A guide to Cannabinoids

Everything You Need To Know About Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids make up more than 100 out of the 500 different chemicals found in cannabis. This is what gives cannabis plants the variety of effects and benefits that we can enjoy. While cannabis also contains chemicals and compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids, we’ll be focusing on cannabinoids specifically. As we’ll explain what they are. The different types of cannabinoids that you should know about. And their effects on your body, and how they interact with each other.

cannabis plant

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids are the compounds produced by the cannabis plant. There can be dozens to more than 100 in a cannabis plant, although the exact number is hard to precisely count. Cannabinoids found in plants are called phytocannabinoids. You will find most of the cannabinoids in the flowers and trichomes. These are different from ‘endocannabinoids’ that are produced by the human body.

What’s important to know is that the cannabinoids we often hear about like THC and CBD don’t exist straightaway. They exist as cannabinoid acids, which must be “activated” by heat (from a flame or through decarboxylation) to turn into the compounds that we want. These cannabinoids are:

  • CBG (Cannabigerol)
  • THC (Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • CBD (Cannabidiol)
  • CBC (Cannabichromene)
  • CBGV (Cannabigerivarin)
  • THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
  • CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
  • CBCV (Cannabichromevarin)

These are the major cannabinoids that are found in CBD products. We’ll go in-depth into their effects.

cbd lab

What do cannabinoids do to our bodies?

Before diving into the different types of cannabinoids, it’s important to understand how they interact with your body. What makes cannabinoids special is that they are the active components of cannabis. The effects that these compounds have on our bodies happen because of the endocannabinoid system in our bodies.

The endocannabinoid system is found in all mammals. This is our body’s system responsible for regulating your basic bodily functions including:

  • Appetite
  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Energy
  • Heart rate
  • Immune response
  • Inflammation
  • Memory
  • Mood 
  • Muscle control 
  • Pain response 
  • Sleep 
  • Thirst

There are specific cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, named the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located in the brain and central nervous system. CB2 receptors can be found in your immune system’s organs and tissues. Each take in cannabinoids in their own way. CB1 receptors tend to react more to the intoxicating effects of THC for example.

Different cannabinoids have different effects on our bodies. These effects tend to be beneficial to our bodies and provide the many benefits we associate with CBD and cannabis products in general. The benefits of CBD we know such as relieving chronic pain, improving mental health, and managing epilepsy, and cancer-related symptoms are well known. The intoxicating effects of cannabinoids are purely down to the presence of THC. Other cannabinoids are not intoxicating like THC, although they can affect how THC affects you. We’ll now explain the specific cannabinoids and their effects.

Cannabinoids and their effects

CBG (Cannabigerol)

A terpene molecule can contain about 10 different carbon atoms that are derived from two separate isoprene units and a single double bond. The hydrocarbons are easily oxidized and the oils that contain terpenes of the highest level, are unable to keep well. Terpenes have aromatic compounds that characterize the odor found in roots, woods, leaves, seeds, fruits, and flowers.

Terpenes contain a lot of functional groups and most of them contain the important hydroxyl groups and make them terpene alcohols. Terpenes are found at less than 1mg/L and are in large quantities in aromatic grapes. These compounds are responsible for their varied character. Free terpenes are more volatile and responsible for aromas. Manufacturers use isolated terpenes to produce the scents and flavors of everyday products such as body products, foods, and perfumes. They are widely used in cosmetics, food, etc., and other biotechnological uses.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is another common cannabinoid that you can find. What’s important to note is that CBD is technically psychoactive. While it’s claimed as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, this is often compared to the intoxicating effects of THC. This is because CBD does affect your mood by easing anxiety and depression. CBD also has the benefit of reducing inflammation and relieving pain. What’s also notable is that CBD shows promise in treating epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psychosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious conditions. This is backed by the World Health Organization which has concluded CBD is exceptionally safe to use.

THC (Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol)

The most well-known out of all the cannabinoids. Delta-9 THC or just THC gets its reputation for its psychoactive effects which are often called the “high” you get from cannabis. While this is the effect recreational users look for, the strong medicinal effects of THC shouldn’t be ignored. THC can offer the highest level of pain relief out of all the cannabinoids. Its mood-boosting ability can help with anxiety and depression. THC also aids with nausea, muscle spasms, and sleep disorders. It also works as an anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antioxidant. It can even help shift metabolism to help avoid weight gain. All these effects mentioned, can be outweighed by the side effects which include mental confusion, short-term memory loss, shifts in time perception, rapid heart rate, lowered coordination, and anxiety.

CBC (Cannabichromene)

CBC is the least common of the regular cannabinoids. What makes it special though is the strong antibiotic properties which can help with resistant infections. It can also help protect the brain from neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN is created when THC ages and degrades, which can happen naturally. This can also happen when THC is heated to high temperatures. CBN has a more sedating effect when combined with THC. This can come in useful for those suffering from insomnia. Other benefits include stimulating appetite, easing glaucoma, fighting inflammation and autoimmune conditions, and as an antibiotic.

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

THCV is a ‘varin’, which is a cannabinoid with fewer carbon atoms. This can result in some different effects compared to the fuller chemical. THCV is noted to give a relaxing, euphoric, and energizing high. It can help block the anxiety-inducing effects of THCV when used together. It’s shown potential as a weight-loss aid, and diabetes treatment. THCV could help new bone cell growth and prevent weakening. It can act as a neuroprotectant.

CBGV (Cannabigerivarin)

CBGV is another varin that has shown promise in acting as an anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and pain reliever.

CBDV (Cannabidivarin)

CBDV is shown to have antiemetic effects which can help with nausea and vomiting. It is also an anticonvulsant, which helps in treating epileptic seizures.

CBCV (Cannabichromevarin)

CBCV is an effective anticonvulsant that can be used to treat brain cancer and epilepsy. It’s not thought to be psychoactive and is believed to be safe for children and adults.

It should be noted that the cannabinoid ‘varins’ are undergoing plenty of research into their effects and benefits. So we should see more detailed information on them in the future.

Conclusion

Cannabinoids offer a wide range of benefits and effects. While there is still much to learn about the full potential of their effects. We can be confident that they can have a positive effect on our bodies and improve our health. While there are hundreds of cannabinoids that exist, we can identify which ones are suitable for us, and seek them out.

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