CBD and THC: Do They Complement Each Other Like Yin and Yang?

Pharmacotherapy. 2020 Nov;40(11):1152-1165. doi: 10.1002/phar.2469.


Increased public access to cannabis calls for a deeper understanding of cannabis's constituents and how they interact to induce clinical effects. Whereas trans-Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is considered the main psychoactive component in cannabis, producing the associated "high" or "euphoria," various findings demonstrate medical potential for cannabidiol (CBD), from anxiolytic to antiepileptic implications. This has translated into a public optimism and given way to the popular opinion that CBD can provide countless other therapeutic benefits, including the potential to mitigate some of the adverse side effects of THC, such as intoxication, psychomotor impairment, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms. This is particularly relevant for patients seeking to garner therapeutic benefits from cannabis without experiencing the burden of a significant subjective high. Thus, this article analyzes the scientific evidence available to support or disprove the idea that presence of CBD is beneficial and can exude a protective effect against THC. A thorough review of relevant literature, a basis from which to interpret such evidence through a critical mechanistic discussion, and the implications for patients are presented in this article.

Keywords: cannabidiol; cannabinoids; cannabis; intoxication; marijuana; medical marijuana; psychosis; subjective effects; trans-δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dronabinol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans


  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol