Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with receptors in the brain and body to create various effects. There exist dozens, and potentially more than 100, cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but THC is most widely known among these due to its abundance and psychoactive attributes.
Because humans (and many other animals) have receptor systems that THC binds to, we can also reap the benefits of cannabinoids for both health and enjoyment. This system, called the endocannabinoid system (or ECS), is a group of specialized signaling chemicals (think “keys”), their receptors (think “locks”), and the metabolic enzymes that produce and break them down. These endocannabinoid chemical signals act on some of the same brain and immune cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) that plant cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act on.
THC – TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person's memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception, according to NIDA.
THC is one of many compounds found in the resin secreted by glands of the marijuana plant. More of these glands are found around the reproductive organs of the plant than on any other area of the plant. Other compounds unique to marijuana, called cannabinoids, are present in this resin. One cannabinoid, CBD is non-psychoactive, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and actually blocks the high associated with THC.
THC has many medicinal benefits. There are a variety of conditions for which THC may offers benefits:
• Neuropathic and chronic pain
• Crohn’s disease
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Multiple sclerosis
• Sleep apnea
• Appetite loss
Cannabis research remains in the early stages, and it is very likely that as this research continues to gain traction and grow with the advancement of legalization, our understanding of how THC and other cannabinoids can be utilized for the treatment of these and other conditions will expand. New research continues to emerge consistently.
Live Science, 2018. Retrieved on 012318 online from https://www.livescience.com/24553-what-is-thc.html .
Leafly, 2018. Retrieved on 012318 online from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-tetrahydrocannabinol .
CBD – CANNABIDIOL
Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. The fact that CBD-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.
Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere. Further evidence suggests that CBD is safe even at high doses.
Project CBD responds to inquiries from all over the world. Almost everyone wants to know where to get CBD-rich products and how to use them for maximum benefit. After decades in which only high-THC cannabis was available in North America and beyond, CBD-rich strains and products are now available to medical users.
“CBD-rich” versus “CBD dominant:” By “CBD-rich,” we mean a cannabis strain or product that has equal amounts of CBD and THC, or more CBD than THC (usually at least 4 percent CBD by dry weight.). By “CBD-dominant,” we mean strains or products that are CBD-rich but have very little THC content.
Project CBD, 2018. Retrieved online on 012318 from https://www.projectcbd.org/about/what-cbd.
CBG – CANNABIGEROL
CBG has been found to act on very specific physiological systems and problems, and results for medicinal use are promising:
- Endocannabinoid receptors are prevalent in eye structures, and interestingly, CBG is thought to be particularly effective in treating glaucoma because it reduces intraocular pressure. It is a powerful vasodilator and has neuroprotective effects to boot.
- In animal experiments involving mice, CBG was found to be effective in decreasing the inflammation characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease.
- In a recent 2015 study, CBG was shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, which is characterized by nerve cell degeneration in the brain.
- CBG is showing great promise as a cancer fighter. Specifically, CBG was shown to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth. In one such study, it was shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice, thereby slowing colon cancer growth. CBG inhibited tumors and chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis, therefore demonstrating a very exciting possibility for a cure for colorectal cancer.
- European research shows evidence that CBG is an effective antibacterial agent, particularly against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) microbial strains resistant to several classes of drugs. Since the 1950s, topical formulations of cannabis have been effective in skin infections, but researchers at the time were unaware of the plant’s chemical composition.
- In a very recent 2017 study, researchers showed that a form of CBG purified to remove delta-9 THC was a very effective appetite stimulant in rats. This may lead to a novel non-psychotropic therapeutic option for cachexia, the muscle wasting and severe weight loss seen in late stage cancer and other diseases.
- In a study that looked at the effects of five different cannabinoids on bladder contractions, CBG tested best at inhibiting muscle contractions, so it may be a future tool in preventing bladder dysfunction disorders.
Leafly, 2018. Retrieved online on 012318 from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-cbg-cannabinoid .
CBC – CANNABICHROMENE
BC’s Medicinal Potential
The purported benefits of CBC have far-reaching implications. Below are a few medical conditions that may be alleviated by cannabichromene.
Cannabichromene may be a powerful cancer fighter, and the reason might be its interaction with the body’s natural endocannabinoid, anandamide. CBC also appears to inhibit the uptake of anandamide, allowing it to remain longer in the bloodstream.
A recent study in which tumor growth was initiated in mice (two-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis model) showed cannabinoids might be effective in inhibiting both inflammation and tumor growth. Since anandamide has been shown to fight breast cancer in vitro and in vivo, this shows promise that CBC and other cannabinoids might one day be a chemopreventive agent.
CBC as a potential cancer fighter was first published in a 2006 study that looked at cannabinoids other than THC and their possible effects on cancer. While THC is known for its anti-tumor properties for several different forms of cancer, its powerful psychotropic qualities can make it difficult for chemotherapy use. So far, research has found CBC to be the second-most-potent cannabinoid at inhibiting the growth of new cancer cells (CBG was the most potent).
Pain and Inflammation
PAIN AND INFLAMMATION
Cannabichromene has been shown to block pain and inflammation associated with collagen-induced osteoarthritis. Cannabinoids like CBC act on inflammation differently than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do, and don’t have the side effects of these medications. In another example of the entourage effect, CBC in combination with THC had significant anti-inflammatory response in a recent animal study; together, the two cannabinoids produced a much greater effect on inflammation than by themselves.
In a 2013 mouse study, CBC had a positive effect on neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs), a cell essential to healthy brain function. NSPCs became more viable when in the presence of CBC, and that shows promise because NSPCs differentiate into astroglial cells, the most important cells for maintaining brain homeostasis. The astroglial cells perform a whole host of functions, including neurotransmitter direction and defending against oxidative stress. Astroglia counteract many of these issues—oxidative stress, inflammation, toxicity—that create neurological diseases and brain pathologies like Alzheimer’s disease.
A research team that had previously shown CBD’s effect on acne studied other cannabinoids, including CBC, for the same effects. Indeed, CBC was shown to be a powerful inhibitor of acne. As a skin disease, acne is characterized by excess sebum production and sebaceous gland inflammation. It turns out that CBC exhibited powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also suppressed excessive lipid production in the sebaceous glands. CBC also reduced levels of arachidonic acid (AA), which is needed to create the lipogenesis. More research is needed, but CBC might just one day become a very powerful anti-acne treatment.
In another amazing display of the entourage effect, CBC appears to work in conjunction with both THC and CBD to deliver a trifecta of antidepressant properties.
Cannabis and Depression
The therapeutic promise of CBC is important and requires more research to determine its power by itself as well as with other cannabinoids working together for an entourage effect. Cannabis patients today are limited in the products available to them, but hopefully as new studies emerge and cannabis laws loosen, new medicines with a diversity of cannabinoids will soon become an option.
Leafly, 2018. Retrieved on 012318 online from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-cannabichromene-cbc-cannabinoid .
CBN – CANNABINOL
Its name may bear striking resemblance to CBD, but cannabinol, or CBN, offers a unique profile of effects and benefits that have researchers clamoring for more scientific investigation. So far, CBN’s studied benefits include:
• Pain relief
• Promotes growth of bone cells
• Appetite stimulant
CBN’s most pronounced, characterizing attribute is its sedative effect, and according to our friends at Steep Hill Labs, 5mg of CBN is as effective as 10mg dose of diazepam, a mild pharmaceutical sedative. For those of you who rely on cannabis to resolve a night of tossing and turning, a little CBN might do you some good.
Leafly, 2018. Retrieved on 012318 online from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-cbn-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabinoid .
Terpenes are fragrant essential oils secreted in differing concentrations in different cannabis strains alongside cannabinoids like THC and CBD. These compounds are what impart cannabis varieties with distinctive aromas and flavors such as berry, pine, pineapple and diesel. Besides affecting aroma and flavor, there is some evidence suggesting that they may also modify cannabis’s effects.
Myrcene (or β-myrcene) is a terpene that occurs often in highly fragrant plants and herbs such as mangoes, hops, bay laurel leaves, thyme, lemongrass, and basil. Myrcene is produced by numerous cannabis strains, and some have suggested that it lends sedative, indica-like effects (including “couch-lock”) to strains containing more than 0.5% of this terpene.
Myrcene’s Effects and Benefits
• Analgesic (pain relief)
Linalool is a naturally occurring terpene found in many flowers and spices including lavender and coriander. It gives off a complex yet delicate floral aroma, and while its effects are myriad, it is in particular one of the substances used most widely to reduce stress.
Linalool’s Effects and Benefits
The terpene bisabolol (also known as α-Bisabolol or levomenol) is a fragrant chemical compound produced by the chamomile flower and other plants such as the candeia tree in Brazil. It is also produced by various cannabis strains.
Bisabolol’s Effects and Benefits
Caryophyllene (or β-Caryophyllene) is a spicy, peppery terpene found in many different edible plants. Spices like black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, as well as herbs like oregano, basil, hops, and rosemary, are known to exhibit high concentrations of caryophyllene. Due to its affinity to the peripheral CB2 receptors, caryophyllene often appears in anti-inflammatory topicals and salves.
Caryophyllene has the following potential medical benefits:
• Anti-inflammatory and analgesic
• Alcohol craving reduction
• Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant
Humulene naturally occurs in clove, basil, hops, and cannabis sativa. It carries a subtle earthy, woody aroma with spicy herbal notes you might recognize in some of your favorite strains. Though cannabis is commonly associated with appetite simulation, humulene is actually known to suppress hunger.
Humulene’s other potential effects include:
Leafly, 2018. Retrieved on 012318 online from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/humulene-caryophyllene-and-trans-nerolidol-what-are-the-benefits .
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