Many cannabis users may have heard the term cannabinoid before without knowing what it is or what it really means. In short, cannabinoids are chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant that interact with different receptors located all over our body to produce an effect. These receptors that the cannabinoids are interacting with belong to our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that helps maintain our body's homeostasis. So yes, humans were made to consume cannabis! Within the human body there are two different cannabinoid receptors, CB-1 and CB-2. CB-1 are receptors that are located within the brain and throughout the body whereas CB-2 receptors are mostly found in the immune and gastrointestinal systems.
With over 100 different cannabinoids, each cannabinoid is slightly different and provides different effects and benefits to the consumer.
These chemical compounds within the cannabis plant have been proven to provide significant health benefits to users. Some of these cannabinoids have the ability to reduce and shrink cancerous tumours, reduce or eliminate seizures, reduce pain, help with sleep and much more.
Before we jump into some examples of different cannabinoids and their benefits it’s important to understand how cannabinoids are synthesized. This is important as cannabinoids in acidic form have different effects then when they are in non acidic forms. All cannabinoids begin as an acid and undergo the process of decarboxylation to produce its non-acidic form.
So what is the difference between the acidic cannabinoid and the non-acidic cannabinoid after decarboxylation? Let's use THCA converting to THC as an example and discuss further what THCA actually is.
What is THCA?
As many cannabis consumers know of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, many may not have heard of THCA, also known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. THCA is the precursor for THC and is a cannabinoid found in raw or live cannabis without going through the process of decarboxylation.
THCA has many different properties than THC, the most noticeable being that THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is found in raw cannabis. Then throughout the decarboxylation process the THCA is being converted into a psychoactive cannabinoid called THC by removing an acidic carbonyl group.
Just like this process with THCA to THC, all cannabinoids start off in an acidic version and then transition into their non-acidic form when heat is applied by smoking or vaping, or when going through the process of decarboxylation.
Now let's take a look at some cannabinoids and each of their benefits.
Common Cannabinoids and Their Benefits
THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
Recall from above that THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and is more present in raw cannabis than in cannabis that has gone through the decarboxylation process. Due to this, it’s quite popular to juice raw cannabis plants to get the benefits of THCA.
THCA possesses most of the same therapeutic benefits as THC without the high. Some of these benefits include neuroprotective properties for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases by slowing damage to the brain and nervous system. Other benefits include anti-inflammatory properties that aid in treatment for conditions such as arthritis or lupus and have antiemetic properties to help treat nausea. THCA also helps reduce pain, aids with sleep, stimulates appetite, suppresses muscle spasms and helps to modulate the immune system. In studies regarding prostate cancer, THCA has also shown anti-proliferation properties that inhibit cancer cell growth.
CBDA (cannabidiolic acid)
CBDA is the precursor for the cannabinoid CBD. Unlike THC and THCA where one has an psychoactive effect, both CBD and CBDA are non-psychoactive cannabinoids. This means that you won't feel the “high” effect.
Researchers found that CBDA has a similar structure to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen and found that it actually works the same way! As CBDA has benefits such as anti-inflammatory it also can be used to treat anxiety and nausea. Interestingly, CBDA is more than a thousand times more effective than CBD at activating serotonin receptors that work to reduce anxiety and nausea. Additionally, for chemotherapy patients who are using ondansetron (OND) to treat nausea it’s found that use of CBDA concurrently is even more effective.
THC (delta 8-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol)
Many individuals have heard of the cannabinoid THC before, but the new talk is around delta 8 and delta 9 THC. At first you might be asking yourself what is the difference between delta 9 and delta 8 THC? The answer is the location of the double between carbons, for example delta 8 has a double bond on its eighth carbon when delta 9 has it on its ninth carbon. The main difference in effects is that delta 8 THC is slightly less psychoactive and stimulates a better appetite than delta 9 THC.
Overall the benefits of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol includes many of the same benefits as THCA. Such as being an antineoplastic, antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-nausea, appetite stimulant and a sleep aid that is helpful for consumers suffering with insomnia.
Interestingly, when THC breaks down over time after exposure to oxygen, UV light or heat it further converts to a different cannabinoid called cannabinol or CBN.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a very well known cannabinoid and studies have shown that when consuming CBD and THC together they have better effects then when taken individually.
CBD provides great benefits to the consumer and can be used to treat conditions such as inflammation, migraines, autoimmune diseases, depression, anxiety and epilepsy. In 2018, the FDA approved a drug called Epidiolex that contains CBD to treat various kinds of epilepsy. CBD also has very promising studies that help to treat multiple anxiety disorders.
CBD oil is becoming more popular and is commonly used as a treatment for pain management.
CBG, or cannabigerol is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid and is often found in less than one percent of all compounds found in cannabis strains but is very valuable for its health benefits. CBGA, CBG’s acidic precursor is often referred to as the “mother” or “stem cell” cannabinoid as it’s a precursor to the three major branches of cannabinoids: THCA, CBDA and CBCA
You may have heard of the CBG flower, which is a hemp or cannabis bud that has been specially bred to contain higher amounts of the CBG cannabinoid. As of now there aren't many high concentrations of CBG strains but you can definitely count on breeders to change this for the future.
CBG is a great cannabinoid for medicinal purposes. Studies have shown that CBG helps with inflammation, pain, nausea, and appetite. Due to CBG anti-inflammatory properties it has been shown to be effective in treating Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases. It’s ability to improve the users appetite is often used to help late stage cancer sufferers with cachexia.
CBG also helps in treatments for cancer, glaucoma, Huntington’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), cachexia, anorexia, depression, epilepsy, psoriasis and bladder dysfunctions. It’s thought that CBG acts as an inhibitor for cancer cell growth which helps to slow down cancer growth. Other studies found that CBG helps to improve the fluid drainage in the eyes which allows for more oxygen rich blood to reach the eye and reduces eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Additionally, in some mice studies it was found that CBG helps to protect neurons suffering from Huntingtons and MS.
CBG as well as CBD is known to interfere with and reduce the effects of THC.
CBC, or cannabichromene has a wide range of benefits including antimicrobial, anti-viral, analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-inflammation, stimulates brain growth and is a successful treatment for migraines.
Studies in mice show that CBC may be effective in inhibiting tumour growth and inflammation. CBC has been shown in collagen-induced osteoarthritis to block pain and inflammation, however, CBC doesn't act like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) do and also doesn’t include the side effects of those medications. Other studies show that CBC acts as a very strong inhibitor of acne.
As CBC has its individual benefits, there is a term called “the entourage effect” meaning that some compounds may change when in the presence of other compounds. A well known example of this is how well THC and CBD work together for optimal effects. Researchers believe that CBC works in concert with other cannabinoids.
CBN, or cannabinol is a cannabinoid with little to no psychoactive effects, and is found to be in higher concentrations in indica strains than in sativa strains. Interestingly, CBN is what THC breaks down into over a duration of time after exposure to oxygen, UV light or heat.
However, CBN effects are some of the strongest in all cannabinoids! For example, CBN is the most potent cannabinoid for the promotion of sleep making it a great treatment for insomnia.
Other benefits of CBN include analgesic to relieve pain, a bone stimulant to promote growth, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, antiemetic, anti-proliferative to inhibit cancer growth and an appetite stimulant.
Like most cannabinoids, CBGV, or cannabigerivarin produces no psychoactive effects when consumed. However CBGV is one of the most beneficial medicinal cannabinoids. Research has shown that CBGV helps the body's cell receptors to more readily accept and utilize both THC and helps enhance CBD metabolism when consumed. Thus making THC and CBD more potent when consumed with CBGV.
Other benefits of CBGV include analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties making it effective treatment for fibromyalgia and arthritis. As many cannabinoids have been seen to improve the quality of skin, CBGV has an unique property that improves and possibly cures many dry-skin conditions.
THCV, or tetrahydrocannabivarin has many effects including being psychoactive, provides energy, stimulates bone growth, is an appetite suppressant and reduces panic attacks. THCV can also help with symptoms of Alzheimer’s, helps control diabetes and has anticonvulsant properties which helps to raise the seizure threshold for individuals with epilepsy.
CBDV, or cannabidivarin is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid and is found mainly in indica strains and strains that are lower in THC content. Commonly, strains that are higher in CBD are also higher in CBDV.
Just like CBD, CBDV significantly reduces the frequency and severity of seizures. In fact most research of CBDV has been focused around its effects on seizures. Currently CBDV drugs are being developed to reduce and in some cases prevent epileptic and other forms of seizures.
However there are also many other benefits to CBDV, including reducing nausea associated with many conditions and reducing inflammation throughout the body. CBDV has also shown to be beneficial in treating pain and mood disorders.
What Benefits Do Terpenes Provide?
Terpenes, also known as isoprenoids are another powerful compound found within the cannabis plant that provide therapeutic benefits. Terpenes provide the cannabis plant with its unique aroma and every strain contains a different combination of terpenes. Similar to cannabinoids, there are over 100 different terpenes.
As mentioned before, the entourage effect that applied to THC and CBD also applies to cannabinoids and terpenes. It was found that the interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes have the ability to strengthen and improve therapeutic effects. For example, it's thought that terpenes in cannabis can work to increase the blood-brain permeability barrier and affect how THC binds to cannabinoid receptors.
Interestingly, the cannabis plant is one of the most common sources for medicinal terpenes
Some therapeutic benefits that terpenes provide include enhancing skin penetration and preventing inflammatory diseases. Other benefits of terpenes include pain relief, decreased anxiety and antidepressant properties.
Whether you consume cannabis recreationally or medically, it’s always beneficial to know the effects different cannabinoids have.
If you’re wanting to get your hands on the best bud to give you the best cannabinoids, consider using a Grobo. Grobo is an automated grow box that uses deep water culture to grow plants effectively. All you have to do is pick your plant, pick a grow recipe, and let the system take care of the rest!
Have you ever used cannabis for medicinal purposes? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear your experience!