A Guide to The Most Common Cannabinoids
As with most people, you probably already have an idea about cannabinoids. That’s thanks to the ever-popular CBD or cannabidiol and its long list of potential health benefits. To enjoy such benefits you’ll need to buy the best CBD oil in the market which is made from the finest cannabis plants.
But what about the different cannabinoids? Did you know that CBD is just one of the 113 cannabinoids known to man? And is THC a cannabinoid?
That’s a lot to take in so let’s just focus on the top 10 of the most popular types of cannabinoids.
What Is A Cannabinoid?
Basically, a cannabinoid is considered as a chemical compound. In plants, some of its functions include providing protection against pests and UV rays. Some cannabinoids function to protect plants against frost.
Now, in humans, the cannabinoids our bodies produce are called endocannabinoids, and just like in plants, they also have important functions. They help regulate mood, sleep, and pain control.
When the body’s production of endocannabinoids isn’t enough, using cannabinoids from plants, particularly cannabis can help fill the gap.
The Endogenous Cannabinoid System
You really can’t talk about cannabinoids without discussing the Endogenous Cannabinoid System or Endocannabinoid System.
To start, the ECS is present in every animal. It has specialized receptors that are programmed to accept specific cannabinoids. Think of them like locks and keys.
A given receptor will only accept a particular class of compounds. It will ignore and be unaffected by others.
You can find most of these specialized receptors in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum, hypothalamus, amygdala, and putamen.
When a certain cannabinoid binds to a specific receptor, it triggers changes in the activity of a cell, its gene regulation as well as nearby cells.
There are two primary cannabinoid receptors identified- the Cannabinoid type 1 receptors and Cannabinoid type 2 receptors.
These two can be unlocked by three types of cannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are produced naturally in the body. Phytocannabinoids, on the other hand, are resent in plants like cannabis. The third one is the synthetic cannabinoids which are produced artificially.
CB1-R is involved in the coordination of movements, cognitive performance, and sensory perceptions.
CB2-R, meanwhile, can be found outside of the brain. They are located in the reproductive organs, gut, heart, kidneys, lymph cells, liver, and spleen.
An Overview of The 10 Most Common Cannabinoids
As mentioned, there’s a minimum of 113 cannabinoids known to humans. However, since scientific investigations about them are still going, there’s a good chance that more types of cannabinoids are waiting to be discovered.
In the meantime, here’s a quick overview of the most common cannabinoids.
1. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
THC is also known as Delta 9-THC. Compared with the other cannabinoids, this is probably the best-known. It’s also the most widely researched cannabinoid.
Well, that’s not surprising. It’s the one responsible for getting you that “high” feeling.
THC was first isolated in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni. However, it was only in 1988 that the link between THC and the endocannabinoid system or (ECS) was first found. The credit goes to Dr. Allyn Howlett.
He found out that THC can bind to the CB1 receptors in the human brain. The process triggers the release of dopamine which ultimately leads to feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
People who find themselves under the influence of THC may experience changes in their memory, concentration levels, and sensory perception.
Its possible effects include less anxiety, hallucinations, and paranoia, particularly if given in large doses. It also has anti-tumor properties.
2. CBD (Cannabidiol)
Taking the second spot as the most abundant cannabinoid in the marijuana plant, CBD became popular for its potential healing properties “without the high”.
Although it was first discovered sometime in 1940, it was only in 1963 that researchers were able to understand its structure.
Now, compared with THC, CBD doesn’t have the same intoxicating effects. It’s because CBD doesn’t directly affect the CB1 receptors in the brain.
As you probably already know, CBD has the potential to help treat anxiety and depression. It’s also helpful in reducing epilepsy-related seizures. Moreover, it also helps in treating chronic pain.
3. THCV (Tethrahydrocannabivarin)
Compared with THC, THCV has fewer carbon atoms. However, they do have quite a similar molecular structure.
Considering that, THCV has the potential to make you experience intoxicating effects but it’s not enough to make you get high.
One of its potential uses is in suppressing appetite. In fact, in one study published in October 2016, it was found out that THCV could help people with Type 2 diabetes to control their glycemic levels.
Apart from aiding in weight loss, THCV can also help manage symptoms of anxiety disorders like panic attacks. It can help with bone growth, too.
4. CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
This one has a similar structure to CBD which means that it lacks intoxicating effects, too.
The cannabidiol acts as a receptor and has a role in pain modulation and transmission. It’s quite well-known for having potential anti-convulsant effects.
CBDV is showing promising effects in the treatment of Rett syndrome as well as Autism Spectrum Disorder. It can also help in alleviating neuropathic pain and reducing nausea.
5. CBG (Cannabigerol)
Not a lot of people have heard about this one despite being an extremely essential cannabinoids. In case you’re wondering, it’s actually the chemical parent of CBD and THC.
In a simpler explanation, the two wouldn’t exist if there’s no CBG.
In 1970, researchers first found out about CBGA or the acidic form of CBG. Eventually, they figured that it’s a precursor of other cannabinoids.
Just like the other cannabinoid, CBG also possesses potential therapeutic benefits. Based on a study published in Neurotherapeutics, it has neuroprotective properties.
6. CBC (Cannabichromene)
CBC has quite a significant number of strains. In fact, it ranks third to the most common cannabinoid that can be found in weed.
CBC is well-known for inhibiting cancer cells, relieving pain, and promoting bone growth.
CBC possesses anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This is why it’s considered helpful in treating chronic pain.
Apart from that, it also triggers new cell growth. Research suggests that it can help reduce depression and stress, too.
7. CBN (Cannabinol)
CBD is produced when the THC in marijuana plant degrades because of exposure to light or age. This means that it’s not naturally produced. Instead, it results from the breakdown of THCA with age.
With this, the majority of people who use weed don’t find it nice to find CBN in their cannabis. Its presence signifies that it’s old and probably stale.
Now, if you want to enjoy quality sleep, that shouldn’t be a problem. You see, this cannabinoid has a sedative effect that can help you with insomnia.
Additionally, this cannabinoid is also found helpful in delaying the onset of symptoms associated with Lou Gehrig’s disease in mice. This suggests that that CBD may be valuable in treating motor neural diseases.
8. THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)
This one doesn’t possess intoxicating properties despite its name. Instead, when heated, it turns into THC. After that, it binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain and that’s when psychoactive effects are produced.
There’s very limited research about this compound. One of the most significant studies involving it was published in The British Journal of Pharmacology. It suggested that THCA helped reduce nausea and vomiting among rats.
9. CBGa (Cannabigerolic Acid)
CBGa is considered as the mother cannabinoid. It’s the precursor of the three major cannabinoid lines- CBCA, CBDA, and THCA. You can think of it as the chemical parent to CBD and THC.
With its low affinity towards CB1 receptors, it doesn’t possess intoxicating effects. Instead, research suggests that it’s helpful in reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
10. CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)
Back then, researchers thought that CBDA didn’t possess any medical benefit until it has been turned into CBD. After further research and studies, they found out that it can activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors.
Serotonin, in case you’re wondering, is considered as a neurotransmitter that helps in regulating anxiety, sleep, nausea, and mood.
As a precursor to CBD, this one is non-intoxicating as well.
As for potential health benefits, CBDA can be used as a sleep aid. It’s also helpful in managing social anxiety and nausea.
This list just barely scratched the surface in terms of discussing cannabinoids and their benefits. It’s the same with research.
You see, out of 113 cannabinoids, less than 10% have been studied and researched. Part of the reason for this is cannabis prohibition which hinders scientists and researchers from performing as many studies as possible to find out all about them.