Products that are high in CBD and low in THC may be ideal for patients looking to keep a clear head, while getting some much needed mind-body health benefits, i CBD and THC are both derived from cannabis plants, but they’re very different. Learn the differences between CBD and THC. CBD marijuana strains are becoming more and more popular as CBD helps to treat a variety of medical conditions. Find out which ranked the best..
The Calming Effects of High CBD and Low THC
Did you know research shows there are between 80 and 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant? That’s not even counting the roughly 300 non-cannabinoid chemicals it produces, which shows just how little we’ve skimmed the surface thus far on medical marijuana.
But first, what are Cannabinoids?
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation , the word cannabinoid refers to “every chemical substance, regardless of structure or origin, that joins the cannabinoid receptors of the body and brain.”
Of the cannabis plant’s naturally occurring cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are among the most well-known. While THC is known for its psychoactive effects, CBD is thought to moderate the “high” caused by THC, balancing out the effects for a more calming consumption experience when combined. If CBD is used independently it doesn’t cause any highs. Instead, it’s thought to work with other elements in the body linked to feelings of general well-being.
It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right?
In a previous blog , we introduced what scientists call the entourage effect, a phenomenon that occurs when various plant cannabinoids work together synergistically to produce an even more therapeutic effect than they would as isolated components.
For this same reason, CBD and THC go hand in hand. For those that may experience negative side effects alongside THC, like anxiety or paranoia, CBD is thought to mellow these out.
The reason this occurs is because the shape and chemical makeup of CBD and THC are very different. When CBD binds to receptors in the body, known as our CB1 receptors, it actually blocks THC from attaching to those same receptors in a first-come, first-serve manner. This reduces the psychoactivity of products that contain THC and can pave the way for the relaxing effects CBD is known for.
How to Find the Right Ratio for You
While tolerance to these cannabinoids differ from one patient to the next, it’s always best to implement the golden rule of cannabis–– start low, go slow ––until you find what works best for your body.
With this in mind, many patients are opting for ratios that are high in CBD and low in THC in order to get “the benefits without the buzz,” also known as microdosing .
Products that are high in CBD and low in THC may be ideal for patients looking to keep a clear head, while getting some much-needed mind-body health benefits, including relief from stress, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and more.
If you’re a medical patient, ask your local dispensary for specific strains and products to achieve these desired effects.
Just beginning your journey with medical marijuana? Call or request an appointment with Kaya Life to learn more about taking your first step.
What’s the difference between CBD and THC?
Cannabis consumers have long prized potency (a high THC content) as a primary factor for strain popularity and desirability. This traditional demand for THC has caused an over-saturation of high-potency products, though many consumers now prefer less intense products lower in THC and higher in the non-intoxicating compound called CBD (cannabidiol). Both have unique properties that make them ideal for all your weed needs.
CBD vs. THC: Key differences
THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, but they’re different in many ways that may influence your next dispensary purchase.
An easy way to think about it is that THC is defined by effects that cannabis makes you feel. CBD will not intoxicate you, or get you high.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in various strains of the cannabis and hemp plants, with a long list of holistic and medicinal benefits. Like THC, the human body absorbs it via a system of cannabis-friendly receptors called the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate everything from sleep cycles to immunity to reproductive health.
But unlike THC, CBD doesn’t bind to the system’s primary CB1 and CB2 receptors; rather, it helps regulate how these receptors and cannabinoids interact.
It can also counteract some of the intoxicating effects of THC by binding to other cannabinoid receptors, and will keep THC from activating those receptors. This translates to a less intense psychoactive effect, making products with a mix of CBD and THC great options for first-time consumers.
This does not mean that CBD, by itself, cannot offer a beneficial effect. High doses of CBD often produce a profoundly relaxing experience with ample internal perks. Like stepping out of a hot tub, your body may feel tingly and relaxed, and your brain may be clear.
Breeding the house specialty: Waterloo is a low-THC, high-CBD strain unique to Compassionate Cultivation. (Photo: Ben Adlin)
What is THC?
THC is the star cannabinoid of the weed world. It imparts cannabis’ beloved high sensation, and its use for treating numerous medical maladies via the plant has been cited in medical texts for thousands of years. It was first discovered and isolated in Israel in 1964, and high-THC weed remains the world’s most widely-consumed illicit substance.
THC primarily binds with the body’s CB1 receptors, which abound in the brain and central nervous system, as well as the eyes and spleen.
The intensity of THC’s effects can change when combined with other cannabis and terpenes as part of the entourage effect theory, which argues that “various cannabis compounds work together to create unique effects and benefits.”
CBD vs. THC: Legality
Currently, 37 states plus DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands have medical marijuana programs with both CBD and THC products; 18 states have legal adult use laws. The passing of the Farm Bill in December 2018 made industrial hemp a legal agricultural commodity in all 50 states.
However, the legality of hemp-derived CBD may vary from state to state, so it’s important to check your state’s laws before stocking up on hemp-derived CBD products.
Marijuana and THC are classified as Schedule I substances and remain illegal at the federal level. Strains that have a high CBD:THC ratio are legal only in states with legal, regulated cannabis markets.
CBD vs. THC: Molecular structure
On a molecular level, THC and CBD have a lot in common. They resemble the endocannabinoids our bodies naturally produce, and both contain 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. They diverge in the structures that connect these atoms, which impacts how they bind to different receptors and catalyze the release of neurotransmitters in the human body. This accounts for their distinct effects on consumers.
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive components and effects
The molecular differences between CBD and THC contribute directly to their difference in effects on the body and endocannabinoid system. THC’s molecular structure fits perfectly into CB1 receptors and mimics the effects of endocannabinoid anandamide, which signals the brain to release dopamine—hence, the high. CBD’s atomic arrangement means it does not bind well to CB1 and CB2 receptors, but its presence can counteract the presence of THC binding, as well as influence the efficacy of other neurotransmitters in the body.
CBD vs THC: Medical benefits and effects
In the limited body of marijuana research, cannabinoids like THC and CBD have shown to work most effectively when in tandem with one another, terpenes, and other minor marijuana compounds in a synergy called the entourage effect. But both can help address a number of conditions in isolation.
CBD medicinal effects
The list of conditions CBD may help with continues to grow and evolve. Despite ample self-reported and studied evidence, more research is still needed to better understand the efficacy and range of CBD’s benefits for humans and animals with endocannabinoid systems. Many use CBD and CBD-based products to manage the following symptoms and conditions:
- Epilepsy and seizure disorders
- Pain and inflammation
- PTSD and anxiety
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Opioid withdrawal
Though clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests CBD can help manage different conditions, CBD became most famous for treating a rare and debilitating form of pediatric epilepsy. Dravet’s Syndrome is notoriously resistant to current treatment methods. People with the condition are plagued by seizures, often up to hundreds a day, and they usually worsen as people age and can be life-threatening.
Currently, treatment methods include having a child wear an eyepatch, specialized diets, and brain surgery, but all have mixed success rates.
One of the earliest CBD success stories involved a young girl with Dravet’s Syndrome named Charlotte Figi, who at five years old was given an ingestible oil derived from Charlotte’s Web, a high-CBD cannabis strain specifically developed to provide her with all the benefits of the plant without the high.
In less than two years, Charlotte went from a monthly seizure count of 1,200 to about three. Other success stories followed and more parents have begun to speak out, particularly parents desperate for access to this life-saving treatment.
Though Charlotte passed in April of 2020 at the age of 13, she far outlived the prognosis given to her before starting CBD treatment, which predicted she wouldn’t live past eight.
In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first CBD product federally approved to treat Dravet’s Syndrome. The DEA has scheduled it as a Schedule V substance.
THC medicinal effects
While the euphoria that comes with smoking, dabbing, eating or ingesting weed doesn’t officially count as a medical treatment, high-THC cannabis and byproducts have a long history of mitigating mental and physical health symptoms and conditions.
Many patients find that a balance of CBD and THC offers the best symptom relief as the two work together synergistically, and they overlap in treatment, but THC is particularly effective in relieving the following symptoms and conditions.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of appetite
How to find the best CBD cannabis product for you
CBD has no lethal dose or known serious side effects, and many of THC’s negative side effects have been debunked as based on bad-faith research. Using cannabis-derived compounds for pediatric conditions remains a touchy subject in a culture rife with cannabis stigma. We recommend doing your own research and speaking with a medical professional familiar with cannabis and how it may benefit you. If you live in a legal state, Leafly can help you find a doctor.
What are some high-CBD strains I can try?
Before human intervention, cannabis grew wildly with much lower cannabinoid levels than present day. Most cannabis strains are bred for potency and high THC, with less than 1% CBD or other cannabinoids. CBD is typically the second-most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, but this isn’t always the case. A strain may deliver CBD and THC in the following ratios:
- High THC, low CBD (e.g.,10-30% THC,
- Balanced CBD/THC (e.g., 5-15% THC and 5-15% CBD)
- High CBD, low THC (e.g., 5-20% CBD, THC under 5%)
Typical levels of CBD & THC in marijuana
By and large, most of the weed you’ll find in dispensaries and on the black market has been grown to exhibit as much THC as possible. Most pre-packaged flower sits at around 20% THC, and
High-CBD strains tend to deliver very clear-headed, functional effects without the euphoric or sedating highs associated with high-THC strains. They suit consumers who are extremely sensitive to the side effects of THC (e.g., anxiety, paranoia, dizziness).
A high-CBD strain also benefits anyone needing to medicate throughout the day to control pain, inflammation, anxiety, or other chronic conditions.
Balanced CBD/THC strains feel more euphoric than CBD-dominant strains, though they’re much less likely to induce anxiety, paranoia, and other negative side effects. Strains like these tend to be the most effective for pain relief, and they’re also well-suited for THC-sensitive consumers who’d like a mellow buzz.
You can smoke or vaporize CBD-rich flower, eat a CBD-infused edible, swallow a CBD oil capsule, apply a CBD lotion, or use a CBD tincture sublingually, just high-THC products. Hemp products also contain CBD, though it is a less efficient source and lacks the beneficial chemical diversity of cannabis-derived CBD products (more on that here).
Keep in mind that CBD levels may vary from crop to crop—even from plant to plant. We also recommend checking with dispensaries about the specifics of their strains’ CBD levels, and purchasing only lab-tested products that clearly state the CBD/THC levels, so you know what kind of experience to expect.
5 Ultimate High CBD / Low THC Cannabis Strains
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Many people enjoy the intoxicating high offered by high THC marijuana strains. However, an increasing number of individuals understand the potential medicinal benefits of high CBD strains.
For some, CBD has become an important factor when choosing their medicine. Such individuals want to experience benefits without an intoxicating high. However, with so many strains to choose from, the choice is often overwhelming – and confusing.
In this article, we’ve researched several of the best high CBD/low THC strains available right now.
Defining CBD in Cannabis: An Overview
Cannabidiol is a well-known cannabis compound that has virtually no intoxicating properties. This means you won’t experience the mind-altering high synonymous with THC. Today, CBD comes in various formats and can be extracted from both types of cannabis (marijuana and hemp).
CBD comes in various formats and can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp.
CBD is commonly used for medical purposes. Many who smoke cannabis but want the benefits of CBD may want to choose an equal THC/CBD ratio, as CBD is known for countering the “high” effect associated with THC.
What Is THC? An Overview
THC is another chemical compound found in cannabis. Its official name is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. It is one of the 100+ known cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa, and it binds to receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system.
THC works by binding to CB1 receptors, which are largely concentrated in the brain and central nervous system. These produce the intoxicating effects for which marijuana is famous.
THC results in a variety of short-term soothing effects. These effects vary from person to person but can include calmness, euphoria, and anxiety reduction. You may also experience ‘couch lock’ and an increase in appetite, otherwise known as ‘the munchies.’ A small number of individuals may also experience increased anxiety or paranoia, especially with high doses.
What Are the Potential Health Benefits of High CBD/Low THC Strains?
Research into high CBD/low THC strains is ongoing, and we need far more information to make any confident declarations. However, the initial data is extremely encouraging. Many of the apparent benefits relate to pain and anxiety. We’ll delve into CBD’s potential to help individuals manage anxiety a little later.
The ability of CBD to possibly act as an analgesic is intriguing. It could help reduce chronic pain as a symptom of MS, arthritis, and many other conditions where excess inflammation is a problem.
Beat it with weed!…
Researchers now believe that CBD could work by influencing serotonin receptors. The cannabinoid could also balance GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter associated with relaxing effects.
Ultimately, CBD could help you feel less anxious and more relaxed. Furthermore, it potentially acts as a painkiller without the intoxicating high associated with THC or the high risk of addiction that comes with opioid use.
Now, let’s briefly look into CBD’s effects on anxiety disorders and other medical conditions.
Medical Conditions & High CBD/Low THC Strains
Although CBD acts on the body in a certain way, there are several ways to consume it. CBD is taken orally, as well as being applied topically or inhaled through a vaporizer. CBD edibles and oil tinctures are also increasingly popular ways to consume this cannabinoid.
Pain and Inflammation
One of CBD’s most common uses is alleviating chronic pain and reducing the reliance on prescription and over-the-counter medication. A 2012 study by Xiong et al., published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, found that CBD significantly reduced chronic pain in rats and mice. The researchers concluded that cannabidiol could help reduce chronic pain. It is currently used for conditions such as multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.
Some studies suggest that CBD is useful for managing pain, anxiety, and seizures.
CBD is also being looked at as a viable method for managing arthritic pain. A 2016 study by Hammell et al. involved applying CBD gel to rats over four days. The dosage was increased each day. Ultimately, the researchers discovered that the rats experienced reduced overall pain and inflammation in their affected joints with no side effects.
A high CBD/low THC strain called Charlotte’s Web ushered in CBD as an option for pediatric seizures. CBD has helped decrease the seizure frequency in so many children that it was eventually made into a pharmaceutical drug called Epidiolex.
CBD and Anxiety Disorders
CBD is also the preferred cannabis option for people suffering from anxiety and stress, as high THC strains can cause feelings of paranoia. A 2015 study by Blessing et al. concluded that CBD was an effective option for people with certain anxiety disorders. CBD may help with various types of anxiety, including:
Researchers have yet to discover any serious side effects of CBD consumption.
5 of the Most Popular High CBD / Low THC Strains List
1 – ACDC (15% CBD,
This strain is a 50/50 hybrid, and it has one of the highest CBD: THC ratios around. You can get up to 20% CBD versions of ACDC. While some contain up to 6% of THC, it is possible to get one with as little as 0.42%. ACDC generally leads to a strong euphoric feeling, making the user feel calm and happy. It is ideal for daytime use as it tends to make users more focused on their work and increases sociability.
ACDC is generally used to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, inflammation, migraines, nausea, neuropathy, and arthritis. It is also a favorite for people with chronic pain. It is even a good choice if you’re looking to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy treatment.
2 – Charlotte’s Web (17% CBD, Max 1% THC)
This world-famous strain is indica dominant (60%) and was the focus of a bid to legalize high CBD strains. It has a CBD content as high as 20%. Oil made from Charlotte’s Web is extremely low in THC, which means it can be sold nationwide.
There is no ‘high’ associated with this strain, and it provides users with no cerebral effect. Charlotte’s Web is typically consumed in CBD oil form rather than being smoked.
It is famed for its effectiveness when used for pediatric seizure disorders such as Dravet’s Syndrome. Charlotte’s Web is also used to help with migraines, fatigue, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, and arthritis.
3 – Ringo’s Gift (15% CBD, Max 1% THC)
This is a slightly sativa dominant (60%) strain with a CBD: THC ratio as high as 20:1. You can find strains of Ringo’s Gift with up to 20% CBD and as little as 1% THC. It is a cross of ACDC and Harle-Tsu; both are known for their high levels of CBD.
Ringo’s Gift has an earthy hash taste and aroma. Users tend to experience an element of cerebral activity while their body feels soothed and relaxed. Due to the low THC content, the high you receive is mild yet noticeable. It begins in the head and slowly but surely leads to a body buzz that keeps you relaxed but not couch-locked.
It is a popular strain for people with chronic pain, anxiety, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorder, stress, PTSD, and muscle spasms. As Ringo’s Gift keeps you relaxed yet alert and ensures you remain sociable, it is a good choice for daytime medication.
4 – Harle-Tsu (10% CBD, Max 1% THC)
This indica dominant (60%) strain is a cross of Sour Tsunami and Harlequin strains and contains up to 22% CBD and less than 1% THC. It is a relatively rare bud, but we imagine that won’t be the case for long given its popularity.
The Harle-Tsu high is rather mellow, and instead of providing you with a body or cerebral high, this strain works well as a painkiller. You may feel something of a buzz behind the eyes first, and then your body may feel free and relaxed afterward.
People often feel energized and motivated with Harle-Tsu, which means it is excellent for daytime use. It potentially works well for PMS, PTSD, migraines, depression, inflammation, and insomnia.
5 – Harlequin (10-15% CBD, 7-15% THC)
This famous sativa dominant (75%) strain has the highest THC level on the list (at a range of 7 – 15%). However, it is also notable for having a high CBD content of at least 10%. The result means Harlequin is ideal for use during the day as it keeps you alert and energetic.
Oddly enough, Harlequin is also useful for relaxing and staying calm. It has a soothing effect all over the body and in the head. The high CBD content somewhat negates the high THC content. Therefore, it should be okay to smoke it during the day, although dry eyes are a possible side effect.
Harlequin is used to combat chronic pain, depression, inflammation, migraines, PTSD, and stress. Overall, this strain is an excellent pain reliever, possibly a good alternative to OTC and prescription painkillers.
Final Thoughts – Important Safety Tips to Consider Before Using High CBD/Low THC Strains
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that CBD has a good safety profile. Research to date shows minimal side effects (though some do occur) and no evidence of addiction. Nonetheless, you should follow these tips to shop for and use CBD safely:
- Only purchase CBD products from a reputable, licensed dispensary or a trusted online seller.
- Stick with products that have third-party lab reports outlining their content.
- If you’re a complete novice, focus on strains like ACDC with a THC content below 1%.
- Remember, smoking cannabis is also bad for your lungs. While igniting marijuana flower doesn’t release as many toxic chemicals as tobacco cigarettes, the process still produces carcinogens. Therefore, consider vaping high CBD/low THC strains, or purchase edibles/tinctures.
- Finally, don’t use ANY form of marijuana if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant. Please speak to your doctor and discuss whether it is safe to use a CBD product with 0% THC.
Research into CBD is exciting, and the above cannabis strains enable you to enjoy the possible benefits of the cannabinoid without an intoxicating high. Follow our safety tips above, try one of the strains we’ve mentioned, and let us know what you think.
Don’t have access to a dispensary with these high CBD strains? Browse this year’s selection of Best CBD Oil Brands: