The Complete Guide to Cannabinoids

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Cannabinoids are natural compounds that are found in cannabis plants. There are about 480 different compounds found in cannabis plants, and more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified. Some of these cannabinoids have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, such as THC and CBD, but there are many others that you should know about if you are considering cannabis products. Let’s go through a brief cannabinoids list!

What Are Cannabinoids?

As mentioned, cannabinoids at the most basic level, are chemical compounds found naturally occurring in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids produced by cannabis are called phytocannabinoids. What makes cannabinoids special is that they have a unique ability to interact with certain receptors in our cells, leading to a wide variety of effects on the body.

While there are currently more than 100 different cannabinoids that have been isolated, only a few of them have been extensively studied for how they impact the body via the endocannabinoid system.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), or endocannabinoid system, is a network of cell receptors in the body that can interact with cannabinoids. Without the ECS, cannabinoids would have no effect on our bodies. The ECS even produces its own cannabinoids, which are called endocannabinoids.

Surprisingly, we know a lot more about cannabinoids produced in cannabis plants than we do about the ones our bodies produce. We still haven’t figured out exactly how our bodies make endocannabinoids, but we have identified a few of them.

There are two classes of ECS receptors in the body. The first exist primarily in the brain, and they are called CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors have also been found in the eye and retina, as well as both the male and female reproductive systems.

The second type of ECS receptors are called CB2 receptors, and they primarily exist in the immune system and spleen. Research has shown that CB2 receptors are responsible for the anti-inflammatory nature of cannabis, especially CBD, and researchers believe that CB2 receptors may be the reason that cannabis has medicinal and therapeutic effects in the human body.

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Types of Cannabinoids

The most common cannabinoids present in cannabis plants are:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
  • Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
  • Cannabicyclol (CBL)
  • Cannabielsoin (CBE)
  • Cannabitriol (CBT)

Let’s take a closer look at each different type of cannabinoid.

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)

THCA is the precursor to THC. When cannabis grows, it creates cannabinoids as carboxylic acids. These often undergo a process called decarboxylation, which converts the acids into non-acidic compounds. THCA is abundant in fresh cannabis, but it depletes when exposed to light or heat, which turns it into THC.

Interestingly, THCA is non-psychoactive because it doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors in the body. It doesn’t bind well to CB2 receptors, either. To get much benefit from THCA, you would need to ingest raw cannabis.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC gets a lot of attention because it is a psychoactive cannabinoid associated with the “high” feeling people experience when they use marijuana. To produce this “high,” THC binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

THC triggers the brain to release dopamine, and it interferes with how information is processed in the brain. It has also been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years around the world.

There are many isomers of THC that are usually indicated with a number like Delta-8, Delta-9, or Delta-10. These are all closely related compounds but may have different psychoactive effects.

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)

CBDA is a cannabinoid precursor compound that converts to CBD in a process called decarboxylation, which occurs when cannabis is exposed to heat or sunlight. CBDA is somewhat unique because it doesn’t bind with either of the endocannabinoid receptors in the body. Instead, it inhibits the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, which is commonly associated with inflammation post-injury or after an infection. For this reason, researchers are looking into how CBDA can help with inflammation and pain relief.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is arguably the most common non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It has gained a lot of fame due to its many benefits. CBD is one of the most popular cannabinoids marketed today, as it is associated with providing a sense of relief, calm, and rest. CBD is also being extensively studied for many different potential medicinal benefits for various conditions, such as epilepsy, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN is created as THC breaks down, meaning that older cannabis flowers tend to contain more CBN than younger ones. As a byproduct of THC, many people assume that CBN will provide the same “high” sensation. However, it is only mildly psychoactive and is mostly associated with a calming effect. The benefits of CBN are numerous and include promoting calmness and rest, providing relief from discomfort, and boosting immune function.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG is generally found in low levels in most cannabis strains because it is caused by the degradation of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) when cannabis plants are exposed to heat or light. While researchers are still exploring CBG’s full potential, it is currently known to help with rest and appetite stimulation.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

Like many other cannabinoids, CBC is formed as cannabichrome carboxylic acid (CBCa) breaks down through decarboxylation. CBC is associated with a wide range of benefits. A few of these benefits including relief, reducing inflammation, reducing the appearance of acne, and more.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

THCV is part of the “varin” group. While THCV has a lot in common with THC, it has a slightly different chemical structure and produces different effects. It is believed that THCV works as more of a blocker than an activator of CB1 receptors. However, the data on that is mixed.

Cannabinodiol (CBDL)

CBDL is a psychoactive cannabinoid that is similar to CBD. CBDL occurs during the photochemical conversion of CBD, which is what makes them so similar. There isn’t much information on CBDL, currently.

Cannabicyclol (CBL)

CBL is a minor cannabinoid that occurs when CBC starts to degrade. It is believed that CBL is non-psychoactive, but researchers know very little about this cannabinoid.

Cannabielsoin (CBE)

CBE is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that was first mentioned in 1973. Since then, many studies have been conducted on CBE, but not much is known about the advantages of this cannabinoid.

Cannabitriol (CBT)

CBT was discovered in 2011, and not enough research into this cannabinoid has been done to understand what CBT really does within the human body. It is also currently unclear whether or not CBT is psychoactive.

With so many different cannabinoids in cannabis plants—many under-researched—it is hard to truly understand all of them. We briefly touched on a few of the most discussed cannabinoids, and even many of those are awaiting further research before we can truly understand them. Knowing all this, it is clear that cannabis is an incredibly complex plant.

A Note on Entourage Effect

Many phytocannabinoids have complementary effects on the ECS, and so the presence of minor cannabinoids in products made with full spectrum hemp oil is believed to have a stronger effect than the individual compounds in isolation. Even though the concentration of minor cannabinoids are frequently much lower than compounds like CBD or THC, they contribute to the total experience and reinforce the main effects of the high concentration compounds.

At Veritas Farms, our goal is to provide education for those who wish to explore CBD. If you are interested in learning more about CBD, check out our CBD blog. You can also browse our full selection of CBD oil products!

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