There are over 400 natural components found within the Cannabis plant, of which 85 have been classified as Cannabinoids. These unique compounds found within the Cannabis plant are sourced from within the flower, leaf, and stem.
The Cannabinoids are separated into these subclasses:
- (CBG) Cannabigerols
- (CBC) Cannabichromenes
- (CBD) Cannabidiols
- (THC) Tetrahydrocannabinols
- (CBN) Cannabinol and (CBDL) Cannabinodiol
- Other Cannabinoids such as (CBE) Cannabielsoin, (CBL)
- Cannabicyclol, Cannabitriol (CBT) and other miscellaneous types.
What Do Cannabinoids Do
Cannabinoids are known to affect the user by interacting with specific receptors that are located within different parts of the central nervous system. To date two kinds of Cannabinoid receptors have been found and have been termed CB1 and CB2. In 1992 a substance that occurs naturally within the brain and binds to CB1 receptors was first discovered and termed “Anandamide.” Since then additional naturally occurring substances that bind to CB1 have been discovered, and these, along with the receptors are termed the “Endogenous Cannabinoid System.”
The actual effects that the Cannabinoids have is relative to the areas of the brain they interact with. These interactions often occur in our limbic system the part of the brain that affects memory, cognition and psychomotor performance. They also occur in the mesolimbic pathway, the activity in this area is shown to be associated with feelings of well being and reward and are also widely distributed in areas of pain perception.
We are still in the very early phase of learning about the Endogenous Cannabinoid System in regard to the many potential medical uses of Medicinal Cannabis.
Cannabidiol – CBD
What is the Difference Between Cannabinoids
The main differences between the various Cannabinoids are determined by the degree to which they are psychologically active. Three classes of Cannabinoids, the CBC, CBG and CBD are not known to have such an effect. THC, CBN, CBDL and some of the other Cannabinoids are known to be psychologically active to different degrees.
The Most Common Cannabinoids
CBD has tremendous medical potential. This is especially true when the correctly identified ratio of CBD to THC is applied to help treat a particular condition. CBD is shown to act as an antagonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, although it has a very low binding affinity for both. This may suggest that CBD’s mechanism of action is mediated by other receptors within the brain and body. This compound is a mild analgesic, or painkiller, and cellular research has shown that it has antioxidant activity.
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
CBDA is similar to THCA, it is the main constituent in Cannabis varities with elevated CBD levels present. CBDA selectively inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, this contributes to Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects.
CBN is a mildly psychoactive Cannabinoid that is produced during the degradation of THC. There is usually very little CBN in a freshly cultivated Cannabis plant. CBN is shown to act as a weak agonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, with greater affinity for CB2 receptors than CB1. The degradation of THC into CBN is often described as creating a sedative effect, known as a “couch lock.”
CBG is a non-psychoactive Cannabinoid, CBG’s antibacterial effects can alter the overall effects of Cannabis. CBG is also known to kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, (particularly in its acidic CBGA form), inhibit cell growth in tumour/cancer cells, and promotes bone growth. CBG also acts as a low affinity antagonist at the CB1 receptor site. CBG pharmacological activity at the CB2 receptor site is at this stage unknown.
CBC is more often found in tropical Cannabis strains. CBC has been shown to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, inhibit cell growth in cancerous tumours, and help promote new bone growth. The overall effects of CBC appear to be mediated through non-Cannabinoid receptor pathways.
Like THCV, CBDV differs from CBD only by the substitution of a pentyl five carbon for a propyl three carbon sidechain. Although CBDV research is still in its very early stages, some more recent studies have shown great promise for its use in the management and treatment of epilepsy. This is due to its action at TRPV1 receptor and modulation of the gene expression.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
THCA is one of the main constituent in raw Cannabis. THCA converts to Δ9-THC when, vaporised, burned, or heated to a certain temperature this process is called decarboxilation. THCA, CBGA, CBDA and other acidic Cannabinoids hold the most COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition, this contributs to Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects. This Cannabinoid also acts as an antispasmodic and antiproliferative.
THC is the most well-known Cannabinoid in Cannabis, THC is the Cannabinoid responsible for the main psychoactive effects “the high” most people associate with Cannabis. THC has analgesic, anti-emetic (reduces vomiting and nausea), anti-proliferative (inhibits cancer cell growth), antioxidant, antispasmodic, anxiolitic (decreases anxiety), appetite stimulant, euphoriant, and neuroprotective (slows damage to the nervous system and brain) effects.
THCV is one of the minor Cannabinoids found in a limited number of Cannabis varirities. The only structural difference between THC and THCV is the addition of a propyl three carbon group, rather than a pentyl five carbon group, on the molecule. Even though this variation may seem very subtle, it causes THCV to produce very different effects than THC. These effects often include a reduction in panic attacks, promotion of bone growth and the suppression of appetite. THCV also acts as an antagonist at the CB1 receptor and a partial agonist at the CB2 receptor.