Since the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis plants have gradually entered the field of vision. It is well known that cannabinoids are unique active ingredients in cannabis plants and they are compounds which are mainly responsible for therapeutic effects. The most famous and effective cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). In addition, with the unremitting efforts of scientists, more than 70 cannabinoids have been identified so far, such as CBG and THCV. Studies have shown that these compounds may help treat a variety of diseases and health problems in the body. However, today we mainly study the effects of the two most famous compounds in cannabis plants–CBD and THC, on pain relief. Let’s look at the study to see which compound is more suitable for treating pain, or a combination of both compounds can result in a better effect?

The difference between CBD and THC

Both CBD and THC contribute to the positive impact associated with cannabis. However, experts only link THC to strong mental activity effects. This is one of the primary difference between the two components. In simple terms, it means that after taking THC, the user often has an excitement, known as getting “high”. But CBD will not cause this effect.

The effect of CBD on the treatment of pain

Studies have shown that CBD has positive anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. CBD anti-cancer properties have gradually gained recognition. In addition, CBD has powerful antioxidant properties and helps to support the immune system. Although CBD itself is not psychoactive, it still can help alleviate anxiety and depression. The CBD has broad health benefits, the most important of which is its effect on chronic pain. If you are seeking relief from chronic pain, one of the safest and most effective options may be the CBD.

Why use CBD to relieve pain?

With over 100 million people in the United States have suffered from chronic pain, patients need a safe and effective treatment, while the presently available pharmaceutical options do not exist.

There are two main types of therapeutic drugs currently available for pain relief: opioid prescription drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs have significant safety issues with certain side effects.

Opioids are one of the most addictive drugs. Abuse or prolonged overuse can have fatal consequences. In the United States alone, 60 people die every day due to opioids overdose. The effect of another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is also not ideal. Although NSAID can effectively alleviate the pain caused by inflammation, long-term use is accompanied by many dangerous side effects.

CBD is becoming a popular alternative to over-the-counter painkillers and prescription painkillers because it is effective in treating people with chronic pain. This includes pain that may be caused by diseases such as migraine or arthritis, or pain caused by injuries. In terms of pain management, CBD has been proven to be safe and effective, and there is no risk of tolerance or overdose.

So is CBD the best choice for treating pain? It doesn’t seem to be. THC seems to have a certain effect on pain.

Can THC also treat pain?

When it comes to THC, people’s impression of it may be that THC is the main spiritual component of marijuana. THC is the component responsible for an altered state of mood and perception. But in fact, THC has a certain effect in the treatment of pain, mainly in the following aspects:

  1. THC has strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, so it has achieved some success in the treatment of pain caused by inflammation, such as arthritis and cancer.
  2. THC can relax the nervous system, which helps to treat pain associated with spasm, such as multiple sclerosis.

Although some studies have shown that THC has a positive effect on pain relief, its side effects in treatment are more pronounced. In contrast to the two effects, THC is not the best choice for treating pain.

Since the efficacy of the THC strain alone is not ideal, is the combination of CBD and THC the best choice for pain management?

The interaction between CBD and THC

In fact, whether it is a single CBD or a separate THC, they are all cannabis isolates. And the combination of the two is what usually called “full-spectrum extracts.” In addition to CBD and THC, the full-spectrum extract includes dozens of other plant compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), myrcene, β- Caryophyllene and so on.

Terpenes are aromatic molecules found in the resin glands of plants, while other cannabinoid compounds can also exert some analgesic effects. Studies have shown that full-spectrum cannabis is superior to a single compound in pain management. So it is best to use the whole cannabis plant for pain patients. This is because the complex mix of CBD, THC, terpene, flavonoids, and CBG interact synergistically to create an “entourage effect” that enhances each other’s therapeutic effects. At the same time, these compounds can affect our neurochemistry. They can together effect on better improvements in pain relief.

What is the “entourage effect”


Here, we need to understand the concept of “the entourage effect”. It is a new term used to describe the synergy of all compounds found in cannabis plants. This entourage effect often provides more benefits together than the individual compounds would provide alone.

How CBD and THC work together on pain management

When looking to alleviate pain, you don’t have to make a choice between THC and CBD. In fact, it may be wise to combine the two.

CBD and THC are the two most effective compounds found in cannabis plants. They are found to work together in a different way than when they are separated. The simultaneous use of these two compounds helps mitigate side effects and enhance the overall anti-pain effect. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) work synergistically, and the combination of the two works best.

CBD can mitigate the side effects of THC

Studies have confirmed that CBD can help to counteract some of the sedative, “high” feeling, anxiety, and rapid heartbeat that is associated with THC consumption. We mentioned above that THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants and can get you high. But many medical cannabis patients have found that consuming regular high-THC cannabis can relieve pain. CBD is not considered psychoactive in the same manner as THC, though it still has an effect on the brain. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a noticeable “high.” Conversely, this cannabinoid has calming and uplifting properties that can reduce the psychological effects of THC and better fight against pain and inflammation.

CBD can extend the half-life of THC

In addition, the researchers found that CBD can extend the half-life of THC, which may help prolong the benefits of pain relief. Moreover, this effect allows people to use higher doses of THC in clinical trials to treat pain. These pains are often caused by multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathic pain, refractory cancer pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. Because medical workers find that the combination of the two can be used to treat these types of pain, it can play a greater role.

Related research and experiment

A 2010 study found that patients with refractory cancer-related pain tolerated medicines that combined THC and CBD significantly better than pure THC extract.

A 2012 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD inhibited THC-induced paranoid symptoms and hippocampal-dependent memory impairment.

Some patients are fortunate enough to have access to use hemp-based drugs to treat pain. A product called Sativex can be used to treat cancer-related pain. It is a multiple sclerosis drug that contains a one to one ratio of THC to CBD, plus some beneficial terpenes.

A test conducted at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that in the course of brain and breast cancer cell treatment, binding to CBD and THC produced a more potent anti-tumor effect than either compound alone.


It is not uncommon to hear that both THC and CBD strains successfully ease away pain. But in its current form, people need a more effective way to treat pain. Studies have confirmed that the best pain management comes from strains that contain a large number of two compounds. Because the interaction between THC and CBD constitutes the so-called entourage effect. It shows the beneficial effects of all the chemicals in the cannabis plant. This may be proof that full-spectrum cannabis plants are considered more helpful to patients than isolated extracts.

Legitimate CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC

We all know that the 2018 Farm Bill stipulates that legal CBD products should contain less than 0.3% THC. So can this proportion of CBD and THC meet the needs of patients with pain?

In fact, there is no specific ratio for the mixture of THC and CBD. Some patients may need a one to one ratio of THC to CBD, and some patients may take a mixture of high CBD and low THC to meet their own needs. This is because every person responds differently to cannabis. People’s physiological societies change over time, including ECS and the density of receptors in the brain and body. These factors change during our life cycle, so the optimal ratio and dose of the mixture of CBD and THC will also change.

We need more research to prove the proportion of mixtures that are suitable for most people.


In medical use for pain relief, doctors prefer CBD rather than THC. One reason is because of CBD has almost no side effects. Another is that the risk of medical cannabis is lower than other traditional pain-relief medications. CBD can provide more pain relief effects while providing more benefits. But studies have shown that supplements combined with CBD and THC show better results in clinical trials for the treatment of pain. Although experts prefer the CBD, research suggests that the best pain management may come from strains with large amounts of both compounds. Since the reactions are different, it is best for patients to discuss the plan for your pain management with a medical professional before using it. We also suggest that start the experiment at a small dose.


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