Recreational cannabis legalization is still an expectation for many under first-term New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and with that, comes a plethora of recreational products and new laws. Meanwhile, he is already working on medical expansion.
Soon, people 21 or older will be able to walk into a dispensary and purchase recreational weed, beverages, and edibles, as well as concentrates. Despite the fact that most people have at least heard of THC, or maybe CBD, there are many other cannabinoids, one hundred and eleven, in fact, at last count. Recent research continually highlights the benefits for the human body from cannabinoids interacting with the human endocannabinoid system. We’ll cover what some of the most popular ones are, as well as what these cannabinoids can do for you!
The first cannabinoid up for discussion is cannabigerolic acid. CBGA is the precursor to the three main cannabinoid lines: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). CBGA also turns into CBG. Enzymes in the plant break down and then direct the CBGA to one of the three lines.
So what is CBG then, if CBGA is the precursor to three groups of cannabinoids already? Well, add heat or ultraviolet light, and there you have the synthesis needed to convert CBGA to CBG to then either THCA or CBDA.
CBG is the parent chemical of both THC and CBD, two of the most well-known cannabinoids! The chemical works on both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which is interesting, if you consider how THC and CBD react on those receptors-counterbalancing each other. CBG itself is found in plants at trace amounts, usually only about 1%.
Growers are using genetic mutation to come up with plants that contain more CBG as it is thought to be very useful medically. For example, CBG aids in the treatment of glaucoma, because it relieves intraocular pressure. It has also been shown to help with inflammation caused by Inflammatory Bowel Disease. In mice, it proved to be a neuroprotectant for those with Huntington’s disease. CBG has also been used in the fight against cancer– it blocks receptors, thereby inhibiting cancer cell growth. CBG has strong antibacterial properties, as it proved to stand up well against MRSA. Unfortunately, as you can see, there have yet to be human studies regarding CBG, largely due to federal regulations regarding the cannabis plant.
The next, and probably most well-known of the cannabinoids, is THC, tetrahydrocannabinol. THC was first discovered by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Dr. Yehiel Gaoni, and Dr. Haviv Eder, Israeli scientists, in 1964. This is the cannabinoid most people look at when considering their cannabis. THC produces the euphoric feeling one experiences under the influence of cannabis. What is THC good for? To start, THC is a neuroprotectant, which means it’s a good medicine for Multiple Sclerosis, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown THC actually helps to protect certain areas of the brain better than those who don’t use cannabis. THC is also vital in the use of cancer treatments. Additionally, THC is used to treat herpes, skin conditions such as psoriasis, arthritis, HIV/AIDS (in conjunction with other therapies), and taken in small doses, has been known to improve memory.
Another compound, called THCA, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is THC that has not been decarboxylated, a heating process that activates cannabinoids in the plant. THCA is found on raw or living cannabis and has been a recent hot topic in the cannabis community due to its many proposed health benefits sans the psychoactive effects of THC. THCA is thought to effectively act like THC for nausea and loss of appetite, as an anti-inflammatory, a neuroprotectant, and has been known to inhibit cancer cell growth. Some also suggest that THCA can aid in insomnia, muscle spasms and pain- all without the crazy high! How does one take THCA? Some dispensaries sell them as crystals, some people also juice or otherwise consume raw cannabis to gain the benefits of THCA.
Over time, THCA will turn into CBNA with exposure to air. Once CBNA is heated, it turns into cannabinol or CBN. CBN is useful for pain relief, insomnia, promoting bone cell growth, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, as well as stimulation of the appetite. Researchers have found that 5 mg of CBN is equal to 10 mg diazepam! Unfortunately, CBN is only found to reach about 1% in dried flower. So, looking forward, you would need to seek out a product that has concentrated CBN.
The next big player on the list is CBDA, which is CBD before decarboxylation. CBD is made from CBDA, and CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid is useful for the treatment of Dravet syndrome as well as other forms of epilepsy, inflammation, pain, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and estrogen present tumors, such as breast cancer. Where THCA is usually found in concentrations of 20% on average, CBDA or CBD is usually found in much lower concentrations. A high amount of CBD would range at about 4%-15% in dried flower.
The last of the popular cannabinoids to be addressed is CBCA, Cannabichromenenic acid, or CBC when activated into that neutral compound we were talking about. As mentioned above, in the section on CBGA, CBCA comes from the synthesis of CBGA in the trichomes of the plant. Once CBGA makes CBCA, the plant may be treated with heat, producing CBC.
CBC, or cannabichromene does not bind very well to either cannabinoid receptor, but it does play a pretty neat role. Because CBC does not bind well to CB1, it is not psychoactive. CBC also does not bind well to CB2. However, because CBC is active, though weakly on both receptors, it is able to stimulate the endocannabinoid system indirectly by influencing anandamide as well as 2-AG,(CB2) natural cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids.
CBC has been looked at regarding its anti-fungal, anti-depressant properties, and even things like acne treatment and anti-inflammatory abilities.
There you have it, the basic cannabinoids and their functions! As many articles have come out about the benefits of red wine, there is, fortunately, more proof coming out on the benefits of cannabis lately. So, spark a doob, or juice your leaves, and enjoy your green!