The Strange Apothecary

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The CBD vs THC is a hot topic in the industry & yes believe it or not there is teams on both sides. But then there is also plenty of people sitting in the middle, loving each cannabinoid as much as the other. We have a chat about this in our podcast if you would like to hear more on that topic. But this blog is about giving you the scienctific facts of the differences between these two cannabinoids.

I heard a great description of CBD & THC from ‘A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis’ – by Nikki Furrer, which was, “THC: The Queen Bee, CBD: The Valedictorian.” I loved this descripton & here’s her explanation of the title. “THC is the queen bee of her high school because she decides how long the party lasts & which days we wear pink.” Nikki Furrer also describes THC as “The High Creator”. “CBD has become the valedictorian of her class – the brightest star with the most potential.”

THC & CBD have many of the same benefits. Unfortunately this is something we cannot discuss as the law holds us back from this. But we can cover the basic differences between CBD & THC. The simple difference between the two is that THC will make you high & CBD will not. But when they work together they bring the best out in eachother.

Chemical Structures.

CBD & THC have almost identicial chemical structures, the same molecular formula C21H30O2 & both of their masses clock in at 314g/mol but there is one extremely important structual difference. THC contains a cyclic ring, whilst CBD contains a hydroxyl group. This difference in biochemistry actually controls whether or not you feel high.

In order in understand why CBD & THC have this difference you need to know about your CB1 receptor. If you have not consumed any cannabis products then your body’s CB1 receptor is effected by a neurotransmitter called Anandaminde which controls the generation of pleasure, motivation & feeding behaviours. Anandaminde is released naturally by the body after excerise & can also be known as a runners high. THC’s structure is so similar to Anandaminde that it fits in perfectly to the CB1 receptor, therefore causing you to feel high. On the other hand, because of the hydroxyl group in CBD is different in shape & does not fit into the CBD receptor like Anandaminde to give that high feeling like THC.

But CBD does bind to other receptors in your endocannbinoid system, effecting you in other ways. Infact it can bind to the CB1 receptor but in a different way which can turn this receptor off. This is known as ‘Allosteric Inhibition’, this actually means that the CBD makes the THC unable to bind as well to the CB1 receptor, therefore decreasing how ‘high’ you feel, something we will talk about a little bit later in this post.

As with many of the cannabinoids, THC and CBD have low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents, particularly lipids and alcohols. Both THC and CBD are present in cannabis in a mixture of acidic forms, which are readily de-carboxylated and chemically altered upon heating, important when you consider that smoking cannabis is the most common form of consumption. THC is also well known for its ability to bind to glass and plastic. Therefore, THC preparations are typically stored in basic or organic solvents in amber silicate glassware to avoid loss.


THC is short for delta-tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the psycho active compound inside the cannabis plant that makes you feel the ‘high’. Although cannabis has been used for it’s medicinal qualities for centuries, it wasn’t until 1964 that a team of researchers in Israel, led by Professor Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University of Jerusalrm, isolated & described THC’s molecular properties in a lab. Mechoulam is known as the father of cannabis medicine, as his team has made many advances in the field – including key contributions to the discovery of the system in the human body that cannabis works with deliver it’s therapeutic benefits, which we’ll cover in a minute.

Professor Mechoulam gave a conference at the annual CannaMed in Los Angeles. Speaking about his work with cannabis compounds in his laboratory. He said the cannabis plant has been shown to be helpful for so many conditions. He emphasized that the compounds in the cannabis plant are not toxic to humans. It’s only because of the current legal situation that we are not able to do research that would potentially help millions of people who are suffering.


Right now, you can’t go anywhere without seeing CBD. It is everywhere. CBD is short for cannabidiol, this compound is the health & wellness world’s current love. First being isolated from the cannabis plant ins 1940. It is THC’s non-psychoactive sister molecule, & it’s another one of the most prevalent compounds inside the cannabis plant. Because the CBD market is so new & it hard to navigate products & know what to look for. Read our ‘What to look for in a product’ to know what to look out for.

The powers of CBD are currently being embraced by the masses, with more research to come in the future as the legality of the status continues to shift & more regulations are being put in place. One big thing coming up being the Novel Food Legislation. But with these shifts in the industry we move closer & closer towards legalisation or decriminalisation.

There is 3 most common types of cannabis plant.
  1. High levels of THC.
  2. Equal levels of CBD & THC.
  3. High levels of CBD.

Each different type of cannabis plant has different potential benefits, depending on the condition, dose & different strains of cannabis have varying amount of each compoud. Some varities of cannabis are bred to have higher levels of THC. Some are bred to haev a higher level of CBD, but this is mainly because of the CBD boom. The levels of THC & CBD present in each variety will have different effect on your body & mind.

CBD’s effects on THC.

Higher levels of THC can be therapeutic for some people. But the more THC means the greater chnace of feeling psychoactive effects. This feeling is unwanted by some people, but seeked & enjoyed by others. When CBD is present in hte cannabis strain in high enough amounts, it can safeguard you from the psychoactive effects of THC. This is because CBD swoops in & partially blocks the THC from binding effectively to receptors in the brain. The higher the CBD:THC ratio in the cannabis product, the less likely you are to feel a high.

CBD is currently paving the way for other cannabinoids. The reason for this is beacause the compounds within the cannabis plant have been shown to work better together, as a whole-plant extract. THC & CBD may be there stars of the show but there are hundreds of active compounds in the cannabis plant & all of them work together to make it healing powerhouse that it is, known as the entourage effect.

Dr. Ethan Russo, a prominent cannabis researcher & board-certified neurologist, notes in his 2019 paper “The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis. When it comes to the pharmaceutical CBD drug Epidiolex (a 97% pure CBD isolate, with THC removed, used to treat seizures), a much higher dose is necessary to achieve positive results than when using CBD rich full spectrum cannabis extract with all the other compounds of the plant intact.

Microdosing THC.

Microdosing THC is exactly what it sounds like. People use it for it’s subtle effects on mood & focus. Microdosing does not make you feel high as you are not consuing enough THC for these effects. Dr. Bonni Goldstein says, “A microdose of THC is actually just a dose” as some people only need the tiniest doses of THC to find the relief they’re looking for.

To get acquainted with how THC makes you feel, you must use it. Everyone is different with how they react to THC, so you may enjoy the effects of a few more or less milligrams than someone else. Because of the effects CBD & THC have on eachother, this enables us to use cannabis strategically to enhance your life without feeling any uncomfortable side effects.

If mircodosing THC is something you are interesting in trying, a tincture is the best way to manage your dose. Start with just one drop & wait half an hour to experience the effects before taking another drop. It is extremely important to leave the wait time, you do not want to overdo it.

Consuming to much THC.

THC is known for causing anxiety & paranoia if too much is consumed. If CBD has a high enough presents in your strain , then it can safeguard you from these unwanted effects of THC. Choosing a higher-CBD product can mitigate the high. Cannabis strains that are high in the terpenes limonene, pinene & caryophyllene can also bring down the mental fogginess from THC. This explains why lemon, black pepper & pine can be helpful in reducing the high.

Dr. Ethan Russo recommends having terpene-rich foods to help bring down THC’s effects. Here’s some of the foods he recommends:

  • Pesto – one that contains pinenuts for the pinene.
  • Lemonade – with extra lemon zest from the rinds for the limonene.

Dr. Russo recommends having these foods prepared & on hand before you consume your cannabis, because once you’ve had too much THC you may have difficulty preparing them. At the very least, make sure you have some lemons, black pepper & pine nuts available.

Here are some other tips for if you have consumed too much THC:
  • Sleep in off.
  • Drink water.
  • Take a shower.
  • Chew on black peppercorns – rich in caryophyllene.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Watch a favourite movie.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Listen to your favourite album.
  • Breath.
  • Relax.
  • Remind yourself the effects will lift soon.
Please Note
  • Keep CBD out of reach of children.
  • The MHRA have not evaluated any of these statements.
  • We do not intend to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
  • Do not use this information to replace the advice of your doctor.
  • If any products cause any reaction, please seek medical advice.
  • The Conscious Cannabis Club approve all recommended products.

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