13 Feb 2019

If you’re new to purchasing cannabis products, you might be confused by some of the numbers found on the packaging—specifically, the ratios that many list. Even if you’re a veteran consumer, you might still be unaware of what these ratios mean. Specifically, you might not know how they affect your experience when using the product. 

What Are CBD and THC 

These ratios notate the levels of CBD (cannabidiol) to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that are present in the product. THC and CBD are both organic compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plants hemp and marijuana, but their effects on the body are very different. 

Many are familiar with THC, as it is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the euphoric feeling, or “high,” that users experience. Conversely, cannabidiol does not produce a psychoactive effect, though it does share many potential wellness benefits as tetrahydrocannabinol. Both may aid a number of health issues, as they have been studied extensively for their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Effects of CBD with THC 

For quite some time cannabis consumers have desired products with high potency (meaning: high levels of THC). While this is the case, many are turning to more balanced products that provide a less intense experience. This is due to how the cannabinoids affect each other. 

Research findings suggest that CBD is responsible for mitigating some of the negative side effects that THC produces. An article published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology reports that CBD is successful in decreasing the anxiety component of THC, which led to the subjects experiencing a more pleasurable experience. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD “inhibited THC-elicited psychosis and cognitive impairment.” 

CBD:THC Ratios 

While research on the interaction of CBD and THC is extensive, there is a lack of scientific information regarding the varied effects of specific CBD:THC ratios. However, anecdotal evidence points to—and many marijuana information resources agree—that higher CBD levels result in the consumer feeling less “high.” 

In addition to potentially mitigating the anxiety effect or reducing the psychoactive effect of THC, balanced ratio products may also aid in reducing short-term memory impairment and increasing alertness, according to Leafly, one of the leading websites for cannabis information. 

Due to the aforementioned lack of scientific information on different CBD:THC ratios, consumers are left to use trial-and-error as a means of working out which ratio is best for them. Common CBD:THC ratios on the shelves right now include 18:1, 8:1, 4:1, 2:1 and 1:1. Many resources suggest starting low and taking it slow. 

How CBD/THC Synergy Works 

Made up of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, the endocannabinoid system controls a variety of physiological functions. THC and CBD interact with the system through its CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC specifically targets the CB1 receptor, which is reported to be involved in behaviors such as movement, sensory learning, analgesia, anxiety, and appetite, among others. 

CBD works in synergy with THC to diminish negative effects by blocking the THC from interacting with the CB1 receptor. Leafly illustrates this process with a household analogy: “Think of it like an electrical plug connecting to a wall socket. A THC molecule is perfectly shaped to connect with CB1 receptors,” writes the deputy editor Bruce Barcott. “CBD, by contrast, is not a good fit with CB1 receptors. … It acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of a cannabinoid like THC.”