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Should You Choose High THC Flower or High CBD Flower?

When choosing a cannabis product, you can’t escape Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). The content of these two cannabinoids is prominently listed on most every cannabis product. These two cannabinoids are the most common and well-known of the more than 100 found in the cannabis plant, and they tend to be an important factor in many consumers’ choice of strain. Should you choose a high THC strain, a high CBD strain or a more balanced strain? Read on to learn more about THC and CBD levels in cannabis flower.

What’s the difference between high THC and high CBD flower?

Depending on your preferences, you might want to choose one type of strain over another. Both THC and CBD offer some therapeutic properties, but each makes you feel better in a different way. While there are some similarities between the two, they excel at alleviating different symptoms – and there is a clear difference in consumption experience between a high THC strain and a high CBD strain.

Generally, THC-dominant strains of flower range from 10% to 25% THC content, while CBD-dominant strains tend to range from 10% to 20% CBD content. Balanced strains might contain between 5% and 10% of each.[1 ]The two phytocannabinoids create wildly different experiences in high concentrations; high THC results in an intoxicating experience, while a high CBD strain isn’t likely to result in the same intoxication. When CBD and THC are present in balanced amounts, you’re likely to have a more “even keeled” experience.

So, which type of strain should you choose? This guide breaks down the difference between high THC flower and high CBD flower, and in which circumstances you may want to try each type.

How do you know if your flower is high CBD or high THC?

The easiest way to determine the THC and CBD content of a cannabis product is to examine the package. There is typically a percentage of THC and CBD listed prominently on the label. In some cases, you might even see other cannabinoids, such as Cannabigerol (CBG) or Cannabinol (CBN) listed on the label as well.

Typically, THC dominant cannabis flower (which usually contains about 10% THC or greater) will usually contain a low CBD content (1% or less). Conversely, high CBD flower typically contains little THC. In fact, many high CBD strains contain less than 5% THC and as much as 20% CBD. For example, the strain “Harlequin” generally contains 4% to 7% THC, but can contain up to 16% CBD.

However, in manufactured products like edibles or concentrates, you might find THC and CBD content expressed as a ratio. For example, if you select a product that is listed as “10:1” on the label, it means there is 10 times the amount of THC as there is CBD in that product. If you consumed it, you could expect a relatively potent THC experience. A ratio of 1:1, on the other hand, would mean a product contains a balanced level of both THC and CBD.

But how can you know which percentage or ratio is right for you? It starts with understanding the characteristics and experience associated with each phytocannabinoid, as well as understanding your own goals.

Advantages of high CBD flower

High CBD flower has several characteristics that make it a useful choice for many consumers. Among these characteristics are the following:

  • Non-intoxicating: Consuming a high CBD, low THC strain of flower isn’t likely to impair your senses like a high THC strain might. This makes it great for people looking for the therapeutic effects of cannabis but not the intoxication that comes along with THC. It also makes high CBD strains a great choice for people who want to reduce their tolerance to THC.
  • Calming: CBD has been observed to help reduce stress and anxiety. A 2019 study found that 300 to 600 mg of CBD successfully reduced reported anxiety symptoms in 57 male subjects.[2] If you want to relax a bit but don’t want to be walloped by a high THC strain, a high CBD strain might be for you.
  • Pain relieving: Studies have demonstrated that CBD could be an effective analgesic, including one human study in which six out of seven subjects reported a significant improvement in pain after being treated with CBD following kidney surgery[3]. While THC is also considered an effective analgesic, many consumers prefer the clear-headed experience CBD offers.
  • Non-drowsy: Consuming a high CBD strain isn’t likely to leave you couch-locked. In fact, studies suggest CBD could actually promote alertness and focus.[4] High CBD strains aren’t likely to leave you feeling sluggish and unfocused like some high THC strains might.

If any of the use cases above appeal to you, high CBD flower might be the right choice. If not, high THC strains offer a unique set of characteristics all their own that might be better suited for your goals.

Advantages of high THC flower

High THC flower is intoxicating in a way that most high CBD flower simply is not. But that’s not the only characteristic associated with high THC flower; it also offers some potential therapeutic purposes.

  • Sleep: There is some evidence that high THC content could induce sleep,[5] making high THC strains a good choice for those having trouble getting restful sleep through the night.
  • Pain relief: If you are experiencing difficult to relieve pain, THC could potentially help with that as well. Multiple clinical human studies of cannabis as an analgesic have yielded promising results[6]. For consumers who don’t mind the intoxicating qualities of THC, high THC flower can be an effective choice for pain management. It may be better used at night, with a high CBD strain used throughout the day.
  • Potency: Naturally, the intoxicating qualities of THC are a positive for many consumers. If you enjoy the intoxication of high THC strains and find that your tolerance is building, finding strains with an even higher percentage of THC is likely to deliver a preferable experience.

Don’t forget about terpene content

While both THC and CBD content are important indicators of what you might expect from a particular strain of cannabis flower, they’re not the bottom line. It is also important to consider the other cannabinoids present in the flower, as well as a group of entirely different compounds called “terpenes.”

Terpenes are aromatic and flavorful compounds found within a wide range of plants worldwide. More than 200 terpenes are found in cannabis, and these compounds can influence your cannabis experience significantly. Some terpene combinations might induce a drowsiness, while others provide an energizing experience. Other combinations might excel at pain relief, while others still are well suited for stress alleviation.

The way terpenes and cannabinoids combine to augment one another’s effects is referred to as the “entourage effect.” Researchers are still examining the mechanisms by which cannabinoids and terpenes elicit their individual effects, as well as how they influence one another when present together.

Not all high THC strains will make you sleepy, for example, so if you are after a strain that induces drowsiness, consider one high in terpenes like myrcene  or linalool . Similarly, not every high CBD strain is going to excel at providing pain relief. Ensure the strain you’re choosing has a high amount of analgesic terpenes, such as beta caryophyllene.

THC and CBD are a good starting point

If you’re looking for a strong foundation on which to start gauging a particular strain of cannabis flower, look to both THC and CBD content first. To keep it simple: if you want to avoid intoxication, steer clear of THC. If you’re looking for potency, high THC strains are for you.

Remember: While THC and CBD content are good starting points for understanding how a particular strain or cannabis product might affect you, it’s important to understand all the other compounds present in the product as well. While a high THC strain might seem effective for someone seeking a more restful sleep, some high THC strains could have the opposite effect. Similarly, a high CBD strain won’t always make you feel sharp and alert, so considering the other compounds is essential.

We understand that your cannabis journey can sometimes be daunting. In those times, Ethos associates are here for you to turn to. We don’t simply want to provide you with the high-quality cannabis products you deserve, but also help learn and grow together. If you have any questions our knowledgeable associates are standing by ready to guide you toward the best choice possible for your goals.

Sources:

1. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/understanding-marijuana-thc-cbd-levels

2. https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-44462019000100009&tlng=en

3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0041134517309624?via%3Dihub

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023456/

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15118485/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224384/

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