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October 30, 2021
 min read

How to find the optimal CBD THC ratio for pain?

 Anthony Clement
Written by  
Anthony Clement
July 12, 2021

table of Contents

In order to get the best results when treating pain and inflammation, you should find the optimal CBD THC ratio for pain.

Finding the optimal CBD THC ratio for pain is very hard. We simply don't have enough data on the cannabis plant and pain management to recommend a specific dosage or ratio. So much so that we cannot even claim that cannabis products would work for pain relief.

Most of our knowledge is based on anecdotal evidence provided by the users, which is flimsy at best. Nevertheless, we have to start from somewhere.

Based on what we know, cannabinoids within medical cannabis can work for chronic pain. This is especially true of THC. However, during administration, you have to regulate THC content in order to alleviate psychoactive effects. This is where CBD comes into play.

In this article, we will go through some of the best CBD THC ratios for pain and how a specific marijuana or hemp product could work for your issue.

What are CBD and THC?

CBD and THC are the most common ingredients within cannabis strains.

CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical common for the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa). Nowadays, hemp products are legal in most countries as long as they have low THC levels. This threshold is at around 0.3% THC in the US and EU, which isn’t enough to cause intoxicating effects.

CBD is present in almost every product, whether it is derived from marijuana or hemp. High CBD strains can have more than 20% concentration of the substance.

THC is the reason why we get high when using cannabis products. If you take it in larger quantities, you will experience the "couch lock" effect, where a user is basically unable to move. THC is often mentioned as a substance that can reduce various types of pain, such as neuropathic pain. Depending on the nature of the pain, you will have to administer it internally or use a cannabis topical.

Finding the right cannabinoid ratio can be crucial for addressing this issue. While you can also get good results with a suboptimal ratio, we still recommend trying different ratios until you find one that is best for you. 

How do different THC and CBD products affect your pain?

When using various THC and CBD strains, you have the liberty of administering them in numerous ways. There are so many different products on the market, allowing you to find just the right one according to your preferences.

Sublingual products

CBD oil is the most popular item on the cannabis market. The majority of people will administer it sublingually, but you can also swallow it or use it as a CBD topical. Nowadays, a hemp based product called Epidiolex is commonly used for childhood epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. MS patients can enjoy a reduction of muscle spasms. When you use a sublingual product, it will start working after 10 to 15 minutes. While not as fast as vapes, it will still provide quick relief. The effects will last for 2 to 4 hours.

Smokable products

Smokable products will work almost instantaneously. When you take a vape product or cannabis flower, the smoke will go directly into your lungs and then into the bloodstream. Due to their speed, these products are ideal for severe acute issues such as anxiety. They last for up to 2, 3 hours.

Topical products

When you take topical items, you can expect results in 20 minutes or so. They do not enter your bloodstream, which is great for all of the people who don’t want to experience intoxicating effects. Creams and ointments are usually administered for muscle pain and inflammation. These effects will last for several hours.

Edible products

Edibles are ideal for chronic issues. For example, you can use them for chronic pain. This group includes items such as gummies, capsules, and various other foods infused with CBD or THC oil. When you ingest such a product, it will take about 30 to 60 minutes for the substance to kick in. However, the effects can last for 6 to 8 hours.

Transdermal products

Items such as patches and gels are applied on the surface of the skin, and they slowly release cannabinoids and terpenes into your surface tissue. In most cases, you will feel the effects within 20 minutes. A great thing about these items is that they will provide a continuous benefit. The impact of the medicine can be felt for 12 hours.

What does the THC CBD ratio refer to?

Sometimes, when you read a label on a cannabis product, you might notice that they mention ratios. The most common ones are 1:1, 5:1, 10:1, and 20:1.

Basically, these numbers refer to the proportion between CBD and THC. If a product is based on hemp, CBD will usually be a more dominant component. High THC ratios are common for marijuana plants. If a product is balanced, this is a good indication that a hybrid was used or that the item equally utilizes marijuana and hemp.

Where you see a 1:1 ratio, this means that CBD and THC are in a perfect balance (more or less).

A ratio of 1:0 indicates there is only CBD and no THC within a substance. In other words, this is a CBD isolate. In some cases, there might be trace amounts of THC, but they're probably negligible. Or CBD content is simply overwhelmingly high compared to THC levels. Keep in mind that CBD content can still be variable. For example, one product can have a CBD concentration of 5%, and the other one can have a concentration of 20%, and they can both have a ratio of 1:0.

Similar goes for the 0:1 percent ratio. Such an item will only have THC with no CBD. These are THC isolates that only rely on marijuana.

Products with a high CBD ratio will have a proportion of 20:1, while high THC ratio items will have a proportion of 1:20.

As the ratio increases in favor of THC, you are more likely to experience psychoactive effects. CBD works as a THC suppressant so, the more cannabidiol there is within a bottle, the less likely it is that you'll get high. Substances that have a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio in favor of CBD are unlikely to cause intoxicating effects.

Finding the optimal CBD THC ratio for pain

Although some experts mention THC as the better substance for pain relief, both of these chemicals can provide some benefits for the issue. One of the theories is that THC will be better for certain types of pain, while CBD should provide relief for others. By finding the perfect ratio of these two chemicals, you can unlock their full potential.

It is really hard to say which proportion will be best for you. There are lots of personal factors that we need to consider. However, if we were to generalize, here is how specific ratios will work for your body.

1:1 Ratio

As mentioned, this is a perfectly balanced proportion of two substances. It is a great way to treat numerous types of pain, as you will have full access to both chemicals. Users often say that these products are uplifting, and they will likely cause some psychoactive effects as well. Ideally, you should start with a smaller quantity and work your way up.

2:1, 4:1, 5:1 Ratio

You might also consider these ratios. The products have a low proportion of THC making them a bit safer than the 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind that you might still experience psychoactive effects with these products.

10:1 Ratio

Perfect products for all the people who want to avoid psychoactive effects.

20:1 Ratio

If you wish to insulate yourself from intoxicating effects, it is best to go with products that have a 20:1 ratio. These are great for inflammations.

If you simply wish to maximize the effects, perhaps it is best to go with the balanced version of the product. But, most people don't like the strong psychoactive effects, which is why they'll likely go with items that have higher CBD concentrations. As you go more into THC heavy territory, the whole experience becomes similar to smoking weed. In other words, you will get high every time, which isn't ideal for many patients.

What is the ideal product/ratio for my pain?

With all this in mind, we can consider some of the optimal solutions for countering your pain.

First off, you should consider the product category. As mentioned, chronic pain should be treated with edibles. They last for a long time, which means you won’t have to think about readministering the substance. Generally speaking, you won’t need to use gummies or capsules more than twice a day.

For severe acute pain, you will need vapes. They are really quick, and they will provide instant relief.

Muscle soreness and other types of surface muscle pain can be addressed with topicals. Furthermore, these products might be good for inflammation and arthritis. The items should work well for your joints, increasing their flexibility.

You can also experiment with different ratios. CBD and THC each have specific mechanisms of action. While they work well together, one of these compounds might have a better impact on a specific type of pain.

Lastly, you should also find the optimal dosage that would relieve the pain but wouldn't cause excessive psychoactive effects.

Hill, K., Palastro, M., Johnson, B., Ditre, J., (2017), Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review, Cannabis and cannabinoid research, New Rochelle, NY, the United States of America


Campbell, G., Hall, W., Peacock, A., Lintzeris, N., Bruno, R., Larance, B., (2018), Effect of cannabis use in people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed opioids: findings from a 4-year prospective cohort study, The Lancet Healthy Longevity