the plant that just happen to imitate humans’ own endocannabinoids (specialized neurotransmitters). Neurotransmitters are chemical compounds that relay messages from the brain to the body (think of other neurotransmitters like adrenaline or serotonin).

The body has an entire system dedicated to endocannabinoids, which help regulate mood, memory, movement and coordination, emotion, and motivation, among many other important processes.

Basically, the chemicals CBD and THC and the brain are like a key and lock. The chemicals have a certain structure (the key) that fits into the brain (the lock).

What is THC?

THC is the most famous and most prevalent organic chemical found in the cannabis plant because of its distinct psychotropic effect, giving the consumer the “high” feeling.

Briefly, when we consume THC, it basically fits the “lock and key” of the brain. It causes a cascading, domino effect that affects other neurotransmitters, causing feelings of euphoria that typically occupies both body and mind and might create time distortion.


What is CBD?

CBD is another principal cannabinoid found in cannabis. On average, a typical cannabis plant will be made up of approximately 12% THC and 1-4% CBD.

CBD is psychoactive because it acts primarily on the central nervous system and alters brain function. But, CBD does not produce the intoxicating effect of THC or "feeling high".

Chemical Differences

CBD and THC are actually very similar when you look at the chemical structure of cannabinoids. In fact, they have the exact same chemical structure; each has 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, the key difference is in a tiny connection between a carbon ring and oxygen atom.

If you look at the image below, you can see how THC has a complete carbon ring in the center, while in CBD, it is broken. One little connection makes all the difference.


Properties of THC vs CBD

Both CBD and THC have distinct properties.

For THC, those can include euphoria, relaxation, introspection, creativity, sedation, sensory alteration, appetite stimulation, focus, and energy.

The properties of CBD include the reports by patients of reducing or eliminating seizures, promoting relaxation, stress relief, stories of fighting the growth of tumor or cancer cells, acting as an antipsychotic agent.

In tandem, CBD and THC can provide the body with a host of beneficial effects, as we'll discover below.

How do CBD and THC Interact with the Body?


Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids that interact with the body's natural endocannabinoid system.

There are three main components to understanding this system: the endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.

Because CBD and THC can mimic the structure of our naturally occurring endocannabinoids, we experience a flood of these neurotransmitters whenever we consume cannabis.

CBD and THC bind to the receptor of a cell (the lock and key), then, once its task is finished, important enzymes break down the chemical compound. (Think of your liver breaking down alcohol.)

Normally, the human body has natural endocannabinoids floating around our bloodstream, regulating important processes. When we smoke, eat, or vape, we ingest a greater amount of molecules that can trick the brain into thinking there are more endocannabinoids in our system.

Although we have endocannabinoid receptors in many different places in the brain (such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus), we actually have these receptors all over our body, including our spinal column, arms, legs, and stomach area, among others.

The main difference between CBD and THC here is that CBD doesn't bind to the same receptors as TCH does. In fact, scientists suspect it doesn't bind to receptors at all but that it instead blocks other endocannabinoids from being broken down.

Better Together / The Entourage Effect

Think of your squad and how awesome you are together. You could say the same when it comes to CBD and THC.

You can always consume either separately, but there is some evidence that consuming CBD and THC together, along with other organic compounds found in cannabis (like terpenes, flavonoids, and amino acids) is more effective than taking either one separately. The entirety of the pharmacological effect is greater than the sum of the parts!

Mother Nature designed one cool plant.

Hand outstretched holding Papa and Barkley CBD THC cannabis topical

Health Benefits of Cannabis

We could write a whole book on this particular topic, but let’s start here with a brief overview of the main themes.

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Its uses are as diverse as the people who consume it. Part of the appeal of cannabis is that it is safer than opioids (it is impossible to overdose), and it can be a safe alternative to other pain management pills.

The studies surrounding cannabis are still developing because it is (unfortunately) classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). That means that it is extremely difficult for scientists to conduct rigorous studies, which is why it is important to contact your senator and voice your support for the federal legalization of cannabis.

Here’s a list of the health benefits of Cannabis from the two famous chemicals.

Benefits of CBD

Although research is still in its infancy, there are already numerous CBD health benefits. Settle in, because this list is long and still growing. CBD has been used by people to treat pain associated with the following:

Benefits of THC

While mostly sought for the notable high that can be achieved, there are other important ways consuming THC can benefit your body and mind: 

But wait, there's more! CBD has also been said to improve certain skin conditions, like acne and psoriasis. In addition to CBD benefits, it promotes cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and relieving stress and tension. It is a powerful antioxidant, which helps prevent cell damage. There is also growing evidence that CBD may be used as a preventative for diabetes.

But CBD isn't just good for your body, it's also great for your mind. It may also relieve certain disorders such as anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and may have antipsychotic effects in patients with psychosis.

Finally, CBD has been used by some to manage effects of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's Disease, and Alzheimer's Disease.

close up of hand holder Care By Design tincture and dropper
Woman holding Care By Design gel caps

Why is CBD So Popular?

So is CBD still beneficial without THC? Absolutely! There is still plenty of research that says that CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety compound.

CBD has gained popularity in recent years because of its unique properties. As a cannabinoid, it provides many benefits without the intoxicating feeling of THC. This means that it is ideal for people who suffer from pain, anxiety, or other ailments and desire relief from their symptoms, without the feeling of "being high."

mobile phone screen with cannabis leaf showing Sava website online

How to Use CBD and THC Products

When you are looking for a cannabis product to consume, whether CBD or THC, make sure it has these three aspects: full or broad-spectrum oil, lab tested, and organic.

The oil has the full spectrum of all cannabinoids, not just CBD or THC.

Lab Tested
In the state of California, all cannabis products must be rigorously tested and pass through 3 stages of compliance before they hit the shelves.

Organic growing practices
While cannabis cannot receive the “organic” seal, many growers use organic growing methods.

At Sava, we stock quality products that hit all these points, so you don't have to worry. Shop our CBD products and find out the many ways you can enjoy CBD below.

Shop our CBD products and find out the many ways you can enjoy CBD below.

Jade color Pax Era Pro

Vaping and Smoking

You can inhale CBD flowers just like regular cannabis. This is the quickest way for the CBD to enter your bloodstream, and it also provides the highest concentration of CBD.

However, smoking and vaping can be harsh on the throat and lungs. In addition, while the safety and long-term health effects of vaping or smoking cannabis aren't well known, you should consider that utilizing your lungs in a way they were not designed for may have some degree of negative impact.

Finally, you'll have to have additional equipment (such as glassware, rolling papers, and a lighter) to enjoy.

Container of Tart Cherry PLUS brand CBD gummies


Consuming edibles are a great and tasty way to enjoy the myriad benefits of CBD. They are discreet, so you can enjoy them virtually anywhere without attracting too much attention. In addition, you can use CBD oil and add it to a wide variety of food and drink, so your options are limitless when it comes to ingestion.

The only downsides are that it can take a while for the effects to be noticed since ingestion is the slowest-acting and that finding the right dosage can be tricky. Other than that, edibles come with a very specific dosage, so you can at least closely measure how much you are taking and learn how your body responds (we always suggest starting small and increasing slowly!).

For your toughest aches and pains, try 18:1 Tart Cherry CBD Gummies. They are as good as it gets for powerful relief. Each gummy has 18mg of CBD with 1mg of THC. They are specially formulated for anyone who needs a bit of extra strength. As an added bonus, they are great for anxiety, stress, and the low THC content will be sure to uplift your mood.

Bottle of Sweet Jane CBD 1:1 Tincture


Sublingual is edibles' hipper, health-conscious cousins. If you don't want to consume any extra sugar or calories, then try to use CBD oil in the form of tinctures, sprays, oil, or lozenges.

These products are designed to be placed under the tongue, and because of this, they absorb faster than edible products, so you can feel relief in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

The dosage is easy to control and preserves more of the CBD than edibles as well. However, expect to become acquainted with cannabis's very earthy and strong taste. If you want a no-frills CBD product, then sublingual is for you.

If you’re curious and want to use cannabis oil, try Sweet Jane CBD 1:1 Tincture. This moderate-psychoactivity dosage from the Humboldt Apothecary contains approximately 8mg of THC per 1mL dose, so a little goes a long way. Great for minor pain relief, nausea, minor inflammation, or if you're feeling stressed out. With peppermint essential oil, your senses will be awakened and refreshed after administration.

The Farmaceuticals brand therapy balm

Topicals (Creams and Balms)

Another great way to use CBD is with topicals, like creams, balms, and other ointments, providing target relief for things like sore muscles, rashes, acne, or eczema.

Remember, the human body has endocannabinoid receptors all over the body, not just the stomach, lungs, and brain. When you apply CBD-infused cream, the CBD is absorbed through the skin to directly counteract inflammation and pain.

This means that you can treat yourself to a luxurious body care routine post-workout, when you are having period cramps, or whenever you need a little bit of extra love. CBD-infused creams work best with high concentrations of CBD and when applied generously. If you're using CBD cream for muscle pain relief, try looking for one that has other analgesics, such as menthol and camphor.

CBD Therapy Balm? More like therapy calm. This soothing lotion is one of our favorites for a reason. This broad spectrum CBD balm uses the full flower extraction method, preserving all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from their organically-grown, small-batch cannabis. This helps ease pain from sore muscles, PMS, arthritis, and athletic recovery.

How to Consume THC

You can consume THC in all of the same ways as CBD, with one notable difference. While applying THC topically will provide pain relief for sore muscles, it ultimately won't "go to your head." That is, you won't experience the feeling of "being high" if you slather some THC oil on yourself.

Still, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the relaxing effects of THC: through smoking or vaping, edibles, and tinctures.

Briefly, smoking or vaping is the fastest way to feel the effects of cannabis. When smoked or vaped, the effects last around 4-6 hours, depending on the particular person's metabolism. However, while using cannabis oil through edibles is the slowest-acting method, it produces the longest-lasting effects (around 6-8 hours). Finally, a happy medium is tinctures: you place 1-3 drops underneath your tongue, where it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream (versus being swallowed and digested, like edibles).

You don't need fancy equipment to enjoy all the benefits of cannabis; just an open mind and a willingness to start.

three kiva terrabite tins with the terrabites arranged around them

Sava offers a rich selection of THC edibles from this woman-owned brand. Indulge in Terra Bites chocolate-covered blueberries, sea salt caramels, dark chocolate covered almonds, or cookie bites. Each bite has 5mg of THC that promotes energy, creativity, and socializing. These medium-psychoactivity "anytime" bites can be enjoyed on their own or with a friend. The best part? They use all-natural ingredients, so you don't have to worry about consuming anything stuffed with preservatives.

Side Effects of CBD and THC

Although some of the side effects of THC are well-known (such as red eyes and dry mouth), other side effects should be considered if you are going to consume any product with THC. All of the following are temporary. Of course, everyone is different because each person's body chemistry is different. What works for one person may not for another, so remember to start low and go slow if you want to consume either THC or CBD.

CBD's side effects may be any of the following:

  • appetite changes
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • dizziness

Temporary potential THC side effects:

  • increased heart rate
  • coordination problems
  • dry mouth
  • red eyes
  • slower reaction times
  • memory loss
  • anxiety
Plus Cherry and Mango CBD gummy tins

The Legality of CBD vs THC

As of right now, hemp-derived CBD products are legal federally.

Conversely, cannabis-derived CBD is illegal federally but legal in some states (Don't worry, we'll talk about the difference here in a second). Thankfully, in California, both THC and CBD products are legal.

The Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis Derived CBD

Now, what's the difference between hemp-derived CBD and cannabis-derived, and why is it important?

Basically, hemp-derived products often rely on "big agriculture", meaning industrial hemp, which contains far less CBD than cannabis-derived. Because of the industrial nature of growing and processing hemp, there is also the risk of hemp CBD containing trace particles of heavy metals, mold, pesticides, and other nasty stuff you really don't want in your system. The CBD from the hemp market is also unregulated, meaning that inaccurate labeling is a big concern.

In fact, one study demonstrated that among CBD products, only 30% of products were accurately labeled; the rest either had higher or lower amounts of CBD in their product than were advertised on the packaging.

You might not think that this is a big deal with a non-intoxicating product like CBD. However, that same study found that THC was present in 20% (one-fifth!) of products. Not ideal for someone who only wants CBD.

Finally, we talked about the entourage effect earlier. Using CBD from cannabis instead of industrial hemp, if extracted correctly (without carbon dioxide or butane), allows for the careful preservation of all terpenes, amino acids, and other natural chemicals and compounds that enhance the properties of CBD.

Cannabis CBD products, what we carry at Sava, are also highly regulated and tested for accuracy of cannabinoid content, pesticides, molds, heavy metals, and more. They must meet a very high standard to be sold by a dispensary.

That's why at Sava, we pride ourselves in stocking our shelves with quality, small-batch products, so you know exactly what you're getting. Our products have been independently tested, so what you see on the label is what you get.

Close up of hand holding Papa and Barkley CBD topical
care by design relief tincture with a glass with blue liquid and a cannabis leaf in the background
Close up of Wyld CBD strawberry gummy packaging with gummies next to it

Final Thoughts

Remember, this article is only a guide. Talk to your doctor about any specific health needs you may have, but don't be shy asking about the difference between CBD and THC, how to use cannabis oil, health benefits of cannabis or even about THC and CBD side effects.