Selecting quality cannabis products takes some time and careful consideration. Knowing what is in the products you choose is important. Knowing how much of each of those ingredients or components is in a product - not just the amount but also the ratio of one key ingredient to another - is also key to anticipating the potential effects that product may produce.
When we’re talking about cannabis products, the term “ratio” typically refers to the ratio of CBD to THC. These types of ratios can be expressed as CBD:THC (the amount of CBD versus THC).
As we discussed in “The Entourage or Ensemble Effect”, the relationship between THC and CBD is interesting because it is both complementary and antagonistic meaning they both work together in some ways, but in other ways, they work “against” one another - or at least modify the effects of the other.
An example of one way CBD could work “against” THC is by affecting the way THC binds to the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptor in the brain and other parts of the body including the central nervous system. CBD can have a tempering effect on THC, that is, make it less powerful in its effects.1 2 3 An example of working “with” one another is that THC and CBD, in combination, could have an even greater anti-inflammatory potential versus CBD alone. 2 3
Here are some examples of ratios and what those ratios could mean:
18:1 - 18 parts CBD to 1 part THC. With a higher CBD content compared to the THC content, this ratio tends not to be overly psychoactive and can be a good starting point for someone new to CBD or THC.
8:1 - 8 parts CBD to 1 part THC which is more of a mid-range amount of CBD. Again, the CBD content dominates the THC content for a tempering effect that minimizes overt psychoactivity.
4:1 - 4 parts CBD to 1 part THC. This ratio still has a CBD content higher than the THC, which is in the mid-range, but the THC will produce some more pronounced psychoactive effects.
2:1 - 2 parts CBD to 1 part THC. There could be more overt psychoactivity depending on a person’s THC tolerance level since this ratio is a little more equal, with less CBD to temper the THC.
1:1 - 1 part CBD to 1 part THC. While this ratio looks the most balanced, it will actually produce more of an overall psychoactivity and may be better suited for a person with a higher tolerance to THC.
Some research has shown that THC can have an analgesic quality for certain types of pain, so to reach that type of effect, a higher THC concentration may be necessary.4 If inflammation is an issue, more CBD could help produce the desired effect.5 More CBD and less THC could be helpful in avoiding a strong psychoactive effect.6
Picking the right ratio is an individual thing - no two people’s bodies or brains (or endocannabinoid systems) are alike. If a person is a novice, a reasonable place to start is at the ratio with the highest amount of CBD versus the THC content. Over time, easing into trying ratios with higher THC will, inevitably, produce different effects but how strong is to be determined person to person.
- Changes in Cannabis Potency over the Last Two Decades (1995-2014) - Analysis of Current Data in the United States (Biol Psychiatry) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4987131/
- Cannabis study reveals how CBD offsets the psychiatric side-effects of THC (University of Western Ontario) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190930131115.htm
- The United Chemicals of Cannabis: Beneficial Effects of Cannabis Phytochemicals on the Brain and Cognition (Recent Advances in Cannabinoid Research) https://www.intechopen.com/books/recent-advances-in-cannabinoid-research…
- The analgesic effect of oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), morphine, and a THC-morphine combination in healthy subjects under experimental pain conditions (Pain) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5dab51c52920995e635d4295/t/5e14c7…
- Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: A review of their effects on inflammation (Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272373349_Cannabidiol_CBD_and_i…
- Cannabidiol interferes with the effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in man (European Journal of Pharmacology) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0014299974901290