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A Concise Guide to the Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis|CBD oil bottle|A Concise Guide to the Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis


A Concise Guide to the Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis

Though many have heard about the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) and therapeutic effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but most people have not been introduced to the rest of the cannabinoid family. In fact, there are over 100 cannabinoids.1 

Highlighted below is a closer look at several import cannabinoids and the benefits that they provide to human health. Because of the "entourage effect," using several different cannabinoids together can create for a synergistic effect that creates more benefits than using each one individually.

Exploring Key Cannabinoids

THCA: Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid

Interestingly, THC doesn’t actually exist within the cannabis plant. Like many of the cannabinoids, it exists in its acidic form: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THCA must be heated to release its carbon molecule and become the active THC molecule. Some of the benefits of THCA include controlling nausea and maintaining healthy digestion.

THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol

When THCA has been stripped of its carbon atom with applied heat, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is born. THC binds to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This produces psychoactive effects but can also serve to relieve minor aches and pains and reduce stress. The effects of THC can be modulated by the presence of other cannabinoids.

CBDA: Cannabidiolic Acid

CBDA is the most abundant cannabinoid in certain varieties of the cannabis plant. This acidic compound is transformed into CBD when heated but also offers therapeutic benefits in its acidic form.

CBD oil bottle

Cannabidiol: CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the product of decarboxylation of the CBDA molecule and has recently increased in popularity because of its demonstrated health benefits. CBD offers many of the same benefits as THC but without the psychoactive effects.

CBGA: Cannabigerolic Acid

This is not only the third most common cannabinoid, but also an important precursor to many other cannabinoids synthesized within the cannabis plant. CBGA is transformed into CBCA, CBDA, and THCA, which carry a large portion of the therapeutic properties found in cannabis.

In itself, CBGA has potent benefits to treating inflammation . Because inflammation can compromise the immune system and lead to immune disorders, CBGA prevents a wide variety of undesirable health issues.

CBG: Cannabigerol

CBG is the first of many minor cannabinoids that exist in smaller amounts which can be higher or below trace levels depending on the strain, or cultivar. CBG functions as a vasodilator which preserves the structural integrity of blood vessels and can protect the structures of the brain through improved oxygen supplies.

CBCA: Cannabichromenic Acid

Cannabichromenic acid is considered the fourth of the most important cannabinoids that have been identified and categorized for their extensive health benefits and synergistic activity. CBCA has been found especially effective when used topically to address fungal conditions that attack the skin.

CBC: Cannabichromene

CBC doesn’t share the same affinity THC has with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Instead, it interacts with other receptors that can affect the activity of the ECS. Most importantly, CBC enhances the antidepressant activities of THC and CBD through the entourage effect. CBC may also improve conditions of acne and contribute to healthy brain cells.

THCV: Tetrahydrocannabivarin

In addition to CBC, CBN, CBD and CBG, THCV is part of the cannabinoid array that provide anticonvulsant properties that can benefit those suffering from migraines and even bipolar disorders. THCV has a molecular structure almost identical to THC, but lacks the capacity to create a psychoactive response. THCV does have other benefits, for example, it activates the TRPV1 receptor making it an effective pain reliever.

CBN: Cannabinol

As THCA is broken down in the cannabis plant, cannabinol is produced. Therefore, plants that have ripened in the sun will typically have higher quantities of CBN. When ingested alongside THC, CBN has a powerful sedating effect on the physiology and is especially relaxing . CBN is also part of the anticonvulsant array of cannabinoids and has been studied for its antibacterial properties as well. CBN, like many of the cannabinoids not listed here, has not been studied extensively, and we are still learning more about how it affects the activities of other cannabinoids.

Final Thoughts

The cannabinoids at work in your hemp or cannabis derived products don’t just affect the health benefits but also the legality of your products in accordance with state law. Make sure you take the time to research the potential benefits of the special organic compounds in any natural treatments you hope to use. For further advice, consult your medical provider for tips on getting the best results from alternative medication.

Photo credits: Creativan/, ElRoi/

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