Cannabinoids are natural compounds produced by the marijuana plant. If you’re a cannabis user, you’re probably familiar with at least two of them: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). When you smoke weed or consume edibles, these cannabinoids cross over the blood-brain barrier and bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body. This process is what makes you feel high — and how you can experience marijuana’s medicinal benefits.
There are over one hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC makes you high, but what do all these other cannabinoids do? When isolated, these compounds each produce a unique effect; and when they interact with one another, these results can be amplified.
Types of Cannabinoids
Wholesale CBD companies like Hempshire use liquid chromatography to test cannabis for the following compounds:
Tetrahydrocannabinol – THC
As far as cannabinoids go, THC is the star of the show. This psychoactive compound alters perception, enhances mood, and is the whole reason that smoking weed gets you high. THC also has a wide range of medical uses, and is often used to treat pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and other symptoms or disorders.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin – THCV
The chemical structure of THCV differs only slightly from that of THC, but the effects are almost the exact opposite. THCV is a cannabinoid receptor type 1 antagonist. When it binds with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, it dampens and blocks the effects rather than activating them. Basically, THCV makes it more difficult to get high. This occurs because the compound is a ‘homolog’ of THC — structured with a 3-carbon propyl instead of a 5-carbon pentyl. Some experts believe THCV could be used to combat type 2 diabetes and other disorders associated with obesity-related glucose intolerance.
Cannabidiol – CBD
Aside from THC, CBD is the most well-known and the most sought-after cannabinoid. This non-psychoactive compound is highly regarded for its medicinal properties. CBD can alleviate the symptoms of many serious conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, and many others. Since this compound does not get you high, it can be isolated and used to benefit children, pets, and non-using adults.
Cannabidivarin – CBDV
CBDV is a homolog of CBD; this causes the compound to be two methylene bridges shorter than its counterpart. The difference in chemical structure doesn’t alter the effects drastically though — much like CBD, CBDV is also incredibly valuable to the medical community. British company GW Pharmaceuticals is actively developing CBDV products that treat epilepsy and convulsions in both adults and children.
Cannabigerol – CBG
As the cannabis plant grows, most of the CBG that it produces is converted into THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. By the time the marijuana plant is fully grown, it typically consists of less than 1% CBG. Research on this compound has been limited to studies on rodents and in vitro, so the medical and pharmaceutical benefits are largely undiscovered. It is believed that CBG has antibacterial properties, so experts are hopeful that it could be used to reduce inflammation and bacterial growth.
Cannabichromene – CBC
CBC is non-psychoactive and does not bind with the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain that produce a high; instead, CBC binds with TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors that are responsible for pain perception. This compound is great at reducing pain and inflammation. Additionally, CBC has antidepressant properties and promotes cell survival, making it a powerful potential treatment for cancer.
Cannabinol – CBN
The medicinal uses for CBN are impressively extensive. This compound promotes bone cell growth, stimulates appetite, and provides relief for pain, inflammation, insomnia, and convulsions. CBN is produced from degraded THCA, so this cannabinoid is most commonly found in aged or oxidized cannabis products.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid – THCA
THCA is non-intoxicating, even though it is the precursor to THC. This compound is found in abundance in fresh marijuana, but begins to turn into THC when the plant is dried or exposed to heat. For this reason, THCA is rarely found in edibles, but is often a major component of hash oil and other cannabis resin concentrates. Although research has been limited, the potential medical benefits of this cannabinoid are exciting. THCA shows promising results for combating inflammation, appetite loss, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Cannabidiolic Acid – CBDA
CBDA is a cannabinoid that transforms into CBD through a process called decarboxylation. Even before CBDA goes through this change, it possesses many medical benefits. This compound may be capable of reducing inflammation, vomiting, and tumor growth.
Cannabigerolic Acid – CBGA
CBGA is instrumental not only in the production of CBG, but also of THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. For this reason, CBGA is sometimes referred to as a cannabinoid ‘stem cell’. Without CBGA, we wouldn’t have THC or CBD. The primary function of CBGA is to create other cannabinoids, but there are some exciting medical uses as well. This compound has antibacterial properties and is effective at reducing pain.
Cannabinoids are fascinating natural compounds that can open our mind to new perspectives and free our body from illnesses and aches. While there’s still more research to do, the potential is endless and exciting. Each cannabinoid is unique, and can offer wonderful benefits whether taken isolated or combined.