Understanding Cannabinoids

Cannabis has long been known for two main cannabinoids: CBD and THC. Scientists now believe there could be over 100 different types of cannabinoids. These cannabinoids aren’t found in any other plant and have a unique ability to positively interact with the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors. While additional research needs to be conducted, scientists have already discovered many compelling cannabinoid properties.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more well-known cannabinoids:

CANNABIDIOL: CBD

Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is one of the most plentiful compounds in the cannabis plant. If you’ve not heard the term “nonpsychoactive” before, the quick explanation is that you can’t get high off of CBD.

This particular cannabinoid offers many health benefits without the drawbacks of psychoactive THC. A few conditions that CBD is beneficial for include: schizophrenia, epilepsy, and certain forms of cancer. More research needs to occur, but there’s hope that CBD’s will help with chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. Some scientists believe CBD will play an important role inhibiting THC from binding to an important cannabinoid receptor in the brain called CB1. This will lessen the “high” consumers experience with THC and enhance THC’s medicinal benefits.

Although more research is needed, current studies suggest CBD actually works better in synergy with other cannabinoids and terpenes. This is commonly called the “entourage effect.”

TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL: THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you “high”, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There’s evidence that suggests that THC helps medical conditions when used in the proper doses. For example, THC has a powerful pain-relieving effect, which will help many people suffering from extreme pain conditions such as cancer.

Recent studies show that THC will reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients and help chemo patients with poor appetite. Interestingly, CBD oil was found to have the exact opposite effect on glaucoma patients, which proves that different cannabinoids need to be used for different conditions.

Since THC is highly regulated, it’s difficult for doctors to understand the benefits and drawbacks of using this cannabinoid without scientific research. As medical marijuana becomes more common, scientists won’t be able to ignore this abundant compound.

CANNABICHROMEN: CBC

Although less studied than other cannabinoids, Cannabichromen has shown potential as a treatment for numerous conditions, particularly chronic pain. Studies on CBC’s effect on the human body looked into the cannabinoid’s ability to block the perception of pain. A study out of the Second University of Naples, in 2017, found that CBC in combination with CBD decreased pain signals in a group of mice.

Another study looking into the same issue discovered CBC combined with THC had a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on mice. While nearly all press on CBC is related to chronic pain, many doctors believe that’s only the beginning of CBC’s healing potential. Other studies looking into CBC have suggested this cannabinoid may repair brain damage, get rid of acne, and even improve mental health conditions.

CANNABINOL: CBN

Cannabinol is a fascinating cannabinoid, as it’s only created after THC deteriorates in the cannabis. Meaning you’ll only find high quantities of CBN on plants that have been exposed to oxygen for longer periods of time. This was enough to make CBN undesirable in the past. However, recent findings have generated a whole new discussion concerning this lesser known cannabinoid.

We still have a lot more to learn about how CBN works, but thus far it seems to attach to the brain’s CB2 receptors. Researchers are most interested in CBN for the potential to treat sleeping disorders, such as insomnia. Current research suggests CBN works as a powerful, yet natural sedative. A study by Steep Hill Labs claimed that 2.5-5mg of CBN has the same effect as a 5-10 mg dose of the pharmaceutical: Diazepam. This initial research sparked interest in CBN, which was previously ignored by the cannabis industry due to the fact that it was mostly found in older cannabis plants.

CANNABIGEROL: CBG

Cannabigerol is the forerunner of both THC and CBD. Despite this, CBG is typically ignored as it only makes up roughly 1% of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. This just isn’t enough to make it worthwhile to some growers. That said, there is a growing community of cannabis growers who work on breeding plants that will yield a higher percentage of CBG.

Many in the medical cannabis industry believe this particular compound could help with a wide variety of issues ranging from eye disease to digestive disorders. A Polish study showed promising results for CBG’s ability to reduce eye pressure in patients with glaucoma. Additional conditions that CBG seems to help with are: colorectal cancer, irritable bowel disease, and bladder issues like interstitial cystitis.

CANNABINOIDS: MORE TO COME

When people talk about cannabinoids, they usually focus on CBD and THC. While these two are unquestionably important, they aren’t the only cannabinoids worth exploring. With additional research, researchers will likely uncover the best ways to use these and additional cannabinoids to help ease the suffering of countless patients. With changes in the 2018 Farm Bill, we look forward to growth in the hemp industry which will result in more research.

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