WHAT ARE CANNABINOIDS?
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There are three types of cannabinoids known to scientists today: endocannabinoids (found within the human body), phytocannabinoids (found in plants such as cannabis), and ones created in a lab known as synthetic cannabinoids.  In addition to cannabinoids, the chemical profile of the cannabis plant contains other compounds like terpenoids, amino acids, proteins, sugars, enzymes, fatty acids, esters, and flavonoids, just to name a few.

 

CBC   Cannabichromene
     
CBD   Cannabidiol
     
CBD-V   Cannabidivarin
     
CBG   Cannabigerol
     
CBN   Cannabinol
     
THC   Tetrahydrocannabidol
     
THC-A   Tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid
     
THC-V   Tetrahydrocannabivarin

 

Cannabichromene (CBC)
 

is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that is believed to inhibit inflammation and pain, stimulate new bone growth, and block the growth of cancerous tumors.

When we consider the major cannabinoids, cannabichromene (CBC) is sort of “the ugly duckling.” CBC doesn’t get a lot of praise nor attention, but it has shown to have profound benefits. 
Similar to cannabidiol (CBD)   and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBC stems from the all-important cannabigerolic acid (CBG-A).

From there, enzymes cause it to convert into cannabidiol carboxylic acid (CBD-A), tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THC-A), or cannabichrome carboxylic acid (CBC-A). In this case of CBC-A, it obviously passes through the CBC synthase, or the enzymes that get the specific process underway. In order to get cannabichromene, decarboxylation must occur. Over time, or quickly if exposed to heat, the CBC-A will lose a molecule of CO2; at this point it is considered CBC. The same process applies when developing THC and CBD.

Although cannabichromene isn’t the most popular cannabinoid, research suggests CBC could be very beneficial. According to Halent Labs, a top lab-testing facility, it is believed to inhibit inflammation and pain. In addition, it is believed to stimulate bone growth.

One of the most intriguing findings about cannabichromene is its relationship with cancer. CBC is believed to have anti-proliferative effects, meaning it inhibits the growth of cancerous tumors.

This could be a result of its interaction with anandamide. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, which means our body produces it naturally. It affects the CB1 receptors, as well as the CB2 receptors, and has been found to fight against human breast cancer. CBC inhibits the uptake of anandamide, which allows it to stay in the bloodstream longer.

Not only does CBC have benefits of its own, but it seems to work with the other cannabinoids to produce a synergistic effect; it gives merit to the saying, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Even though cannabichromene is found in much smaller concentrations than THC and CBD, its importance should not be overlooked. Never underestimate the power of the entourage effect.

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Cannabidiol (CBD)
 

is a cannabinoid that gives cannabis its sedative effect, and has been known to ease a number of symptoms from difficult conditions and disorders related to rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, epilepsy, nausea, bowel disorders, schizophrenia, and many more.

his cannabinoid is known as Cannabidiol (CBD), and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. Research done by G.W. Pharmaceuticals suggests that CBD could be used for treating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, diabetes, nausea, bowel disorders, and many other hard-to-control side effects. According to an article from Projectcbd.com, CBD has even demonstrated neuroprotective effects, and its anti-cancer potential is currently being explored.

While it was originally believed that THC is a breakdown product of CBD, it is now known that both THC and CBD are actually metabolites of their decarboxylated acidic forms, THCa and CBDa. These acidic precursors are decarboxylated (essentially dried) by heat or extraction to produce THC and CBD; only then do they become psychoactive. The compound has medicinal benefits without the “high” that some patients do not desire. This makes CBD appealing to patients who are looking for an alternative to their current meds, which often have opiate-like effects.

Cannabidiol is even known to counteract some of the effects of THC like the “munchies.” Just as THC increases our appetite, CBD suppresses it, which could be ideal for patients watching their figure. CBD just might be a key ingredient in a future weight loss drug, who knows?

There is one exception to the theory that CBD suppresses appetite, but it is a blessing as well. Many people who have difficulty eating due to their stress or anxiety can use CBD to get rid of that sick feeling in their chest or stomach, allowing them to eat again once their anxiety subsides.

A recent study published in The International Journal of Neurophamacology points to Cannabidiol (CBD) as a cause of Neurogenesis in the brain; specifically in the Hippocampus, an area typically associated with conscious memory and navigation. However, the researchers believe that CBD’s anxiety relief may be due to this neurogenesis in the brain. You can read our full article on the study here.

Cannabidiol is what gives cannabis its sedative effect, and has been known to ease a number of symptoms from difficult conditions.  There has actually been a substantial amount of experiments done on cannabidiol that has proved its healing powers.

Dr. Sean McAllister, a scientist from the Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, made an astounding discovery about CBD. McAllister has been studying cannabinoid compounds for 10 years now in search of new therapeutic interventions for various cancers. He discovered that cannabidiol is a potent inhibitor of cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, and tumor growth.

Results of his experiments on breast cancer show that the number of cancer cells diminished as more CBD was applied. Essentially, CBD may be a generally effective way to switch off the cancer-causing gene, providing patients with a non-toxic therapy to treat aggressive forms of cancer.

Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Faculty of Medicine has been studying cannabinoids for almost 50 years. Mechoulam gave a talk on cannabidiol on the 45th year of involvement in the field in which he spoke about a number of experiments being done on cannabidiol.

He described an experiment that was done in Brazil in which a 200mg/day dosage of CBD was added to the anticonvulsants epilepsy patients were currently taking. Over the course of several months only 1 of the 7 patients showed no improvement; three became seizure-free; one experienced only one or two seizures, and two experienced reduced severity and occurrence of seizures.

A colleague of Mechoulam’s, Marc Feldman at Imperial College, London, tested CBD on mice that had a version of rheumatoid arthritis. He found that CBD reduced the mice’s inflammation by 50% at the right dosage. Cardiologists working with the mice at Hebrew University have found that a dosage of CBD immediately following a heart attack can reduce infarct size by about 66%.

Unfortunately most commercially available indica strains have been selected and bred for their high levels of THC for the past 20-30 years. This has resulted in CBD being nearly bred out of the plant — most strains contain less than 1% CBD.

Since CBD typically shows up under 1% in most strains, it is sometimes hard to find a plant with equally as low THC percentages as to avoid the ‘high’ patients experience from THC. However, that doesn’t mean that these CBD-rich strains don’t exist!

Thanks to the many growers who are now focusing on CBD-rich strains for their medicinal benefits rather than seeking a high from sticky THC-covered strains, CBD-rich strains are making a comeback.

Cannatonic” is one known popular CBD-rich strain which is known to contain 6.5% CBD by weight, and the same amount of THC, making for one of the most medicinal strains out there. Sour Tsunami, Ghost RiderHarlequinJamaican Lion and Omrita Rx3 have been tested several times by several labs as high as 18% CBD with equal or lower percentages of THC (3:2 ratio of CBD to THC in most cases).

We have only begun to scratch the surface of understanding this miraculous cannabinoid. While significant discoveries have been made about the medicinal benefits of Cannabidiol, there is much left to reveal about this cannabinoid. You can read about recent developments in ProjectCBD.org’s CBDiary, a catch-all column for news generated by patients, doctors, dispensaries, growers, plant breeders, pharmacologists, the industry, the government —all the players— as the CBD story unfolds.

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Cannabidivarin (CBD-V)
 

is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis. It is a homolog of cannabidiol (CBD), with the side-chain shortened by two methylene bridges (CH2 units). Plants with relatively high levels of CBDV have been reported in feral populations of C. indica ( = C. sativa ssp. indica var. kafiristanica) from northwest India, and in hashish from Nepal.

Similarly to CBD, it has 7 double bond isomers and 30 stereoisomers (see: Cannabidiol#Double bond isomers and their stereoisomers). It is not scheduled by Convention on Psychotropic Substances. It is being actively developed by GW Pharmaceuticals because of a demonstrated neurochemical pathway for previously-observed anti-epileptic and anti-convulsive action.

It’s no secret at this point that certain chemical compounds found in medical marijuana may aid in the treatment of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals has already commenced clinical trials to test the effectiveness of their cannabis-based drug Epidiolex, which is comprised of mostly cannabidiol (CBD), and the Epilepsy Foundation of America has called for nationwide access to medical marijuana.

With that said, the Endocannabinoid Research Group in Italy published a study earlier this week in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience that takes a deeper look at the role non-psychotropic cannabinoids could play in treating epilepsy. Their results suggest that a little known cannabinoid called cannabidivarin (CBDV) could help modulate epileptiform activity in more ways than one.

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Cannabigerol (CBG)
 

is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Cannabigerol is typically found in higher concentrations in hemp rather than in varieties of cannabis cultivated for high THC content and their corresponding psychoactive properties.

When considering the medicine that best suits you, it’s helpful to know the science behind a strain’s cannabinoid profile. The prevalence of lab testing is a great tool and has rapidly become the industry standard. Teams of chemists at locations like SC Labs in California and Sunrise Analytical in Oregon allow patients to see the breakdown of cannabinoids in their medicine, to an exact percentage.

This trend has lead to an increased interest in the “minor” cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was the focus of breeders for decades until the many medicinal benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) started being published. Discoveries like these spurred an interest in cannabigerol (CBG) and phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids found in plants) as a whole.

The ability to produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is what makes the cannabis plant unique.

It is the precursor to the three major branches of cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinolic  acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). The plant has natural enzymes, called synthases, that break the CBGA down and mold it toward the desired branch. The plant’s synthases (THC-synthase, CBD-synthase, CBC-synthase) are named for after the cannabinoid they help create.

When any of the cannabinoid acids are exposed to heat, or prolonged UV light, they lose a molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2). At this point, they are considered to be in the neutral form (CBG, THC, CBD, CBC, etc.). In most medicinal strains, CBGA is immediately converted to another cannabinoid and is not typically found in high concentrations. However, if a strain is high in CBGA, then smoking it would cause it to change to cannabigerol (CBG).

Testing of industrial hemp has found much higher levels of cannabigerol (CBG) than most strains of cannabis. Further studies have shown that this phenomenon may be due to a recessive gene. It is believed that the gene keeps the plant from producing one of the cannabinoid synthases (what converts CBGA to one of the major branches).

That being said, breeders are able to manipulate a plant’s cannabinoid profile by adjusting the amount of each synthase it naturally produces. If a breeder wants to focus on a specific cannabinoid they are able to do so by cross-breeding two plants that are genetically predisposed to make a lot of it. In the case of CBG, the breeder would instead focus on plants with the recessive gene that inhibits the ability of the cannabinoid synthase.

In fact, Odie Deisel is one of the new head breeders at TGA genetics Subcool Seeds and he has helped create a strain with high levels of cannabigerol (CBG). According to the TGA website, Mickey Kush is a Sativa-dominant strain resulting from Sweet Irish Kush and Jack The Ripper. Not only does the Mickey Kush strain test at 28.6% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but the website boasts about it’s high CBG content as well.

The understanding of this specific cannabinoid and it’s effects is somewhat limited. Restrictions on the testing of cannabis make it difficult to find volumes of quality research about cannabigerol (CBG).

That being said, it has been classified as an antagonist of the CB1-receptor, which affects the central nervous system. Because of this, CBG is believed to partially counteract the paranoid, “heady” high typically associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabigerol (CBG) has also been determined to affect the CB2-receptor, which influences the body more. However, researchers aren’t sure if CBG promotes or inhibits CB2-receptor activity yet.

Another effect cannabigerol (CBG) has on the brain is that it inhibits the uptake of GABA, a brain chemical that determines how much stimulation a neuron needs to cause a reaction. When GABA is inhibited it can decrease anxiety and muscle tension similar to the effects of cannabidiol (CBD).

An Italian study published in the May 2013 edition of Biological Psychology suggests that cannabigerol (CBG) has strong anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It also is useful in the treatment of glaucoma, as CBG can increase the fluid drainage from the eye and reduce the amount of pressure. Further, cannabigerol (CBG) has anti-depressant qualities and may inhibit tumor growth.

Not only is cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) the first stage in the development of cannabinoids, but it has been found to have benefits of its own when smoked. It becomes cannabigerol (CBG) as a result of a CO2 molecule escaping the compound in response to heat (when you spark it).

Because of it’s newly discovered uses, breeders like Odie Diesel have paid more attention to CBG in their strains and patients should follow suit. Medicinal strains that are also high in cannabigerol (CBG) are likely to have a much more balanced effect. The CBG seems to help your brain find a happy medium between the rest of the cannabinoids, causing a feeling of synergy.

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Cannabinol (CBN)
 

is a cannabinoid found in cannabis that acts as a natural sleep-aid for those suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. Cannabinol contains anti-bacterial properties (when applied as a topical), and stimulates bone growth to help combat osteoporosis in patients.

When we look at the construction of cannabis, we find that it has over 80 cannabinoids. Until recently, tetrahydrocannbinol (THC) was the only cannabinoid anyone seemed to care about. Thankfully recent research, particularly about cannabidiol (CBD), has brought about an intense interest in all the cannabinoids.

As is the case in many of the known cannabinoids, cannabinol (CBN) stems from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) in cannabis. The plant naturally produces enzymes (aka synthases) that convert the CBGA to one of 3 major cannabinoids: cannabichromene carboxylic acid (CBCA), cannabidiol carboxylic acid (CBDA), and tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THCA).

When the plant develops THCA, it usually will be converted to THC as a result of heat or UV light. That being said, THCA can be converted to CBNA over time as well. Prolonged exposure to air causes the THCA to lose hydrogen molecules and oxidize; now we have CBNA. Just like the rest of the acidic cannabinoids, CBNA will convert to cannabinol (CBN) when exposed to heat or UV light.

Cannabis is widely used as a sleep-aid for those who suffer from insomnia and cannabinol is the reason why. By all accounts, CBN is the cannabinoid responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis. Because of this, I tend to reserve high-CBN strains for night use.

Another use for cannabinol as an anti-bacterial. According to a Italian study from 2008, cannabinol “showed potent activity against MRSA” when applied as a topical. Topical uses also have shown promise in treating burns and psoriasis.

The research on cannabinol (CBN) is still lacking, but some early studies have suggested it could stimulate bone growth. If that’s the case, it would be helpful in treating osteoporosis. It could also help those with broken bones to recover more quickly.

When searching for the perfect strain, it’s important to know what you’re getting. This is why lab-testing should never be overlooked. Testing facilities like Steep Hill Lab in California give patients a complete cannabinoid profile of their medicine. It’s always a good idea to check a strains profile before making a decision.

Because cannabinol is a production of degradation, it’s not usually found in high concentrations (in a collective). High levels of CBN are usually related to poor storage methods. If cannabis is stored in an airtight container of some sort, it’s unlikely that a lot of THC would convert to CBN.

Luckily, not all is lost if you’re searching your collective for a sleep-aid. The simple solution would be to allow you’re medicine to age a bit. When exposed to the air, the THC will begin to degrade and convert to CBN, a great way to fight insomnia.

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Tetrahydrocannabidol (THC)
 

is a phytocannabinoid that activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. The CB1 receptors are generally located in the nervous system and they are responsible for the psychoactive effect that THC can cause.

For years, THC was the only cannabinoid that got any attention. It is widely considered the most psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, and a lot of the world’s best breeders placed a priority on plants that could deliver high numbers until recently. Despite its popularity, there are still a good bit people who don’t even know that THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol.

Although breeders previously aimed for strains with high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is the result of numerous chemical reactions. The plant starts by producing cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). From here, a portion of the CBGA is converted to tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THCA), which becomes THC when exposed to heat or UV light. Because of this decarboxylation process, most of the THC you experience when smoking cannabis is actually THCA in the flower form.

When lab testing for THC content, companies like Steep Hill Halent Laboratories in California and Sunrise Analytical in Oregon actually measure the amount of THCA and combine it with the amount of THC to get a final result.

This is definitely the best way to measure the amount of tetrahydrocannbinol (THC) you will experience when smoking, but research has suggested that no more than 70% will be converted when exposed to exteme heat. Instead, it will remain in the form of THCA.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a phytocannabinoid that activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. The CB1 receptors are generally located in the nervous system and they are responsible for the psychoactive effect that THC can cause. The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are more located in the immune and gastrointestinal systems. They play a major role in minimizing inflammation.

One instance where the benefits of THC are obvious is the the treatment of Crohn’s Disease. A recent study published by Meir Medical Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine found that THC can cause remission of Crohn’s Disease. This is a direct result of its interaction with the CB2 receptor; it minimizes the inflammation Crohn’s Disease causes.

In terms of the CB1 receptor, a study performed by the University of Haifa in Israel showed that THC can help minimize the negative effects of stress. Because THC activates the CB1 receptor, it promotes a process called Long Term Potentiation, which improves the ability to learn. It also can help protect spatial memories, due to it’s effect in the hippocampus.

Protection from stress isn’t the only psychological benefit of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The psychological field have found it useful in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and exposure-based phobia therapy. These are just two of the many forms of anxiety, and cannabis is often used to counteract the other types as well. Psychology has also pointed to THC as a regulator of adult brain development (see Neuroplasticity).

etrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not only useful in a scientific manner by any means. In fact, there is a good bit of evidence that suggests it is beneficial as a daily supplement. Mainly because of it’s effect on the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, THC is used to help regulate appetite.

The importance of heart health can’t be overstated, and a study from Israel concluded that incredibly small doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help prevent heart attacks. The same study also found a small dose of THC could be a useful preparation for heart surgery. It minimized the amount of lasting damage in cardiac tissue post-operation.

Because of its psychoactive properties, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rose to stardom among the cannabinoids. In turn, breeders main goal was to produce as much THC as possible. Although new research on the other cannabinoids has shown that trend to be a mistake, not all is lost.

Strains with high concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) have made their way back into the mainstream and there is a budding trend to develop high cannabigerol (CBG) strains. Although a well-balanced cannabinoid profile is certainly ideal, strains high in THC have shown to serve a purpose. Not only is it beneficial as a supplement to everyday life, but it has successfully helped a number of people deal with incurable diseases.

Strains high in THC, such as Cherry Lopez (21%) Royal Kush (25%), Godfather OG (28%) often offer a heady, sometimes spacey effect. Patients who suffer from anxiety are sometimes steered away from strains with abnormally high levels of THC. If the effects of THC aren’t properly balanced by the other cannabinoids it can cause your thoughts to race a little; and if you have anxiety then you know rapid thinking doesn’t help in the slightest.

That being said, THC can be quite useful for anxiety if the dose is managed appropriately; just take it slow. THC is a natural compound and more findings about its benefits seem to present themselves everyday. Its psychoactive properties caused THC to rise to fame and its not likely it will fall off anytime soon.

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Tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid (THC-A)  Not to be confused with 11-nor-9-Carboxy-THC.
 

is a biosynthetic precursor of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of Cannabis. When purified, it forms
a powder which is unstable in the presense of acids, heat, oxygen, and/or light.

THCA is found in variable quantities in fresh, undried cannabis, but is progressively decarboxylated to THC with drying, and especially under intense heating such as when cannabis is smoked.

THCA does not have any known psychoactive effects on humans in its own right. It does have antiinflammatoryneuroprotective, antiemetic (anti-vomitting) and anti-prostate cancer effects. It inhibits COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes involved in inflammation in human colon cell cultures. It has also been shown to decrease the amount of oxidative stress caused by impairment of mitochondria which is a major mechanism in neural degeneration in mouse mesencephalic cell cultures.

Despite the ready decarboxylation by drying or heating ex vivo, conversion of THCA to THC in vivo appears to be very limited, giving it only very slight efficacy as a prodrug for THC. Consequently it is believed to be important in less-psychoactive preparations of cannabis used for medical use, such as cannabis tea.

THCA is commonly used as a biomarker in drug testing along with THCV, to distinguish between prescribed synthetic Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, such as Marinol, and cannabis plant material which may also be used by patients.

THCA is not scheduled by the United Nations' Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

THCA is not scheduled at the federal level in the United States, but it is possible that THCA could legally be considered an analog of THC and sales or possession could potentially be prosecuted under the Federal Analogue Act.

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Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC-V)
 

is a homologue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) having a propyl (3-carbon) side chain instead of a pentyl (5-carbon) group on the molecule, what makes it to produce very different effecs from THC. This terpeno-phenolic compound is found naturally in Cannabis, sometimes in significant amounts. The psychoactive effects of THCV in Cannabis preparations are not well characterized.

Similarly to THC, THCV has 7 double bond isomers and 30 stereoisomers (see: Tetrahydrocannabinol#Isomerism). Its melting point is < 220 degrees Celsius, < 428 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plants with elevated levels of propyl cannabinoids (including THCV) have been found in populations of Cannabis sativa L. ssp. indica (= Cannabis indica Lam.) from China, India, Nepal, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as southern and western Africa. THCV levels up to 53.7% of total cannabinoids have been reported.

THCV is a cannabinoid receptor type 1 antagonist and cannabinoid receptor type 2 partial agonist. Δ8-THCV has also been shown to be a CB1 antagonist. Both papers describing the antagonistic properties of THCV were demonstrated in murine models.

Unlike THC, cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabichromene (CBC), THCV doesn’t begin as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Instead of combining with olivetolic acid to create CBGA, geranyl pyrophosphate joins with divarinolic acid, which has 2 less carbon atoms. The result is cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA). Once CBGVA is created, the process continues exactly same as it would for THC. CBGVA is broken down to tetrahydrocannabivarin carboxylic acid (THCVA) by the enzyme THCV synthase. At that point, THCVA can be decarboxylated with heat or UV light to create THCV.

It is not scheduled by Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

THCV is not scheduled at the federal level in the United States, but it is possible that THCV could legally be considered an analog of THC, in which case purchase, sale, or possession could be prosecuted under the Federal Analog Act.

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