Does CBD Work Without THC?

WRITTEN by Caleb

 | Last revised

If the entourage effect is real, how effective can CBD be if you don’t bring a little THC along for the ride?

Can CBD work without THC? Of course, we have studies to suggest CBD works effectively as a stand-alone cannabinoid. [1]

But what about the entourage effect? Doesn’t CBD need other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids to be effective?

We’ll explore some of the latest research on the topic. However, before we get started, we think it’s important to point out that we always advocate using full-spectrum products as opposed to isolate products.

How does CBD work without THC

How does CBD oil work without THC? Simple, by interacting with the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor.

OK, maybe not so simple.

Researchers are still discovering how serotonergic systems relate to the endocannabinoid system. But if results are any indication, CBD can reduce anxiety and symptoms related to inflammation.[2]

CBD can even help with sleep.[3] And, of course, CBD’s efficacy for epilepsy is well documented.[4]

CBD oil works without THC just fine. There’s no need to understand the nuances of 5-HT1A receptors, TRPV1 proteins, or allosteric modulators.

But if you insist, here’s a brief explanation.

CBD interacts with 5-HT receptors that are part of a “super family” of G-protein receptors in the brain and body. These neurotransmitter systems are associated with pain relief and reduced anxiety.[5]

THC binds to our CB1 and CB2 receptors, making users feel “high.” CBD doesn’t bind directly to these receptors.

CBD doesn’t compete for cannabinoid receptors in your brain. But does it interfere with THC? That is, will the presence of CBD in your system alter THC benefits?

We’ll get to that below. But first, we’ll answer, “does CBD without THC work?”

Does CBD without THC work?

Does CBD work without THC present in your system? It depends on what you mean by “work” and “present.”

A full-spectrum CBD product with 1% THC isn’t going to get you “high.” Unlike a similar product with a split 50/50 THC: CBD ratio.

What do you need CBD for? Someone with chronic pain may prefer more THC in their product than someone looking to reduce anxiety.

You can find CBD with melatonin added to help sleep on the Australian green market. One can find a range of high-quality products if they do their research.

So, depending on your needs, CBD can work without THC. Cannabidiol, on its own, works in clinical studies and anecdotally.

But CBD without THC benefits means you’ll miss the entourage effect.

For example, research shows THC reduces anxiety in low doses.[6] So if you’re avoiding full-spectrum products due to THC content, you might want to rethink your decision.

A close-up of a cannabis bud with trichomes and orange hairs

Do You Need Other Cannabinoids to Make CBD Work?

The entourage effect says cannabinoids work better when they’re together.[7]

Now, you don’t have to take anything but CBD (this is called a CBD isolate). But it won’t be as effective as full or broad-spectrum products.

CBD isolates lack the terpenes and flavonoids that help contribute to cannabis’ medicinal properties.

Research has found[8] that terpenes and phytocannabinoids work together to help reduce:

  • cancer
  • epilepsy
  • inflammation
  • anxiety
  • pain
  • fungal infection

The author suggests terpenes and flavonoids are beneficial for the body and brain. They contribute the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis to these phytocannabinoids.

According to research, cannabis terpenes may have neuroprotective properties, making full-spectrum cannabis a superior product.[9]

More research is needed to determine if CBD oil is effective without THC. But CBD without THC benefits is incomplete.

What About THC without CBD?

Although this article is not the scope, it’s interesting that many connoisseurs have noted that CBD dulls their THC high.

What’s going on here? While it’s not entirely clear, it appears that CBD keeps our cannabinoid receptors from getting overly excited.[10]

That is to say, CBD doesn’t prevent THC from binding to our CB1 and CB2 receptors. But CBD does appear to attenuate THC’s effects. [11][12][13]

Is CBD Without THC Right for You?

Plenty of research supports CBD working by itself. How do you know which cannabinoid is right for you?

The best thing to do is talk to your health care provider. Technically this is the only way to get medical cannabis in Australia.

But it’s also a good idea if you’re on medication that may adversely react with CBD.

There are plenty of high-quality CBD products found on the green market. You can experiment with broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, and a CBD isolates product if all else fails.

Whatever you decide, the answer is yes: CBD works by itself.

But suppose you really want to ramp up the benefits of medical cannabis. In that case, you should look at incorporating more than just CBD.

And that may include a little THC.

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1. Ruth Gallily, Zhannah Yekhtin, Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, "Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol".
Scientific Research.
2. Lex Pelger , "CBD & the Psychedelic Receptor ".
Project CBD.
3. Scott Shannon, Nicole Lewis, Heather Lee, Shannon Hughes, "Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series ".
4. Serena Silvestro, Santa Mammana, Eugenio Cavalli, at el., "Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials".
5. Lex Pelger , "CBD & the Psychedelic Receptor".
Project CBD.
6. Ana Maria Raymundi, Thiago R. da Silva, Jeferson M. B. Sohn, at el., "Effects of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol on aversive memories and anxiety: a review from human studies".
7. Sari Goldstein Ferber, Dvora Namdar, Danielle Hen-Shoval, at el., "The "Entourage Effect": Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders".
8. Ethan B Russo , "Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects".
9. Katrina Weston-Green, "The United Chemicals of Cannabis: Beneficial Effects of Cannabis Phytochemicals on the Brain and Cognition".
10. R B Laprairie, A M Bagher, M E M Kelly, E M Denovan-Wright, "Cannabidiol is a negative allosteric modulator of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor ".
11. Raymond J. M. Niesink, Margriet W. van Laar, "Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC?".
12. Celia J A Morgan, Tom P Freeman, Gráinne L Schafer, H Valerie Curran, "Cannabidiol attenuates the appetitive effects of Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol in humans smoking their chosen cannabis".
13. Douglas L Boggs, Jacques D Nguyen, Daralyn Morgenson, at el., "Clinical and Preclinical Evidence for Functional Interactions of Cannabidiol and Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol".


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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

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