If you know anything about cannabis, you know that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that gets people high, while CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound that can provide healing effects without the high. In truth, the differences aren’t all that easy to explain — THC does have medicinal applications, especially in stimulating appetite, suppressing nausea and impacting the experience of pain, and despite some studies indicating that CBD can influence neurological processes and pain experience, not all that much is well-understood about CBD.
Still, THC and CBD aren’t the only compounds within cannabis that cause effects; they aren’t the only compounds unique to cannabis, either. Researchers have identified more than 100 unique compounds in cannabis, and most of them aren’t understood in the slightest. However, more attention has been paid to a few more plentiful cannabinoids, and as a result, we know a bit more about what they are and how they work:
There is usually less than 1 percent of CBG (cannabigerol) in most cannabinoids — and that might be because most CBG transforms into other cannabinoids as the plant matures. CBG is often called a “stem cell” cannabinoid because it can morph into CBD, THC and CBC.
Non-psychoactive, before conversion of course, CBG is nonetheless promising as a treatment for a number of conditions, to include pain, inflammation, anxiety and bowel/bladder problems. Perhaps even better, if scientists can grasp what transforms CBG into other cannabinoids, growers might be able to breed extremely high-THC and high-CBD strains.
CBN (cannabinerol) is the only cannabinoid that does not stem from the precursor compound CBG. Instead, it seems that CBN develops as THC decays, so a high CBN content is likely to be present in weed that is steadily going bad and that you might want to replace with a new strain of Arizona marijuana.
Like other lesser-known cannabinoids, research on CBN is scant. Some scientists believe that CBN has a sedative effect, perhaps in and of itself and perhaps as a result of its colocation with certain sedating terpenes. There is also evidence that CBN functions as an antibacterial agent, a neuroprotectant and an appetite stimulant.
CBC (cannabichromene) was discovered more than 50 years ago, but it still isn’t the focus of much cannabinoid study. Non-psychoactive, CBC is nonetheless best known by its close association with THC within the so-called “entourage effect,” which is the popular belief amongst marijuana enthusiasts that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in certain ways to produce a more even-keeled experience.
Though the entourage effect is not confirmed by research, it does seem that CBC plays an important role in a marijuana high. The cannabinoid binds to certain receptors within the endocannabinoid system and encourages the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that relieve pain and provide tranquility. What’s more, some research indicates that CBC stimulates bone growth and inhibits the growth of some tumors, which could be vital in the search for a cancer cure.
Unlike regular THC, THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is only found in some cannabis strains, and though its chemical structure is similar to THC, this cannabinoid has much different physical and mental effects. For example, instead of stimulating appetite, THCV suppresses feelings of hunger; THCV is promising as an anxiety treatment; and THCV might be a useful tool in Alzheimer’s treatment.
THCV is most abundant in landrace sativas, typically strains of African descent. Some examples of high-THCV strains include Durban Poison, Power Plant, Jack the Ripper and Skunk #1. It might be important to note that THCV’s boiling point is higher than THC, so vape enthusiasts will need to dial up the heat to make use of this cannabinoid.
Though it is most often abbreviated to THC, the most plentiful psychoactive cannabinoid is actually called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – which is to differentiate it from other tetrahydrocannabinols within cannabis. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol is another psychoactive cannabinoid present in lower quantities than typical THC. Though the differences between delta-9 and delta-8 aren’t yet well-understood, delta-8-THC could be more promising as a tool in the fight against cancer thanks to its less intense psychoactive effects.
By no means are these the only cannabinoids present in cannabis – they might not even be the only cannabinoids that produce effects or affect a user’s high. Still, if you want to know more about cannabis, expanding your knowledge beyond THC and CBD is key.