THC and the Cannabinoid Profile: Higher THC Percentages Don’t Necessarily Indicate Effectiveness

Medical Information

These days, patients routinely request whichever strain we have with the highest THC reading, while levels of anxiety in American adults are skyrocketing. We tend to think of CBD as the “painkilling ingredient” in cannabis, but it is also an antipsychotic agent that can positively affect a patient’s mood. Of course patients are free to choose whichever strain they like, but taking a look at the proportions between THC and CBD tells us that a high percentage of THC isn’t necessarily what every patient needs in order to find relief.

moscow-bluberry1_0[1]What does it mean when we say a strain has 18.2% THC and 0.5% CBD?

It means that of all the cannabinoids present in the sample, 18.2% of them are THC and 0.5% of them are CBD. Sometimes two samples of cannabis can have the same numbers, but the samples could affect you differently because one has higher levels of cannabinoids overall. It could also have a higher level of one or more of the 84 or so cannabinoids that are *not* THC or CBD. A 15% THC indica flower could produce better relief for insomnia patients than a 23% THC indica flower based on a higher percentage of the terpene a-Pinene. This is because a-Pinene is a stress relieving compound that promotes sleep. Some patients find that a strain that has THC and CBD readings that are nearly equal, as seen in some high-CBD strains, provides them the most relief. Basically, all our bodies and brains are unique; high THC and low CBD won’t work optimally for everyone. Experiment and pay attention to the proportions between THC and CBD; you could start with a high CBD strain like CBD Critical Mass that has almost equal THC and CBD percentages and go from there.
CBD has medicinal value that THC doesn’t, so a lot of patients are missing out on a crucial part of what cannabis can offer because of low CBD content that sometimes goes unnoticed. The same goes for other cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’re seeing a sativa strain with a THC level of 24%, check the percentage of CBD as well. If it’s very low compared to the THC, the strain could be less effective than a patient needs for pain and could provoke an unpleasant reaction in patients who deal with anxiety, but a terpene could also be the culprit: perhaps the level of CBG-V, which produces euphoria in most patients, is high enough to cause a person with anxiety to feel uncomfortably sped up, or cause heart palpitations. Linalool and limonene are terpenes that function as antidepressants; wouldn’t it be great if we could see those levels?


If THC was all that mattered, one strain would produce relief in the majority of patients who were treating a similar ailment. Patient demand for ever higher THC percentages based on the idea that THC is all that matters has led some producers to ignore waning CBD levels, decreasing the painkilling power of their cannabis. By striving for ever higher THC levels, while not paying attention to the many other naturally occurring beneficial cannabinoids, some cannabis producers could end up breeding out desirable effects that offer relief to smaller numbers of patients. By buying cannabis from a producer who does terpene testing, patients could eventually have the ability to choose strains to (for example) relieve the pain of fibromyalgia while also providing a mood lift, but not causing increased appetite. Cannaceutics has plans for more extensive cannabinoid testing, and in the future we hope to also test for specific terpene levels, so our patients can hone in on which strains are perfect for their symptoms.

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