Cannabis produces many different compounds known as cannabinoids; some of which haven’t been detected in any other plant.
Cannabinoids are a rather complex field of study. One of the main questions that scientists want to answer is what each cannabinoid in the cannabis plant does. Most of us already know that marijuana offers phenomenal health benefits, but we don’t understand the cannabinoid profiles. We would need to dedicate many years of advanced research to really dig into the complete biochemistry of the plant.
If this all sounds too overwhelming, fear not! We are here to give you a complete beginner’s guide on all things cannabinoids, including what they are, what they do and very importantly, the health benefits of each.
Cannabinoids are the most important chemicals found in marijuana. While there are over 480 natural components held in the cannabis plant, it’s the cannabinoids that give the plant its medical and recreational properties.
Here are some of the most popular:
Cannabigerol (CBG) - All classes of cannabinoids are derived from CBG. During plant growth, most of the CBG is converted into other cannabinoids, primarily CBD or THC, leaving about 1% cannabigerol in the plant.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - THC is the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis and responsible for making us feel "high." It is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) - THCA is a precursor of THC. The decarboxylation of this compound by heat is essential for the psychoactive effect of smoked cannabis.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) - THCV is similar to THC in molecular structure, but provides a variety different effects. It’s known to supress appetite, appears to reduce panic attacks, and reduce muscular tremors associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cannabidiol (CBD) - CBD is non-intoxicating and is typically the second-most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. It is best known for its healing properties used to control pain, inflammation, anxiety, or other chronic conditions.
Cannabinol (CBN) - CBN is a mildly intoxicating cannabinoid that’s mostly found in aged cannabis. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBN isn’t derived from CBG. It’s actually a degraded product of THCA. It tends to give people the sensation of couch-lock.
Cannabichromene (CBC) - CBC is one of the lesser-known non-intoxicating cannabinoids found in the plant. In spite of this, CBC is actually the third most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis.
Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8 THC) - Delta 8 THC is very similar to it’s relative Delta 9 THC, which is the version of the compound we refer to when we smoke weed and get lit. Delta 8 THC, however, has less psychoactive effects. The differentiating aspect between Delta 8 and 9 THC is the presence of a few electrons. There are only a few studies looking at the therapeutic effects of Delta 8, but what we have found thus far is promising. Studies have shown it to help treat cancer, anxiety, and nausea.
Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) - THCP is a newly discovered cannabinoid with potential to be 30 times more potent than THC. On a molecular level, THCV has 7 carbon atoms in its alkyl side chain, while THC has 5. Studies have shown THCP to have similar effects in lab mice as THC, but more research is needed to understand the extent of their effect on humans.