Can CBD Counteract the Effects of THC?

CBD is considered to be anti-psychotic, and therefore can mediate the psychoactive effects of THC. But to what degree can this be proven in a lab, and to what extent can recreational users exploit this quality of CBD? Scientific and anecdotal evidence point to the conclusion that CBD can counteract the effects of THC, perhaps via the entourage effect.

CBD and THC are two of the most well known and well researched cannabinoids. For the last ten years, the media has popularized their various properties, medicinal and otherwise. There is increasing public awareness that continues to drive the cause of cannabinoids in medicine.

The question is commonly presented: can CBD counteract the effects of THC? To answer the question: yes, CBD can counter the effects triggered by THC. The claim has been proven both on a clinical level, via studies meant to explore the future possibilities for pharmaceutical, cannabis-based drugs, and via numerous anecdotal reports from recreational users.

CBD and THC levels vary among different cannabis strains. Varieties containing high levels of either cannabinoid are advertised as such, so that medical and recreational users have the freedom to personalise their experience.

From a recreational standpoint, CBD is not conventionally sought after. THC, on the other hand, is psychoactive and therefore has a recreational application. It is usually the THC level that defines the overall “potency” of the strain, although this does depend on what the strain is being used for.

Cannabis varieties with high levels of CBD are mostly popular among medicinal cannabis users, as well as mild recreational users looking to wind down without necessarily finding themselves in a potentially dysfunctional haze. This is because CBD is non-psychoactive and is abundant in therapeutic effects.

CBD to counter THC in medicine

Because of the illegal status of cannabis that remains in many countries, the use of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes is not exactly as democratized as it should be. THC, despite its countless potential advantages (pain management, appetite stimulant, antiemetic, intraocular pressure relief, etc.), is still the object of taboo, solely because of its psychoactive properties. CBD on the other hand, while a poor choice for recreational users, is very much focused on in medicine, in order to create treatments involving minimal side effects.

Most of THC-induced effects result from its partial agonist activity on receptors CB1 and CB2, respectively present mainly in the central nervous system and in the immune system. Its psychoactive properties, for instance, have to do with the former. CBD’s affinity for cannabinoid receptors is much weaker than THC, although it impacts the endocannabinoid system in other ways. However, CBD acts as a partial CB1 antagonist, and as a weak inverse CB2 agonist.

In this study published in Front Psychology, the question of CBDs countereffect on psychoactive  THC was questioned. It is questioned in the context of countering the “permanent” and “adverse” effects of THC such as paranoia, anxiety and memory impairment. This is particularly pertinent in the case of medicinal cannabis users who may want the medicinal benefits of cannabis but who may experience negative side effects from THC. In any case, the analysis shows that CBD may be neuroprotective and therefore, to a certain degree, counteract negative side effects of THC.

In fact, CBD’s interaction with THC is an example of the “entourage effect”, whereby all cannabinoids and terpenoids present in a specimen of cannabis contribute to the overall effect in a collective manner. CBD and THC can coexist as a viable treatment option, even for those who are sensitive to the effects of THC and are prone to the negative side effects. In another example, CBD slows the breakdown of THC in the liver, allowing for a longer efficiency of its therapeutic attributes.

There is much work to be done in terms of determining the exact details of how CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, thus impacting the effects produced by THC. When CBD is taken out of context, i.e., in a single cannabinoid medicine, it is unclear how it interacts with THC.

The entourage effect is something that generally refers to all the cannabinoids present in a single specimen of cannabis. Modern science is, as yet, unsure how the entourage effect translates into combining single cannabinoids that have already been isolated from the plant.

For example, in this study, researchers investigated the effects of orally consumed CBD on the effects of smoked THC. When oral CBD was administered, researchers observed no significant effect on any of the outcomes measured. This suggests that CBD’s effects on THC are due to individual differences in plasma drug levels.

Furthermore, modern medicine confirms why THC is psychoactive, namely because THC acts on CB1 receptors (partial agonist) in the central nervous system). CBD, however, is a partial antagonist of CB1 receptors. This may be why it is very difficult to recreate the entourage effect in a laboratory.

CBD is considered to be anti-psychotic and neuroprotective. This has implications for the application of CBD in certain mental illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia, dementia etc. However, it is not understood how these characteristics mediate the effects of THC outside of the entourage effect, and therefore requires further research.

Recreational cannabis users and CBD

Different cannabis strains are advertised as having different qualities: “couch-lock”, “energetic”, “powerhouses” and “relaxing”. This is, in large part, due to the concentration of different cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.

The question of whether CBD can counteract the effects of THC has piqued scientific curiosity for some time now. However, designing such a study is extremely difficult because it requires isolating cannabinoids and then administering them together.

This is necessary because otherwise researchers would not know how much of each cannabinoid is administered. At the same time, this kind of study takes cannabinoids out of context and therefore removes the entourage effect, which may be the whole mechanism by which CBD mediates THC effects.

As a result, anecdotal stories and recreational users remain some of the best sources of information regarding how CBD mediates the effects of THC.

It has become increasingly commonplace for recreational users to resort to CBD in the event of a ‘white-out’ (an unpleasant but harmless cannabis ‘overdose’). Recreational users report that this works, which would create an unusual situation where CBD could be used by recreational cannabis users.

But in the spirit of making the cannabis experience an inclusive one, it is important – even to those who don’t need it – to wonder in which contexts recreational CBD could in fact be beneficial. It’s an important consequence of this question, alongside whether CBD can help those using medicinal THC to overcome the unwanted side effects.

Don’t forget to tell us about your own experience with THC & CBD in the comments section!

  • Disclaimer:
    This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your doctor or other licensed medical professional. Do not delay seeking medical advice or disregard medical advice due to something you have read on this website.

Comments

20 thoughts on “Can CBD Counteract the Effects of THC?”

  1. Joel Munson

    Is one supposed to take CBD before, during, or after THC to mitigate the psychoactive effects?

    1. Jon at POTLUCK

      You may take CBD before and after. Only very small amounts are needed of distillate to notice the calming effect. If you are experiencing undesirable effects from THC it is nice to have some CBD around to help stabilize your bodies Cannabinoid receptors. You can order pure CBD distillate from industrial hemp.

      Industrial Hemp has only .3% THC (the legal maximum) and has a higher concentration of CBD than most Cannabis Flower strains. Other components such as terpenes, and small amounts of other cannabinoids are introduced after extraction to create a “full profile” of interaction for the CBD. Grateful Crystals are 100% organic, non-gmo, and pure meaning they are the most “bio-available”. They go straight into the blood stream rather than needing to be digested.

  2. Don’t do it if you want to medicate regularly with THC and for me, here’s why. I was honorably discharged from the Army in 2016. Several months before I got out my friend had told me about a vape product w CBD in it that medicates you w/out failing a urinalysis. I tried it and I LOVED it. All the research I had done said it was a safe and natural product, which it is, so I smoked about .5ml every other day. I noticed quickly that my tolerance was going up, .5ml turned into 2ml as the “high” became shorter and harder to achieve. Then I got out of the Army and the day came that I could smoke marijuana w/out worries of military action…… At first I couldn’t get high, I smoked A LOT of very good strains and concentrates and I would feel nothing. This was weird as right before I tried CBD, I had taking a couple puffs of some mid stuff and INSTANTLY felt the affect. So chemically, something had changed in my brain and THC just wasn’t working 🙁 At first I blamed it on stress, new civilian life, family always around (LOL) as a reason mentally I couldn’t get high. So fast forward to now, about 8 months later, I haven’t done any CBD since and THC is working however, very slowly and it isn’t the same. Reading this article I now understand why I couldn’t get high off of THC, I was blasting my brain w so much CBD that I was inadvertently building an insane tolerance for THC… I had set myself up for failure 😉 Obviously I know that if I just quit for a couple months everything would reset itself I’d imagine but.. I prefer my medication green and smoked rather than round and swallowed. SGT E

    1. Hey Sgt, what product were you taking? Trying to push Charlotte’s Web and other products with less than .3 THC for some guys in the Corps but worried about drug testing. Thoughts?

  3. I smoke a little THC everyday, along with taking CBD oil, and it is a game changer. The CBD oil blocks the feelings of anxiety and paranoia, caused by the THC, along with blocking out the munchies as well. I take the THC for depression and CBD deals with my anxiety. Love the combination.

    1. This is my problem right now .In 2015 i had a panic attack after hitting a big dab ( ive smoked thc for over ten years before this freak out) ever since then i have not smoked thc .Am scared to freak out again but i miss it a lot . I’ve always had really bad anxiety so this past week decided to try cbd after doing lots of research let’s just say I’ll probably never stop taking it .I only take a little bit every other day or when i feel anxiety coming on it works wonders.

      My question is if i decide to go back to thc should i take the CBD before or after and dose it really help to conbine the two .

      1. I have had some very real issues with insomnia for the past 3 years which date back to the time I became a regular user. I prefer an indication strain as it can relax me enough to drift off but after a month or so no longer works for sleep and I become anxiety ridden when I go to bed. This all in turns does nothing to ease the sleep situation. Usually I stop using the product for awhile and after a week or so I use it again and all in well. This pattern repeats continually. I’ve tried the CBD alone and it just seems to fire the engine and wake me even more. So I am thinking now of trying them together based on these articles. Many years ago I suffered from panic attacks so maybe a THC effect people differently based on the way your brain is wired. (???)

  4. I’ve been smoking weed for 15 years. For the past 10 years I’ve been smoking to to help deal with anxiety and depression. I’ve tried all the SSRI’s and beta blockers, some of them work but usually came with extreme side affects like muscle spasms, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, weight gain and heart palpitations. I stopped the doctors prescriptions two years ago and decided to stick with weed temporarily relieve my pain.

    A couple of weeks ago I discovered CBD oil and purchased myself a 10ml bottle. Its been a week since I’ve started taking CBD oil and i haven’t felt this good in over a decade. It feels so good to be able to wake up in the morning and function like a normal person without the need to take THC.

    I’ve lost over a decade of my life to THC, ironically CBD is giving it back.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Dave,

      Thank you for this comment, it’s great to hear that you have had such good results with the CBD oil and that your quality of life has improved so much! Long may this continue 🙂

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

  5. I have been using both THC and CBD medical marijuana for several years and one thing I have realized is that CBD does not reduce my high. If smoked after a THC joint it does relax me but it also makes me much higher and I have a more psychedelic experience. To say CBD will reduce you high is false in my experience.

  6. Hell no, my edible has a mix of 50mg of thc & 20mg cannabidiol. And i am freaking out ? i am freaked out because reading this was confusing & now i dont really know what it was meaning, so now i dont know if its gunna last this long.

  7. I’ve only recently started trying the CBD, but I came on here to see if it was intensifying other people’s high as well. So seeing it say that it should be reducing it was really confusing to read.
    I have a vape pen filled with .5g of 250mg CBD (which between my mom and my myself a small dent has been made in but still well over half is left) and I hate a 100mg CBD Nerds Rope.
    I tried it all after smoking a bowl, I was super relaxed. I didn’t need my sleeping pill, I kind of felt floaty (in a good way, like all the stress weight had been lifted off me and a lot of my pain was gone).
    The only thing I can say that seems accurate is that I did not have the munchies as bad as I usually do lol.

    Aside from that, combining the THC and the CBD products was like the biggest blessing of my damn life

  8. Thanks for the great article. I do however have a question that someone might help with. I want to get rid of the THC content when baking the leaves, but not harm the CBD content. What are the temperatures to get the THC out and for how long should I bake it?

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Danine,

      Thanks for your comment. The leaves themselves do not contain THC, although the small leaves that are close to the buds quite often have a coating of trichomes, which do contain THC (this is why they are sometimes known as “sugar leaves”, because they look like they are coated in sugar). If you avoid these leaves, there should be no need to try to remove the THC without harming the CBD, and in honesty I don’t know if that is even possible – does anyone else have ideas on this?

      With best wishes

      Scarlet

  9. Tonight is the first night I’ve ever tried CBD. I have been taking suboxone for 7-8 years daily now and I’m using it to ween off the subs. Already it’s helped me to skip a normal dose and that to me is a fucking miracle, I feel like I’ve shown more signs of life in these past 5 hours than I have in the past 7-8 years. Granted subs helped save me from heroin but I NEVER would have taken suboxone to help with damage control if I had known about CBD. I have yet to try it with THC but it’s not really priority to me honestly I just want to get off these fucking subs before they kill me and I’m in awe at the medicinal properties already provided by CBD alone. I’m sure combining may help to give that full entourage effect thing but I’m a bit nervous to add THC into the mix but eventually do want to make it my permanent medication over suboxone and any other pharmaceutical. If you are an opiate addict looking to get clean without fucking yourself over worse please try CBD! You won’t be one hundred percent comfortable but the difference between that and kicking dope is night and day with CBD! How this is not a natural option among rehabilitation clinics is beyond me.

    1. I was on suboxone/ buprenorphine, since about 13 years, when they came out.
      I was on at one point 3 -8 mg a day.
      That’s a lot.
      Anyway,
      I was just reading someone was on Subs for years, and now does CBD.
      Yes, it works wonders.
      I weaned myself off Subs, and I’m completely off now, thank god.
      I take CBD oil everyday.
      It’s a little expensive,
      But I do not care.
      What a miracle
      I was on OPIODS for years, and I’ve never felt better.
      i hope the best for you. I’d much rather go to the marijuana store, instead of the pharmacy!!

  10. Dan the man

    TLDR: COLD WATER ON THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD KILLS A WHITEY!
    I have smoked many types of weed in my time been addicted and stopped many times. So often that I have experienced ‘The Whitey’ or as you so eloquently put it ‘An introspective dive into your Sub-Conciousness’ very many times….The main reason being that on that first night… I always seem to take too much….(I like it ..alot) …nevertheless I have a solution that hopefully will work on others because this works EVERY TIME for me and its quite amazing how well this manages to bring the lovely feeling back. I get this so bad that I can actually end up crawling … clawing my shirt off… and wishing I hadn’t bought as much as I did…this has several times made me literally sick as a dog and end up yno chatting to Huey the great White telephone that lives in the bathroom…too hot and hyper ventillating…..I used to then crawl to bed…If I could see at all.. lol or just crashing right there on the nice cool bathroom floor…. FEAR NOT THERE IS AN ANSWER! I discovered this because I can get the same effect from playing Video games (3D) while high… one day I was playing at a friends house and normally I would have to stop….coz the wobblies were comming! But It turns out he had a Fan pointing at our backs while we were playing that day…. cool air?…Not quite but close….
    So I realised that I wasn’t getting ‘The wobblies’ and there was no ‘Whitey’ and could play for hours….which was really odd…. So I realised that –
    ———————-ITS HOW HOT THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD IS ———————
    Ever since then If I get ‘the wobblies’ I just throw a bunch of Cold water into the nape of my neck (at the back of the head) just under the skull line….and boom Just like that they dissapear! and yeh I just dont suffer any where near as much as I did.. Gaming has been So much fun since that day…. Although I am still real carefull on that first day back on because the Weed I get is really stoopid strong anyhow… I hope this helps someone as much as it helps me! 8o)
    …2ndLemonhaze…3rdCritical +2….4thSKUNK#1….and my top fav 1stWWhite WWidoWW

  11. taliawinter

    im was so tight bc i just starting taking CBD oil today for anxiety and other stuff and ive been smoking bud with only THC like everyday for around a year and i j smoked and i was like why am i barely clapped lmk so thanks for answering homes

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    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
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    Sanjai Sinha

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