The 9 Major Cannabinoids and Their Benefits
THC is the best-known of all the phytocannabinoids, and it is one of the few that has psychoactive properties. It is the only one that exists in a concentration high enough in the dried marijuana plant to enable a patient to experience a “high” when ingested. This is what recreational users are looking for and what makes the plant so popular with them. It binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and immune system by stimulating the release of dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical produced by our bodies. It affects mood, memory, perception, thought, and movement. THC has many therapeutic applications for patients due to these effects on our psychological state. It is also effective in fighting cancer as well as the side effects of chemo and radiation such as nausea, pain, and loss of appetite.
CBD can likely be viewed as the most medically significant cannabinoid. It has been extensively researched for its beneficial properties. It affects CB2 receptors which are found in the body’s immune system. Not only is it non-psychoactive, but it also counteracts some of the mind-altering effects of THC. It is used to treat anxiety and other psychiatric conditions, pain, seizure disorder, muscle spasms, tumors, inflammation, and it protects the nervous system. In addition, it can be used in conjunction with THC to treat nausea, pain and cancer. Since most CBD oil is currently sourced from hemp plants, it is legal to buy and use in all 50 states. CBD oil extracted from marijuana plants is only available in states that have legal medical and/or recreational cannabis since it can contain more than just trace amounts of THC.
CBG is produced as cannabis grows but only exists in small quantities in mature plants. It turns into other cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, and is sometimes referred to as a “mother” or “stem cell” cannabinoid. It is non-psychoactive before converting to other forms and has shown much promise in treating cancer, glaucoma, pain, inflammation, anxiety, and bowel/bladder problems. Scientists are learning how to determine what causes CBG to change into the various cannabinoids; this is helping them develop high-THC or high-CBD strains.
CBN is the only cannabinoid that doesn’t originate with CBG. Instead, it is formed as THC degrades. In addition to being a sign that your cannabis is going bad, it has medical applications including use as a sedative, pain reducer, and antibiotic.
CBC is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has been found to be extremely beneficial in working with THC as an anti-inflammatory drug due to the “ensemble effect,” where two or more cannabinoids working together exert an enhanced effect. CBC has also been found to stimulate bone growth and inhibit tumor growth as well as containing antibiotic and antifungal properties. It is unique because it is the only cannabinoid that interacts with receptors outside the endocannabinoid system.
THCV is only found in some strains of cannabis, unlike THC. It acts on both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Its effects include appetite suppression, promotion of bone growth, and the reduction of anxiety. It does have psychoactive properties, but they are significantly less than those of THC.
△-8-THC, or Delta-8-THC, is also a less-psychoactive cannabinoid. It possesses the ability to kill cancer cells, reduce the size of tumors, stimulate the appetite, and functions well to prevent vomiting, especially when associated with chemotherapy. It is particularly helpful in decreasing the side effects of chemo and radiation.
CBDV is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid. As another example of the ensemble effect, it heightens the anti-seizure effects of CBD as well as showing promise in preventing or decreasing the frequency and severity of nausea and vomiting. Unfortunately, it is found in very small quantities in most cannabis plants, with the highest levels being found in certain Indica strains grown in the Himalayas.
THCA and CBDA are the acidic variations of THC and CBD. These are released via decarboxylation, or exposure to low heat (THCA 220°F, CBDA 248°F). At home, decarboxylation is most often accomplished by putting the raw flower in the oven on a low temperature for several hours in order to bring it to a temperature where THC and CBD are converted to their active form. This process changes the chemicals into a form that can be utilized by the body. THCA in its raw form is effective as an anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medication, while CBDA has shown promise in cancer treatment.