A CBD tea has cannabis leaves in it.

Does CBD Counteract THC?


There are two primary cannabinoids in cannabis that are the most researched: CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The differences between CBD and THC are why hemp has become legal after a century-long ban. Now, many people are wondering if CBD, the non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, has the ability to temper the more potent effects of its mind-altering counterpart, THC. How does CBD affect THC? Let’s take a closer look at these distinctly unique cannabinoids!

How Do CBD and THC Work?

There are over 100 known cannabinoids in cannabis plants, with CBD and THC being the most well-known. To understand these two cannabinoids, as well as others, we must first explore the endocannabinoid system. 

The endocannabinoid system is a complex cell-signaling system that plays a crucial role in maintaining balance within the body. It influences mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, and more. 

Our bodies produce endocannabinoids, which are compounds that resemble cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, such as THC and CBD. The two primary endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

Anandamide and 2-AG bind to specific receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are found throughout the body. CB1 receptors are abundant in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more commonly present in the peripheral organs, digestive system, and immune system. 

Both THC and CBD interact with these receptors uniquely, which makes their effects much different. But does CBD counteract THC? Let’s take a closer look at THC effects so that you can get a better understanding!

What Are the Effects of THC?

Now that you got that science lesson out of the way, let’s put your new knowledge to good use. THC interacts with and influences the endocannabinoid system that we just discussed.

THC is the main psychoactive naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants. It is responsible for the characteristic "high" that users experience when consuming marijuana.

The effects of THC can vary greatly depending on the individual and the specific strain of cannabis, but some common sensations include euphoria, relaxation, heightened sensory perception, and increased appetite. However, it's important to note that THC can also produce less desirable effects in some individuals, such as temporary paranoia and impaired decision-making. 

When THC enters the bloodstream, either through inhalation or ingestion, it binds primarily to CB1 receptors in the brain. This interaction mimics the effects of anandamide, an endocannabinoid affectionately called the "bliss molecule." 

Like anandamide, THC supports the release of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. This surge of dopamine contributes to the euphoric sensation commonly experienced during a marijuana high.

As pleasant as this may sound, THC's affinity for CB1 receptors could potentially lead to some of its less desirable effects. For instance, excessive activation of CB1 receptors in areas of the brain responsible for memory and cognition can slow thought processes and fact recall.

Additionally, overstimulation of CB1 receptors in the amygdala, a region involved in processing emotions and fear, may contribute to feelings of temporary stress in some individuals.

So, does CBD cancel out THC? Let’s explore how CBD impacts the body. 

What Are the Effects of CBD?

CBD is another prominent compound found in cannabis plants. Whereas marijuana is prevalent in marijuana, CBD is present in low amounts. Instead, CBD is abundant in hemp, where THC levels are 0.3% or less. 

Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating effects. Instead, it’s gained notoriety for supporting balance in the body. As a result, CBD is popular in skincare, daily wellness regimens, and mental wellness support. 

Much like THC, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, albeit in a different manner. While THC binds directly to CB1 receptors, CBD exhibits a more complex and nuanced relationship with the endocannabinoid system. 

Instead of binding directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors, CBD acts as an antagonist. When CBD interacts with or binds to these receptors, it has the ability to block or dampen the effects of other cannabinoids. This unique interaction is thought to be one reason why CBD may counteract some of the negative side effects associated with THC.

How Does CBD Affect THC?

CBD's influence on THC mainly comes from its interactions with the body's endocannabinoid system. Both CBD and THC affect the endocannabinoid system, but they work differently, causing unique effects. CBD can change how THC works in various ways, potentially leading to a more balanced and manageable experience for users.

Enhances Anandamide Levels

Remember how THC mimics the effects of anandamide? CBD can also boost levels of this endocannabinoid naturally. 

Research indicates that CBD can prevent the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) from breaking down anandamide. Higher levels of anandamide in the body support healthy activation of CB1 receptors.

As a result, a person may feel relaxed. Increased activation could be useful in helping with racing thoughts associated with too much THC consumption. 

Supports Serotonin Production

CBD influences more than CB receptors. It also interacts with the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. This may support the healthy production of seratonin, often referred to as the "feel-good" or "happiness" hormone. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that plays a role in mood, appetite, sleep, and more. 

In addition to its role as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, serotonin is also found in other areas of the body, such as the gastrointestinal tract, where it aids digestion. This is convenient as CBD also influences CB2 receptors that are present in the digestive system!

Does CBD Counteract the Effects of THC?

While CBD can alter the way THC impacts the body, does CBD cancel out THC? Not exactly.

CBD is not likely to entirely stop the high caused by THC, but it can potentially reduce the intensity of THC-related stress. 

With that said, individual responses to CBD and THC can vary, and the extent to which CBD counteracts THC's psychoactive effects depends on factors such as serving size, strain, and personal biochemistry. While CBD may help balance the effects of THC and make the experience more manageable for some users, it is not guaranteed to completely stop the high.

How Does CBD Affect THC Positively? 

While CBD and THC are opposites, and CBD may even slightly counteract some of THC’s effects, these two cannabinoids actually work quite well together!

Using CBD and THC together can offer a range of potential benefits, as the combination of these two cannabinoids can lead to what is known as the "entourage effect." This phenomenon refers to the synergistic interaction between a spectrum of cannabis compounds. 

CBD and THC work in tandem to support a healthy mood. They both promote a relaxed mind and body. While THC can elicit these feelings through a psychoactive experience, CBD helps turn that dial down so that you feel calm. 

Cannabinoids are beneficial for helping people fall asleep. However, too much THC can interrupt sleep cycles and make for less restful sleep. CBD helps balance out THC for a 1-2 sleep support combo. THC is known for its calming effects, while CBD influences relaxation. 

CBD and THC Products for Daily Wellness

The entourage effect is promoted by cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and other phytonutrients that are present in cannabis. Be sure to purchase full spectrum CBD and THC products to ensure you maximize the entourage effect. 

Broad spectrum products are effective, but they don’t contain THC. They still have other beneficial cannabinoids and compounds but don’t provide the well-rounded support of full spectrum products. 

Does CBD Counteract THC Effects?

CBD doesn’t counteract THC completely. Instead of counteracting THC, it alters how THC impacts the body.

The goal of CBD is to promote balance in the body, and THC can disrupt that. However, using CBD and THC together can help each cannabinoid support the body and mind better. 

It’s always best to start with low servings of THC and CBD, and work your way up. It’s especially true if you’re using THC products, as THC is intoxicating and could impair judgment and motor skills. While CBD could be beneficial in reducing these effects, it is not a reliable way to reduce your high.

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