You might know about CBD and THC, but the cannabis plant offers a lot more cannabinoids than those two. Scientists have currently identified 113 different cannabinoids, all with different properties.
There are eight major cannabinoids, which appear in varying levels. THC and CBD are by far the most abundant, but scientists are discovering that other cannabinoids contribute to different effects.
Here are eight popular cannabinoids—including THC and CBD—and what they can do for you.
What is a cannabinoid?
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), and cannabinoids are chemical compounds which interact with it. Cannabinoids work with the body’s ECS to create physiological and behavioral affects (as anyone who has consumed a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s in one sitting can tell you).
There are multiple ways to receive cannabinoids, including injections, smoking, vaping, pills, topicals and more. When you take cannabinoids, your liver metabolizes them to produce the behavioral and physiological effects.
Today, researchers are focusing on the lesser known cannabinoids, to isolate which effects are associated with each type. This may help scientists develop better medicines and supplements to address everything from anxiety to weight loss and epilepsy. With selective breeding, growers can try to increase the amount of certain cannabinoids in the plant.
8 types of cannabinoids and what they can do for you
Here are eight of the most promising cannabinoids:
- CBG (Cannabigerol): This is the “mother” of THC and CBD—a chemical precursor. There’s less than one percent of CBG in cannabis plants, but it’s responsible for the medicinal benefits you can receive from cannabis.
- THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol): You’re undoubtedly familiar with THC. It’s the cannabinoid that’s responsible for producing a “high” sensation when you use marijuana. THC encourages the brain to release dopamine, but also affects your memory, perception and movement. Interestingly enough, THC has 20 times the anti-inflammatory properties as aspirin.
- CBD (Cannabidiol): CBD offers health benefits without the high. You probably know that CBD is good for calming anxiety and soothing depression. It’s also good for pain relief and as an anti-inflammatory.
- CBC (Cannabichromenene): CBC is the third most common cannabinoid in cannabis, sometimes overtaking CBD. It’s non-intoxicating, and works to eliminate tumors, encourage new cell growth and reduce inflammation.
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid): CBDA shows promise as an anti-depressant, even more so than CBD. It’s also non-intoxicating, and can activate the brain’s serotonin receptors. This is great news for anyone who suffers from depression but doesn’t like over-the-counter antidepressants.
- CBN (Cannbinol): CBN is produced when THC breaks down over time. (Usually, that means someone’s got some stale weed.) However, there’s a plus side to the breakdown: it produces a sedative effect that could be more effective than taking 10mg of Valium. It’s ideal if you have insomnia.
- CBDV (Cannabidivarin): CBDV is being researched as a possible anticonvulsant, which can be used in epilepsy treatments. It can also provide some pain relief. While more research is needed on its neurological effects, this could be a promising new treatment.
- THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin): While THCV has some potentially intoxicating properties, there’s so little of it in cannabis that you won’t get high from this cannabinoid alone. Right now, scientists have concluded that its most useful property is as an appetite suppressant.
Are cannabinoids legal?
You probably know that cannabis legality is a complex issue—while it’s still a controlled substance under federal law, an increasing number of states are making it legal. Another facet of the issue involves CBD: under the Farm Bill legislation, CBD produced from hemp plants is federally legal, while CBD produced from marijuana is not, even though they’re chemically identical.
While you should be able to track down legal CBD, the other cannabinoids mentioned may not be legally available in your area. It’s also important to note that many of them are still in research stages—it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to locate THCV to use as a weight loss aid right now, or get CBDV to control your epilepsy.
It’s always advisable to talk to your doctor about potential new supplements and treatments before you start using them. They may be able to give you information about new drug research and development, but more importantly, they’ll tell you whether there are any harmful interactions with your current medications and supplements. Use common sense—and do the research to find out what’s legal in your area.