Does CBD Reduce THC Side Effects?
Updated: Mar 2
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A 2022 study entitled "Does Cannabidiol Make Cannabis Safer? A Randomised, Double-blind, Cross-over Trial of Cannabis with Four Different CBD:THC Ratios" that was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology explored if increasing the CBD content of cannabis might reduce the potentially negative side effects that sometimes accompany tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC can sometimes deliver negative outcomes for some users—especially novice consumers who consume relatively large doses—including disorientation, confusion, discomfort, and even panic attacks and paranoia. Sister cannabinoid CBD has gained the reputation for being able to squelch these negative symptoms. But is this truly in the wheelhouse of CBD, one of the two most popular cannabinoids produced by cannabis and hemp.
The design of this study was that of a randomized and double-blind clinical trial involving forty-six human participants and conducted at the NIHR Welcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at King’s College Hospital in London, UK.
THC can sometimes deliver negative outcomes for some users—especially novice consumers who consume relatively large doses—including disorientation, confusion, discomfort, and even panic attacks and paranoia.
The participants, aged 21 to 50, had all used cannabis at least once in their lives, but had not used it more than one time per week over the past 12 months. To qualify for the study, the participants could not have consumed synthetic cannabinoids or have a substance use disorder.
Study participants were provided "granulated cannabis inflorescence [ground flowers] soured from Bedrocan BV in the Netherlands. Each dose consisted of 10 mg THC accompanied by either 0 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, or 30 mg of CBD. "Participants were given preparations with CBD:THC ratios of 0:1, 1:1, 2:1, and 3:1, in a random order across visits. The loose-leaf cannabis flowers obtained from Bedrocan BV included Bedrocan (23 percent THC and 0.1 percent CBD), Bedrolite (8 percent CBD, 0.3 percent THC), and Bedrocan placebo (<0.01 percent THC).
The cannabis preparations were administered with a Storz-Bickel desktop Volcano vaporizer model. Each dose was vaporized at 410° F (210° C) ("this temperature has been found to maximise cannabinoid delivery," reported the study's authors).
"At the doses typically present in recreational and medicinal cannabis, we found no evidence of CBD reducing the acute adverse effects of THC on cognition and mental health."
Because the researchers found that higher CBD:THC ratios produced a more dense vapor cloud, they encased the transparent bags used to collect the vapor on the Volcano vaporizers with opaque bags to ensure that participants would be unaware of which preparation formulation they were receiving. Participants emptied two bags from the Volcano.
"At the doses typically present in recreational and medicinal cannabis, we found no evidence of CBD reducing the acute adverse effects of THC on cognition and mental health. Similarly, there was no evidence that it altered the subjective or pleasurable effects of THC.
"These results suggest that the CBD content in cannabis may not be a critical consideration in decisions about its regulation or the definition of a standard THC unit. The data are also relevant to the safety of licensed medicines that contain THC and CBD, as they suggest that the presence of CBD may not reduce the risk of adverse effects from the THC they contain.
"Cannabis users may reduce harms when using a higher CBD:THC ratio, due to the reduced THC exposure rather than the presence of CBD. Further studies are needed to determine if cannabis with even higher ratios of CBD:THC may protect against its adverse effects."
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