When we talk about cannabinoids, we mostly talk about THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). It makes sense of course; THC and CBD are the most abundant cannabinoids found in marijuana and of all the cannabinoids we know the most about them. That being said, there are numerous other cannabinoids that are found in marijuana, and researchers are continuing to discover more. Though products that are high in these other cannabinoids are limited in the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program, they still have a presence in a number of strains and products, and it is absolutely worth learning more about them.
What We Know
As a quick refresher, let’s discuss THC and CBD. THC is that well-known compound that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Beyond that, it is known for having anti-inflammatory properties, stimulating appetite, and reliving pain. Alternatively, CBD is the non-psychoactive compound that can not only reduce some of the psychoactive (and sometimes uncomfortable) effects of THC, but can also be great for anxiety relief, seizure treatment, and mood. While this is only the surface of the two cannabinoids, you can learn more about them here. That being said, it’s time we dive into some of these other cannabinoids.
Before THC becomes THC, it starts as THCa, and then degrades into THC once heat is applied to it. You may have noticed on the labels on dry flower, the testing will say there is 0.5% THC (for example) and 24.5% (again, just an example) THCa. This is because that THCa hasn’t degraded into THC yet, and it won’t until there is heat applied to it. THCa also is not psychoactive, and it won’t be until it is decarboxylated (cooked) into THC. The research on THCa is limited, but preliminary research has found that it may have potential anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, neuroprotective, and anti-proliferative properties.
Similar to THCa, CBDa degrades with heat and turns into CBD. Also similarly, there is little research available on CBDa, however by the knowledge we have so far, CBDa may potentially be a pain reliever for pain associated with inflammation. Additionally, CBDa has been found to affect serotonin levels, in that it may help reduce nausea and vomiting. It is also often used in creams and lotions for its skin benefits.
THCv is of interest to many in the medical marijuana community because of its potential as an appetite suppressant. It is usually sought after by patients in an effort to curb the appetite increase that often comes with THC, also giving it the potential to help with weight loss and diabetes. However, some other patients who need to have their appetite stimulated may look to avoid this cannabinoid. THCv has also demonstrated a potential to be an anxiety-reliever.
Though CBG may be a more minor cannabinoid, it plays a major role! THC, CBD, and CBC all derive from CBG. So far, CBG has also demonstrated potential in helping a number of ailments. It has shown to reduce intestinal inflammation, making it a good thing to look for in patients with IBD, and it has also shown neuroprotective properties in Huntington’s Disease. It has also demonstrated an ability to reduce intraocular pressures, making it a considerable option for patients with glaucoma, as well as inhibiting the growth of new cancer cells in patients with cancer. For some though, CBG can increase levels of anxiety, so others prone to anxiety may consider avoiding it.
CBC does not bind well with cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, so it works best in tandem with THC and CBD, also meaning you are not likely to find high CBC products. With that in mind, CBC has demonstrated neurogenesis (brain cell growth), which can be helpful for patients with Alzheimer’s. Like CBG, it also has shown potential in inhibiting the growth of new cancer cells and when used with THC and CBD, and can possibly be a helpful antidepressant. One of its unique qualities is that in reducing inflammation and blocking sebum production, it can help treat acne!
CBN has very mild to no psychoactive effects, and is formed through the degradation of THC as it is exposed to the sun, humidity, or just generally over time. That being said, CBN is the most sedating cannabinoid, which can make it a potentially very helpful sleep aid. CBN is also an appetite stimulant, which can be helpful for patients who are suffering from a lost appetite or want to gain some weight. Similarly, it has the potential to reduce pain, inflammation, and intraocular pressures in patients with glaucoma, though more research is required.
Though these cannabinoids don’t always come in quite the abundance that THC and CBD do, they still play a large role in the effect that medical marijuana products and strains may have on you. If any of these cannabinoids sound interesting though, your dispensary technician will have access to a strain or product’s testing, and see if one of these cannabinoids is present in it! Information is also available on the label of any of the medical marijuana products you purchase in Pennsylvania. Even with this information though, these cannabinoids are just the beginning of what more there is to discover with medical marijuana!