What is CBD Bioavailability and Why Does it Matter?

We all want to get the most bang for our buck when it comes to using CBD. One of the best ways to do this? Increase CBD bioavailability! So, what is CBD bioavailability, and how can you increase it? Read below to learn more!

What is CBD Bioavailability?

Ever wonder why many medications, vitamins, and supplements are best taken with a meal? This is usually because a meal increases the absorption of whatever is being taken. That’s another way of saying the meal increases the bioavailability of the medication, vitamin or supplement. This same concept applies to CBD products.

CBD bioavailability is the percentage of CBD that is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. This is important because the more you actually absorb into the bloodstream, the more potent the effect.

CBD bioavailability is mainly determined by the type of product you take and how you take it. However, there are a few other factors and ways you can increase CBD bioavailability and its therapeutic effects. Let’s dig in!

Increase CBD Bioavailability by Changing the Type of Product You Use

CBD products come in a variety of forms including balms, tinctures, capsules, vapor, edibles, and more. While each method provides benefits, some allow for more CBD to be directly absorbed than others.

CBD Bioavailability When Swallowed

CBD that you eat or swallow requires digestion. This means that most of the CBD gets broken down by your liver before circulating into your bloodstream. Because of this, CBD products like gummies, drinks, softgels, and capsules have a lower bioavailability than products like tinctures, which get absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream under your tongue.

The bioavailability of ingested CBD is roughly 13-19%. This means that if you swallow 20mg of pure CBD on an empty stomach, sometimes less than 3mg of it will actually make it into your blood and have an effect.

CBD Bioavailability When Taken Under the Tongue

Using a tincture, spray or strip to absorb CBD in your mouth is a popular method of taking CBD. It has slightly more bioavailability (~20-30%) than swallowed CBD (~13-19%). This is because it’s a quicker and more direct route to the bloodstream, and it also avoids the liver’s first pass effect, which lowers CBD bioavailability.

This is why we recommend holding the liquid under your tongue without talking for at least 20 seconds. You can swallow the rest, and that amount will be digested with a more similar bioavailability to a pill.

CBD Bioavailability Through the Skin

CBD topicals like balms, salves, and lotions that you rub into your skin have fairly low CBD bioavailability. However, they are typically used for site-specific discomfort so it’s unfair to compare to their bioavailability to that of other methods, which are typically used to manage mood, stress, sleep, and more.

The difference is because there are more CB2 and TRPV1 receptors in your skin and periphery system than CB1 receptors, which are mainly in your brain and central nervous system.

CBD Bioavailability of Other Methods

Vaporizing CBD can be one of the most bioavailable methods at 10-60% CBD bioavailability. CBD vapes work as a way to quickly administer CBD to help manage mood, stress, and sleep.

Knowing which temperature to use is important to get the desired effect. Overheating vape juices can convert safe and therapeutic compounds into harmful benzenes. For these reasons, and because of lack of thorough research of long-term effects, Anavii Market does not carry vaporized CBD products.

Though not as popular, a rectal suppository does have more bioavailability than CBD that you eat because it also avoids how the liver breaks it down. More research is needed for specifics on this. Some recommend using coconut oil with this method.

Intravenous administration (aka injecting) has 100% CBD bioavailability, being a direct path into the bloodstream, but this is obviously not a desirable nor recommended method.

Other Ways to Increase CBD Bioavailability

There are more ways that you can raise CBD bioavailability and enhance CBD’s therapeutic effects in addition to changing the method that you take it.

Increase CBD Bioavailability with a High Fat Snack

CBD is a fat soluble compound, meaning it dissolves in fats and fatty oils. This breaks CBD down into smaller molecules which are more easily absorbed by the body. Because of this property of CBD, one of the ways to increase bioavailability of CBD is to mix it with a high fat snack or meal.

Peanut butter, almond butter, avocado, nuts and hemp hearts are all good choices!

So is having CBD dissolved in coconut oil or hemp seed oil, like many CBD tinctures and edibles already do! This makes it easier for the body to absorb more CBD.

Most CBD edibles and capsules also use CBD dissolved in oil, though adding a high-fat snack or meal still helps!

Increase CBD Bioavailability through Emulsification

Some newer CBD products emulsify their CBD using nanotechnologyEmulsification breaks CBD down into even smaller molecules, or “micronizes” them. This can be done in a water or oil-based product.

The smaller and more dispersed the molecules are, the more bioavailable they are. This is because these micronized particles pass more easily through cell membranes and into the bloodstream than larger CBD particles.

There a few types of emulsification and some increase CBD bioavailability more than others. The main differences comes down to the size of the CBD molecules, but also whether the CBD is combined with fatty oils or terpenes.

Try Barlean’s Seriously Delicious Chocolate Mint Syrup to experience the bioavailability of emulsified CBD oil.

Increase CBD Bioavailability with Supplemental Terpenes

Terpenes are fatty oils that organically occur in the essential oils of almost all plants.

Terpenes provide many of the health benefits of essential oils, and they create the popular aromas, fragrances and flavors of many fruits and herbs. Terpenes make flowers smell nice and are used as natural flavorings in many things (drinks, gum, mint candies, etc).

Terpenes occur naturally in hemp and are extracted alongside CBD and other compounds to create full spectrum CBD products. All of these compounds work together and amplify each other’s benefits. This synergy is called the entourage effect and means these compounds work better together than they do alone, and bioavailability is part of this.

Terpenes raise CBD bioavailability in multiple ways, in addition to enhancing and modulating the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids.

Here are some key terpenes to have on your radar:



  • An antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer found most in grapefruit and lemons, but also lemongrass and all other citrus fruits.
  • Limonene may help regulate serotonin and dopamine levels, which helps balance mood and anxiety.


  • An antihypertensive, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and sedative terpene. It is found in mangos, hops and lemongrass. Considered the most sedative terpene, like CBD oil, myrcene is thought to lower your blood pressure.
  • On top of myrcene being a fat in which CBD products dissolves, it also lowers the resistance of the cell membranes CBD passes through to enter the bloodstream, which increases bioavailability. Myrcene is also a precursor of menthol, which means myrcene converts into menthol (and many other terpenes.)


  • Found most in peppermint, but also found in spearmint and eucalyptus. It shares similar painkilling effects with myrcene, but isn’t considered sedative.
  • Menthol, limonene, pinene and myrcene are all found to increase transdermal bioavailability for the same reasons. They do this by disintegrating cell membranes to make them more permeable, so it’s easier for CBD to pass through and get into your bloodstream.
  • This same effect also helps them kill bacteria. Many CBD balms and tinctures will use peppermint oil to increase CBD bioavailability for this reason.


  • An anti-anxiety terpene found most in lavender, but also found in cinnamon, bay leaf, and coriander. This terpene is a glutamate (NMDA) antagonist, which creates a dissociative and tranquilizing effect.
  • Linalool also enhances GABA signals without directly binding to and activating the GABA receptors to reduce excitability and anxiety.
  • Linalool and myrcene have a sedative effect with CBD and will help you sleep. This is also part of why cannabis indica is more sedative. Indica has more myrcene (> 0.5%) and linalool than cannabis sativa.

Beta-caryophyllene (BCP)

All of these terpenes increase CBD bioavailability by being lipids (a fancy name for fats), in which CBD dissolves. This is on top of their individual properties and the synergistic effect of them working together.

Terpenes make up a small percentage of a plant’s total composition so if taking in an isolated form, they should be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. Terpenes, like CBD, can be eaten, swallowed, absorbed in the mouth or inhaled so take alongside your CBD to further enhance!

Increase CBD Bioavailability with Other Supplemental Herbs

A good balanced diet never hurts bioavailability, but some specific supplements like black pepper directly increase CBD bioavailability in multiple ways.

Black pepper contains many notable compounds, including some of the terpenes mentioned above. These natural compounds have many beneficial properties that raise CBD bioavailability.

Like terpenes, some of these natural chemicals are also found in other popular plants, like chamomile and hot peppers.

Chamomile flowers contain the compound apigenin, which prevents cannabinoids naturally produced inside your body from being broken down. It extends their effects by binding to an enzyme that breaks them down. Interestingly enough, in non-clinical research trials, apigenin has been shown to both reverse drug resistant cancer cells and also kill cancer cells.

Other sources of apigenin include oreganocelery, hot peppers, carob, parsley and dark chocolate.

Piperine, another alkaloid unique to black pepper, increases the bioavailability of CBD by working against the liver’s metabolic effects and does the same for turmeric, increasing the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%. Many supplements will combine black pepper with turmeric because of this. Early research has shown that Piperine also may kill cancer by triggering apoptosis, and can also reverse drug resistance in cancer cells, like apigenin, but clinical trails are needed to prove efficacy.

Spicy Peppers contain capsaicin, which is structurally similar to cannabinoids, kill and reverse drug resistant cancer cells. This is also interesting because piperine and capsaicin both act on the TRPV1 receptors, which makes them peppery and spicy. CBD also acts on the TRPV1 receptors.

This sort of synergy occurs in other related herbs as well. Capsaicin significantly multiplies the anticancer effects of green tea catechins. The most abundant of these is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a polyphenol and anticancer green tea catechin, which is also a weak CB1 agonist.

Nature on nature on nature on nature! It all works together, whether it’s all of the compounds within the hemp plant or with naturally-occurring compounds from other plants.

Let’s Recap!

You can change your method of using CBD, mix CBD with fats, use emulsified CBD, combine CBD with additional terpenes and herbs like black pepper, lavender and chamomile all to get more out of it.

Whether you take CBD for sleep, mood, discomfort, or other reasons, there are many ways you can maximize CBD bioavailability and fine tune CBD’s effects to suit your needs!

The Difference Between Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Terps Cannabinoids

What are terpenes? 

You already know what terpenes are because you’ve experienced them all your life. Simply put, terpenes are what gives an orange its citrusy smell. They give pine trees their unique aroma. They’re even responsible for the relaxing effects in lavender. They are chemicals that determine how things smell.

But wait. You thought that cannabinoids were the compounds in the cannabis plant that caused healing, right? Yes, but it’s been discovered that terpenes can play a big role in that as well. In fact, cannabinoids and terpenes work together in something called the entourage effect. 

The entourage effect simply means that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, along with the hundreds of other compounds, along with the terpenes, are meant to work together. It’s the whole plant that does the best job, not just a single compound. While relief does come from using a CBD oil or a THC oil, whole plant therapy has been the most common use. Utilizing all the compounds and terpenes in the plant may just be the best way after all.

Terpenes can intensify or downplay the effects of the cannabinoids. Have you ever noticed how two similar strains can produce profoundly different effects? One may leave you with couch lock and the other may energize you? That’s another aspect of the entourage effect, which is driven by both cannabinoids and terpenes.

The terpene chart

Currently, there are at least 20,000 different terpenes in existence and the cannabis plant has more than 100 of these terpenes. Many terpenes that are produced by the cannabis plant are also found elsewhere in nature. However, there are a couple of terpenes that are in high concentrations in cannabis plants. Here are the ones to know.

Myrcene terpene

Myrcene, which can also be found in mangoes, is the primary terpene found in cannabis plants. In fact, some plants can have up to 65 percent of their terpene profile made up by myrcene alone. The presence of myrcene often determines whether a specific strain can be considered an indica or sativa. Plants with more than 0.5 percent myrcene are said to be indica. Myrcene is responsible for giving marijuana its distinctive aroma. Myrcene has relaxing properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Strains that are high in myrcene are Skunk XL, White Widow, and Special Kush. 

Limonene terpene

The second most abundant terpene found in cannabis, limonene can also be found in various citrus fruits and is responsible for the citrusy smell. However, it may not be present in all cannabis strains. Limonene has powerful anti fungal and antibacterial properties, and its great smell means that it is a common additive in household cleaning and cosmetic products. Limonene can also help to bust stress and enhance mood. Strains high in Limonene include Sour Diesel and OG Kush as well as Super Lemon Haze. 

Pinene terpene

This terpene’s name says it all, really. Pinene is found most abundantly in the pine tree and is what gives pine needles its distinctive smell. Found in two varieties, alpha, which is responsible for that wonderful pine aroma, and beta, which has a scent like rosemary, dill, or parsley. Pinene is a strong bronchodilator, but also has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that have been used for centuries in herbal medicines. Pinene can be found in strains like Strawberry Cough and Blue Dream.

Linalool terpene

If you’ve ever used lavender for its relaxant effects, then you’re familiar with the terpene linalool. Linalool is widely known for the stress-relieving, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant effects. Linalool can help to balance out the anxious side effect sometimes produced by THC and this makes it an ideal terpene for the treatment of anxiety. Linalool is present in strains like Special Kush, Amnesia Haze, and OG Shark. 

Caryophyllene terpene

This terpene, which has a spicy, woody, peppery scent, is also found in black pepper and cinnamon. Studies indicate that this one small terpene is capable of performing the big job of treating anxiety, depression, and inflammation. Caryophyllene is found in such strains as Super Silver Haze, Skywalker, and Rock Star. 

Humulene terpene

While many other strains help to increase appetite, which is beneficial to those who have conditions which nausea and loss of appetite are a factor, strains that contain humulene may actually help to decrease appetite. Found in hops, cloves, and basil, humulene has also shown anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in research. Strains which contain humulene include Liberty Haze, Girl Scout Cookies, and Sour Diesel. 

As said, cannabis contains some 100 known terpenes, all of which produce their own effects. Combined with the cannabinoids and other terpenes, the future of cannabis may just be in the cultivation of strains rich in certain terpenes and cannabinoids to create strains tailored to produce certain effects. 

Vaporizing and terpenes

Carbonization destroys many of the terpenes, just like it destroys many of the cannabinoids. Because of this, using a portable vaporizer with temperature control is probably the best way to get the most out of the terpenes found in cannabis. Like cannabinoids, terpenes have their own individual optimal temperature, and these temps can vary widely. Researching the various temperatures at which the terpenes you desire to be released is key in achieving the desired effect. 

Terpenes and cannabinoids are two compounds found in cannabis that when used together help produce a synergistic effect. Selecting strains based upon the terpenes’ effects can help you to achieve the result you desire. 

What Is Nano CBD?

In the simplest terms we can muster, the nano process takes CBD molecules and makes them smaller, which in turn allows the body more ease in absorption. In pharmacology, the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream is known as bioavailability. Because of its size, Nano CBD has extremely high bioavailability — almost 100% — which generally can only be achieved through intravenous (IV) administration. CUBED NANO utilizes state of the art Sonicators, High Shear Mixers, and Spray Dryers. Our custom built sonicator uses ultrasonic waves to agitate CBD molecules until they separate into individual nanoparticles. Our nano solutions contain CBD particles measuring as low as 20 nanometers in size, resulting in 98%+ bioavailability. According to a 2009 study of Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics, this is a significant increase from non-nano products that offer up to 56% bioavailability, depending on the administration method. Not metric-system-savvy? That’s ok. Here are some examples of just how small a nanometer is, courtesy of the National Nanotechnology Institute . A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick, and a human hair is approximately 80,000 – 100,000 nanometers wide. So, a nanometer (and even 40 nanometers) is pretty darn small!

Cubed Nano is a contract research & formulation company. We specialize in Nano Soluble CBD products. Our in house team has over 15 years in edible oils and medical delivery experience. We are a full-service contract research/manufacturing organization (CRO/CMO) specializing in the formulation, process development, and scale-up of CBD liquids and spray dried products in the pharmaceutical, dietary, nutrient, cosmetic, and food supplement industries. We can custom tailor raw ingredients or produce a full private label product line for you.

Why buy Mr Terps Terpenes?

If there is anywhere to buy terpenes online, it is from MrTerps, where their Terpenes are created from a proprietary 100% cannabis derived process. Terpenes are the organic compounds from cannabis (and occurring in other plants, too) that are responsible for aromatics, taste, and cerebral experience. The Terpenes are in oil form and are naturally occurring in vegetables, fruits, spices, and herbs. MrTerps uses 100% cannabis derived terpenes to recreate your favorite bud in oil form. There are more than 100 varieties of terpenes, and each terpene has a unique flavor and smell experience. From woody and earthy aromas, to zesty citrus fruit and diesel, there are varieties of terpenes to fit your preferences. The terpenes are exceptional pairings to be used with baking, smoking, vaping, cooking, drinking, and using cannabis products, with THC, CBD, or neither. Terpenes are currently being added to many items outside of the 420 cannabis marijuana community, but also in cooking, drinking, snacks, and candles. Home items such as candles, diffusers, aromatherapy, bath items, incense, vaping, CBD products, pet products, and more. Wherever there is an opportunity for smell or taste, Terps can be used to enhance the experience. More than simply adding to sensory indulgence, knowing that your terps would as well offer you a much deeper appreciation for those medical advantages you inhale with every puff. So far, medical marijuana study has focused on the composition as well as in the effects of the chemicals such as THC and CDB, yet terpene research slowly lights the trail. You could anticipate, learn and hear more regarding these medical & flavorful wonders someday. For the meantime, sit back and enjoy your favorite terpene. Terpenes are available from MrTerps, and are the perfect pairing to be used with the award winning liquidizer and emulsifying agent for all 420 cannabis needs, Hemp CuTT and Hemp CuTT Ex, a precise, clean, and all natural thickening agent made of MrTerps Terpenes. Hemp CuTT and Hemp CuTT Ex contains No PEG, PG, VG, MCT. It is colorless, flavorless, and odorless. MrTerps uses 100% natural ingredients that are safe to inhale and digest.


THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), the three-letter acronyms currently dominating the cannabis world.

Today, we are talking about the most important subject in cannabis. These cannabinoids define so many aspects of cannabis. 

The​y are what differentiate he​​​​mp, marijuana and CBD oils from one another. They determine whether your cannabis product is legal or not, whether you’ll experience a high, or what therapeutic effects you can expect.

What is THC and CBD?

THC and CBD are part of a group of chemical compounds called phytocannabinoids found in all cannabis plants. 

​Phytocannabinoids are one of three main compounds in cannabis that produce an observable therapeutic effect on the body. The other two compounds are terpenes and flavonoids.

We’ve identified over 100 different phytocannabinoids in cannabis. But THC and CBD stand out because cannabis contains significantly more of them. Naturally, they were discovered and research before the other phytocannabinoids—which we still don’t know much about. 

CBD and THC both produce fascinating effects in your body.  As such, the THC/CBD ratio has come to arbitrarily define cannabis plants into categories like recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, hemp, and industrial hemp.

The Chemical Structure of THC and CBD


Both THC and CBD start as the same phytocannabinoid CBG (cannabigerol) which is sparking great interest itself. On a molecular level, THC and CBD are very similar with both of them containing 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms each.

What separates them? There is a difference between one of their oxygen atoms.

THC has a cyclic ring with a single unbounded oxygen atom, where CBD has a hydroxyl group with a bonded oxygen atom — and this creates some significant changes in the body as you’re about to see.

How Cannabinoids Work

To better understand the difference between THC vs CBD, let’s take a look into how phytocannabinoids affect us.

​Phytocannabinoids interact with a select group of g protein-coupled receptors throughout your body.  These include CB1, CB2, 5-HT1A, TRPV1, PPAR and GRP55 receptors. Think of a receptor as a dimmable switch, and when it’s turned on or off, it tells the cell it’s located on to carry out a specific function and to what degree.

Phytocannabinoids interact with receptors that are involved in regulating and balancing internal functions that help with homeostasis. Some of these functions include regulating our immune response, increasing and decreasing our appetite, and changing our perception of pain.

So why do phytocannabinoid interact with certain receptors?

Well, while structurally different, phytocannabinoids share a fascinating relationship with special neurotransmitters our brain creates called endocannabinoids.

Phyto” = plant, “endo” = endogenous or something that occurs within an organism, tissue or cell. We produce two types of endocannabinoids—anandamide and 2-AG—which have the job of interacting with your CB1 and CB2 receptors.

All together they create a system called the ECS (endocannabinoid system or endogenous cannabinoid system).

Phytocannabinoids affect endocannabinoids and their receptors in two big ways:

  • First, some can temporarily prevent the body from recycling endocannabinoids, which lets their numbers build up and allows them to activate more receptors.  
  • Second, phytocannabinoids can undertake the same roles endocannabinoids carry out in the body and activate the same receptors.  

Now, endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids can interact with non-cannabinoid receptorsas we saw, but so can other compounds like capsaicin found in chili peppers and the neurotransmitter serotonin.

​Think of endocannabinoids and the receptors they trigger as the regulatory system that regulates and protects other more important regulatory systems like the nervous or immune system. Now that we know how phytocannabinoids work let’s look at how THC and CBD can affect our receptors in different ways.


How THC Affects the Body

THC interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, but it’s the former receptors that give THC its notoriety. The endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG are responsible for turning CB1 receptors on by binding to them, but THC can undertake that role and bind to them as well. 

However, THC does this a little too well and binds to CB1 receptors aggressively.  By over-activating CB1 receptors, THC makes the normal physiological functions they trigger feel more pronounced, andthis gives us the sensation of feeling high and euphoric.

There are only a few other phytocannabinoids that can activate CB1 receptors and trigger a high. However, they occur at much lower levels, and research is still out on their effects. CB1 receptors are predominantly found in the brain and trigger functions that can elevate our mood, affect motor control, lower our perception to pain, and inhibit gastrointestinal activity.

Because THC triggers these receptors to a higher degree than endocannabinoids can, THC has a stronger therapeutic effect on the body than a phytocannabinoid that doesn’t — like CBD.

​At the same time, this is what gives THC its classic side effects like paranoia and dry mouth. All things considered, THC ultimately doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors that well, unlike synthetic cannabinoids like K2/Spice which bind way more intensely, which is why people can overdose from synthetic marijuana, but can’t with naturally produced THC.  

The Pros and Cons of THC

The biggest pro of THC is its biggest negative, and that’s the high and side effects it causes. While it can provide a greater degree of help for many medical conditions, there is concern about its effects on the brain, especially, adolescent brains


  • Therapeutically stronger and particularly great for pain, low appetite, and insomnia
  • Small amounts can greatly improve CBD-based products without causing a high
  • Large amounts cause a high that many enjoy  


  • Psychoactive / Intoxicating
  • Laws are more restrictive/illegal in most places
  • Stronger side effects like anxiety, paranoia, and hunger
  • May interfere with brain development
  • THC metabolites are what drug tests look for to confirm a positive for marijuana  

How CBD Affects the Body

Unlike THC, CBD does not activate CB1 receptors in any significant way so it can’t cause a high. In fact, it appears CBD can’t even directly activate the other cannabinoid receptor, CB2. However, CBD is the phytocannabinoid that builds up natural endocannabinoid levels by temporarily binding and inhibiting FAAH enzymes, which stops them from recycling anandamide.

This helps trigger the same receptors that THC does, so we get similar therapeutic effects from CBD. However, they don’t feel as pronounced. Now, strangely enough, CBD can bind to the same receptors endocannabinoids can that are found outside the ECS like serotonin 5-HT1A receptors and TRPV1 receptors — THC cannot do this. Both of these receptors modulate anxiety, pain perception, appetite and sleep.

Research indicates that CBD always activates non-cannabinoid receptors to the same or less degree as endocannabinoids, so CBD effects remain intangible even if your mood improves after taking it.

For example, let’s say we’re feeling abnormally anxious. By activating these receptors CBD can lower our anxiety, making it feel much more manageable. If we aren’t feeling anxious, and the receptors are activated, we may feel happier and stronger, similar to how exercising can elevate the mood.

Exercising directly increases anandamide levels just like CBD, and we now believe they are responsible for the phenomenon aptly called runner’s high, and we even call anandamide the bliss molecule because of this.

Can CBD Improve Your Health?

Since CBD is only replicating natural physiological functions in the body among a similar pharmacology path as endocannabinoids, it has varying degrees of effectiveness where it can really help one person, but do little to nothing for another.   

Research is showing that ​the degree CBD can help you, likely depends on if you have an endocannabinoid deficiency which it may be very beneficial for.

Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, Dr. Ethan Russo, has spent decades researching phytocannabinoids’ ability to help with an endocannabinoid deficiency and how it can have a big impact on our health.  In his most 2016 study, Dr. Russo explains how an endocannabinoid system can lead to poor health across the body.

If endocannabinoid function were decreased, it follows that a lowered pain threshold would be operative, along with derangements of digestion, mood, and sleep among the almost universal physiological systems subserved by the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The Prod and Cons of CBD

The biggest advantages to CBD is that it doesn’t make you high, and it appears safe for children where THC is questionable. But if you’re an adult and don’t mind the high from THC, you may find CBD doesn’t help anywhere near to the same extent depending on your medical condition.


  • Non-intoxicating; won’t create a high
  • More natural physiological effects
  • Can help correct endocannabinoid deficiency
  • Better than THC for inflammation, anxiety and controlling appetite  
  • Legal in more places
  • Milder side effects compared to THC
  • Not tested for on drug tests


  • In most cases, it’s not as therapeutically potent as THC
  • Can still cause side effects such as liver enzyme inhibition

How THC and CBD Affect Each Other

Most phytocannabinoids have unique effects allowing them to interact with each other just as much as they do with the endocannabinoids and the receptors in our body. We call this the entourage effect, and as we are coming to find out, the way phytocannabinoids interact with each other gives us much better results than isolating them.

When THC is isolated from all the other phytocannabinoids, a lot of people will experience paranoia, feel too high and the high generally feels uneven. When CBD is isolated, people find the effects can be one-dimensional requiring them take a higher dose than they would compared to CBD that includes the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes.  

When THC and CBD are taken together, they actually duke it out a bit in the body and change how the other affects us. When taken alone, THC can bind to CB1 receptors too aggressively, creating unpleasant sensations such as paranoia, dry mouth and insatiable appetite.

CBD can directly counteract that by binding to a different location on CB1 receptors than THC, changing the receptors’ shape weakening THC’s ability to attach. The more CBD there is to THC, the less THC can activate CB1 receptors reducing its ability to cause people to feel “high”.

This means you can have THC in a CBD product without it causing a high. In fact, many experts now say you want THC in CBD oil because low amounts can still reduce pain, muscle convulsions, etc. in ways other cannabinoids can’t. One of those experts is neuroscientist Nick Jikomes, who explored the topic in “We Asked a Scientist: What’s the Right Dose of CBD?”

While THC and CBD have different pharmacological properties, they can both have similar physiological effects, probably acting through different mechanisms. For instance, both compounds can have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; they may act through different mechanisms, so having THC and CBD could potentially enhance an outcome surrounding pain relief.

THC vs CBD: Legality

When it comes to the legality of a cannabis product, the amount of THC it has is becoming the main distinction into whether the product is governed by more restrictive marijuana laws or less restrictive industrial hemp laws.

For example, as of 2018, The United States defines “marihuana” as any cannabis plant with over 0.3% THC. When it has 0.3% or less, it’s defined as industrial hemp meaning it legal federally and any state can allow the sale of CBD if they choose.

While some states have legalized marijuana, it’s still considered illegal federally. Some places still consider CBD marijuana, but since CBD can’t get you high, laws are changing pretty fast make it legal.

How THC and CBD Define the Different Forms of Cannabis

Above, we mentioned that the biggest distinction between the different categories of cannabis is the amount of THC to CBD they contain. The terminology is fairly wonky, and cannabis plants have been so interbred that it can be challenging to determine the correct taxonomy of a cannabis str​​ain.

Plus, research is showing that terpenes and other cannabinoids are playing a bigger role in the different effects we feel from strains than we initially thought, but let’s save that for another day.

Fortunately, correctly classifying all of the different forms of cannabis is making a comeback due to pressure from consumers and the law. This makes choosing the right cannabis strain for you much easier than in the past.  


Wax, shatter, dabs, honey, butane hash oil and THC crystals all fall under this category and can easily contain four times more THC than our next highest form down below.

THC concentrations and isolates are only recommended for experienced users looking for the biggest highs because even they will often face the consequences of high THC.Depending on the extraction process, high THC concentrates may also be high in other phytocannabinoids and terpenes.


Stains and products ranging between 15-30% THC and 0-3% CBD are considered your classic marijuana and are most often used recreationally. However, depending on your medical condition and feelings about getting high, they can be fantastic medical strains.


When a cannabis strain has its THC and CBD ratio at or near the same amount, most people will consider it a strain better suited for medical use. There is enough CBD to greatly counteract much of THC’s ability to produce adverse side effects but still experience a notable high and some euphoria.


These strains can be labeled as both marijuana or hemp, depending on how much THC is present. When a cannabis plant is unable to cause the euphoric high due to low THC amounts, most people will consider it a hemp strain, and this usually happens when it contains around 1-5% THC, but most places still legally consider it marijuana.


In the U.S., when a cannabis plant contains only traces of THC—0.3% or less—cannabis plants are legally defined as industrial hemp and not marijuana. These are the plants where most legalCBD oil and other CBD products come from as they don’t have enough THC to get high no matter how much you take.


These products contain only cannabidiol (CBD) at concentrations of 90% and above with no other cannabinoid or terpene in sight. This is the form that was approved by the FDA in 2018, but it’s not the most common form of CBD oil by a good margin. On its own CBD effects are one-dimensional and quirky where it might help with anxiety but do nothing for pain and vice-versa. As well, dosing works on a bell curve, meaning you can overshoot your dosage for diminishing results.

Conclusion: Which is Better THC or CBD?

In truth, one isn’t better than the other, and it comes down to what you prefer. For the most part, despite taking different pharmacology routes in the body, THC and CBD have fairly similar physiological effects. 

THC is much stronger therapeutically, but it makes you high and has more side effects.  

All-and-all, most people will want to avoid just taking a high THC concentrate or CBD isolate, and instead should look for a cannabis product that includes both.

If you’re not sure which THC/CBD ratio is right for you, we have a great experiment you can try.  Grab both a full spectrum CBD product (meaning it has all phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and traces of THC), as well as, a high THC concentrate/isolate. 

You can use the THC concentrate or isolate to change the ratio of THC to CBD you take at a given time. It takes a little math, but not much, and we have a nice little article to help you out. 

​This is the easiest way to find your preferred ratio without buying several different products, and it gives you so much more control over your desired effects.  If you already know you like high THC to CBD ratios, this experiment can still benefit you. 

Taking CBD an hour before you take THC may help lock THC within the blood-brain barrier causing it to activate CB1 receptors for longer periods of time so you’ll experience a longer high. We know a lot of our readers will love that, and so do we, so go experiment, and leave us a comment on what you’re preferred THC/CBD ratio is and why.