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Cannabinoid Spotlight Series

by David Bray

Many plants contain useful natural compounds that are used in medicine, food, and more. However, cannabis might be the winner when it comes to interesting and unique chemical compounds! Cannabis plants produce a resin that is rich in cannabinoids, which are similar to the endocannabinoids found in the human body. For this reason, these molecules can have a strong effect on the human brain and body.

In recent decades, researchers have been uncovering the unique properties of several different cannabinoids. The most notable ones are CBD and THC, but there are others out there, too! Here are some of the most prominent ones and how they help to make cannabis one of the most beneficial plants in the world.

First, What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are the 140+ different chemical compounds contained in cannabis. They are also called phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids), and they exhibit a variety of effects. Cannabinoids are different than your average plant compound. Unlike the chemicals in most plants, these special chemicals are able to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in humans and other mammals. They act on receptors that are located throughout the nervous system, digestive system, immune system, and more.

While CBD and THC are the most prominent and well-studied cannabinoids in the plant, they are not the only ones that are worth your time! The more we study and learn about these plant compounds, the more apparent it becomes that the cannabis plant is full of dozens of compounds that all work together to produce a synergistic effect. In other words, cannabinoids are better together than they are in isolation.

The Cannabinoids You Need to Know About

While we still haven’t uncovered everything there is to know about cannabinoids, we do have a few decades of research on some of the more prevalent ones.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

This is by far the most well-known cannabinoid because of its unique psychoactive properties. It’s the chemical that marijuana is famous for. Most strains of marijuana contain high levels of THC, but industrial hemp is cultivated to contain as little THC as possible. Products containing THC are highly regulated.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is one of the most prevalent and commonly-isolated cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants, and it has been especially popular throughout the past decade for its calming, pain-reducing effects. Many hemp strains are cultivated to contain very high levels of CBD, and it is marketed to address a variety of issues in both humans and pets.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG is a less-prevalent, non-psychoactive compound that is being researched now for its potential medical benefits. It has shown great promise in early clinical studies and it may be the “next big thing” in the cannabis world!

Cannabiniol (CBN)

CBN is a cannabinoid present in small amounts in hemp and marijuana. It is a metabolite of THC that increases in prevalence as the plant ages in storage. It has a higher affinity to CB2 receptors than CB1 receptors.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

CBDV is minor cannabinoid that occurs in some strains, especially those that are also high in CBD. CBDV seems to contribute to the cannabis plant’s antiseizure properties according to a few different studies.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

THCV is a cannabinoid found in some strains that helps to lessen THC’s psychoactive effects by blocking THC at CB1 receptors.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that acts on certain receptors and interferes with their ability to break down endocannabinoids.

Many of these cannabinoids don’t have a lot of research as of yet. However, every day, we have scientists and cannabis growers working toward a more thorough understanding of the plant. Within the next few years, hopefully we will know a whole lot more about the lesser-understood cannabinoids so that we can harness their effects and create better cannabis products!