Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. These compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human body, which regulates various psychological processes, including pain, inflammation, appetite, learning and emotions.
There are over 100 different cannabis compounds, we bring you top seven that everyone is talking about.
What do Mandy Moore’s favourite foot cream, cocktails, and Dakota Johnson-approved sleep aids have in common? It’s CBD — the component of cannabis that some users say makes them feel mellow, without any high.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of more than 100 chemical components found in the cannabis plant.
CBD and other cannabinoids are made and stored in the tiny, clear hairs that stick out from the flowers and leaves of a cannabis plant, which are called trichomes. These little clear hairs are attached to the flowers and leaves of the plant. Both CBD and THC, the cannabinoid that causes a high, can effect how cells in the brain and body behave and communicate with each other.
CBC doesn’t cause a high, instead, it’s often touted as having a mellowing effect and for having some anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties.
While the health benefits associated with CBD use have been well-researched and publicized, not much is known about the component from which it’s derived: CBDA (cannabidiolic-acid), a non-psychoactive compound.
If consuming raw cannabis is on one’s wish list, CBDA could offer a lot.
“CBDA is a parent to CBD,” explains Dr. Rohini Patel, product owner at CB2 Insights, a Toronto-based cannabis data company. While CBD doesn’t exist in the plant, it is created when CBDA is heated through decarboxylation, a process that converts the non-psychoactive cannabinoids to intoxicating compounds.
The “A” in CBDA stands for acid, and is made up of “hydrogen and carbon molecules that inhibit absorption through oral consumption (eating),” explains Michael Kushbury, a cannabis educator at The Education Station.
“CBN is one of the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant after THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD,” says Michele Ross, Ph.D., a neuroscientist who worked in the cannabis research field since 2006 and is founder of Infused Health.
“[CBN] is a degradation product of THC,” adds Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D., chief scientist at Mary’s Medicinals, which produces its own CBN products. “The plant itself doesn’t make very much of it, if any, [but] over time, as THC is exposed to temperatures and sunlight, THC itself will degrade into CBN,” Riggle explains. This degradation process as THC is exposed to oxygen is called oxidation.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. iStock / Getty Images Plus
Since CBN is created as cannabis ages, it has typically been associated with old or poorly stored cannabis in the past. In fact, CBN was found through laboratory testing to be the most present cannabinoid in perfectly preserved cannabis found in a 2,700-year-old Chinese shaman tomb.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can help treat multiple medical conditions, diseases, and illnesses.
Cannabinoids are a diverse class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in the human body. Among the 500 or so natural components in cannabis, more than 100 are classified as phytocannabinoids.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the best-known compound due to its psychoactive qualities, while cannabidiol (CBD) appears to play the most significant role in the plant’s medicinal benefits. Other key phytocannabinoids include cannabigerols (CBG), cannabichromenes (CBC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabinodiol (CBL).
Very little research has been done on the lesser-known components of the cannabis plant and it is hard to foresee their potential benefits.
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabis’ most popular cannabinoid, is still the most well known of the plant’s components. It’s the reason we feel elevated, lifted, high, however, you classify it, it’s what gets us in a different headspace. THC can be so potent, especially when dabbing or eating edibles, that a bad trip can manifest and that pleasant high can go right down the tubes.
So what does THC do, aside from feeling really good? A myriad of medicinal usages have been discovered either anecdotally or via studies, and they seriously count. For example, did you know that THC stimulates brain cells and even grows new ones? It turns out that in the hippocampus both CBD and THC stimulate growth via CB1 receptors, where they fit into our biological makeup like the perfect puzzle piece – because they are!
While there has been a lot of discussion in the literature, both lay and scientific, about the properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotectant, there are significant problems with CBD in reality. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A) is another cannabinoid (cannabis-derived medication) that has yet to get the attention it truly deserves. THC-A presents an option that is similar to CBD but better!
THC-A is a potent antioxidant. As a result, there may be some rationale for using it as a neuroprotectant in diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and similar. This has NOT yet been tested in humans, but the theory is reasonable.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV for short is a cannabinoid that contains various medicinal properties that users can benefit from, and as time goes on, more medicinal properties are being revealed.
To many, THCV may seem very similar to THC based on how it sounds and how it looks. Although THC and THCV have some similarities, they are also very different, especially regarding the effects they deliver to cannabis users. How is THCV similar to THC, though? For one, these cannabinoids are very similar in regards to their chemical structure. Whereas, the process of creating these two cannabinoids is quite different.
In other words, THCV undergoes a process that results in it becoming a cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA). Then, CBGVA breaks down into tetrahydrocannabivarin carboxylic acid (THCVA). From here, THCVA can undergo a decarboxylation process in which UV light or heat is used to create THCV.