Anyone reading this article is almost definitely familiar with cannabidiol (CBD), and even delta 9 THC and delta 9 THC. These three compounds all share two key things in common: each naturally occur in the cannabis genus and are all cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are a class of compounds distinctive to cannabis, which has given us both hemp and marijuana. And, they are the only compounds in nature that directly support the body’s endocannabinoid system, which uses cannabinoids by sending them to specific cannabinoid receptors in the body that are in charge of regulating individual processes such as:
- Pain Sensitivity
- Energy Levels
- And more!
Did you know there are, in fact, over 100 individual cannabinoids in cannabis, and each one has distinctive properties that offer unique uses? There is plenty of information out there about CBD, delta 8 and delta 9, but meanwhile, other useful cannabinoids don’t get nearly as much attention…until now.
Only the hemp plant is federally legal and offers a diverse array of cannabinoids that are readily available on today’s market.
Why is Cannabinoid Diversity an Overall Positive Thing?
Cannabinoids don’t just offer their own useful properties to the body – which is exciting in and of itself – they share a synergistic relationship with one another, meaning that taking a diverse array of cannabinoids together can simultaneously deliver the useful properties of each one while amplifying the efficacy of each.
Cannabis experts are encouraging enthusiasts to even consider incorporating more cannabinoids into their daily routines. This allows for an experience closer to the way that “nature intended” so that we can fully experience what the hemp plant has to offer in terms of its multitude of effects.
Examining the Properties of New Cannabinoids
When we say “new,” we don’t mean that these cannabinoids were just invented in some lab. They have always existed in the hemp plant, but only recently have been isolated to discover their distinctive properties and characteristics.
CBG is a minor cannabinoid, making up only about 1% of the chemical composition of hemp, compared to CBD which can exist in 25% of the total plant’s chemical breakdown. A non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBG binds with both CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors in the body.
- CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system,
- CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune and digestive systems.
In other words, CBG can offer a diverse array of effects as its properties interact with all 3 of these bodily systems.
As CBG has become increasingly popular, more studies have been released on its effects.
Study #1: CBG seems to have antibacterial properties that are particularly high. It’s most known for its anti-inflammatory activity, which may be the highest out of any cannabinoid. This means that CBG could be particularly helpful to those dealing with pain caused by inflammation, as well as inflammatory conditions that effect our everyday functionality and wellbeing.
Study #3: Cannabigerol may be helpful to those dealing with glaucoma due to a potential to regulate pressure within the eye, as well as overall vision.
Seek Out CBG if You…
- Have IBS
- Struggle with inflammation
- Have glaucoma
- Want bladder support
- Desire an antibacterial cannabinoid
CBC is a byproduct of cannabigerolic acid, which also convert into CBD and THC. In other words, all three of these cannabinoids share the same predecessor. Cannabichromene has less research behind it than the other two, of course, but we do know that CBC is likely the most effective when it’s taken in combination with either CBD or THC due to its synergistic relationship with these two cannabinoids.
Another non-intoxicating cannabinoid, it’s present in less than 1% of the hemp plant’s chemical composition. And, like CBG, CBC is becoming noted for its potential for the following:
Study #1: Anti-inflammatory activity
Study #2: An antidepressant in combination with CBD and THC. As of now, it’s believed by researchers that CBC could offer the most potent antidepressant properties out of any cannabinoid in cannabis.
Study #3: May act as a compound that stimulates neurogenesis, which is something that it would share in common with cannabidiol and THC. Neurogenesis is the process of birthing new neurons in the brain, and is useful in those who suffer from a variety of neurological conditions including epilepsy, dementia and traumatic brain injury.
Seek Out CBC if You…
- Have low mood
- Have inflammation
- Wish to regulate neurological function
Yet another minor cannabinoid in hemp is CBN, which again is found in less than 1% of the plant’s chemical makeup. Cannabinol is actually a derivative of delta 9 THC. As delta 9 ages in the plant, some of it is converted into CBN. It is important to note that unlike delta 8, a psychoactive derivative of delta 9 created by the same degradation process, CBN is not going to cause a distinctive high, although it does seem to have extremely mild psychoactive activity when taken in high concentrations.
Fascinatingly, cannabinol was the first cannabinoid to be isolated for commercial use, with scientists developing CBN extracts back in the late 19th century. This is because early cannabis researchers believed CBN was what provided psychoactive effects, not THC. Of course, we have learned a lot about cannabinoids since then.
Cannabinol is undoubtedly best known for its uniquely calming properties, which may be even more powerful than those of CBD. Many people choose CBN as their cannabinoid of choice when it comes to managing stress and sleep. For this reason, the majority of hemp formulas that contain added CBN extract are marketed toward bedtime use. However, some hemp researchers believe that CBN on its own cannot produce this type of general effect, as it needs to be taken in combination with THC due to a synergistic relationship between the two compounds.
Like the two cannabinoids we have already covered, CBN offers:
Study #1: Unique antibacterial properties, with some researchers even suggesting that it can actually be used as a topical antibacterial to treat cuts and the like.
Study #2: Neuroprotective properties, as this cannabinoid has been tested for its effects on individuals with neurological disorders. Neuroprotectants are crucial to maintaining a healthy neurological system, as they keep the neural pathways strong and preserve the health of neurons in the brain. Neuroprotectants are particularly useful in those with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative illnesses.
Seek Out CBN if You…
- Desire better sleep
- Experience stress
- Desire a neuroprotectant
- Desire an antibacterial
THCV is yet another minor cannabinoid in hemp that seems to be more abundant in sativa strains than indica strains. Tetrahydrocannabivarin levels are even lower than those of the cannabinoids mentioned above, so to experience its effects, you would really need to take it in its isolated form, which does exist. Despite its association to THC, THCV is a legal cannabinoid.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin seems to be uniquely capable of delivering euphoria-like effects, aiding in focus and concentration, and helping in the creativity department, and it’s no coincidence that these characteristics are commonly associated with sativa strains of cannabis. THCV is notably psychoactive, unlike the other cannabinoids we’ve covered thus far.
Discovered in the 1970s, THCV is sort of a sister cannabinoid to THC, as both come from the predecessor THCA, which, when decarboxylated is split into these two resulting compounds.
THCV has been less studied than CBC, CBN, and CBG, which means we have less information about its properties that can be verified by scientific research.
Another property of THCV that is currently being considered by researchers is its potential to suppress the appetite, which is interesting as THC is known to do quite the opposite. Also, THCV might have a role with pain sensitivity by regulating the pain receptors in the nervous system.
Seek Out THCV if You…
- Desire a mood boost
- Need help concentrating
- Want to start a creative endeavor
- Wish for a psychoactive cannabinoid that’s federally legal
- Want to suppress appetite
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
Now we get to THCA, which is, as we said, the precursor to both THC and THCV. Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid is simply the raw form of these cannabinoids, as it is present before the plant is decarboxylated. Decarboxylation is a process that exposes the plant to a specific level of heat to “activate” the cannabinoids, making them more potent in effects when absorbed into the body. Essentially, THCA is what’s found in the raw hemp flower buds before you light them to smoke.
Interestingly, Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid is not psychoactive, because the high of THC is only possible when the plant has been decarboxylated. Up until recently, in fact, scientists really didn’t care about THCA, as they figured that the raw forms of cannabinoids had basically zero useful properties, as they believed that cannabinoids were only effective after the decarboxylation process is completed.
Now, however, scientists are changing their tune. With a growing interest in the hemp plant, a lot of funding has gone into hemp research, and we are starting to learn more about THCA as a result.
Study #1: Not only does THCA seem to offer unique anti-inflammatory activity, but it also seems to possess a particularly high level of antioxidants. THCA may even help regulate the respiratory system on a level that exceeds the capability of other cannabinoids.
Study #2: Researchers are now finding that THCA may regulate serotonin levels in the brain, which could be useful to those who have depression, and can offer distinctive pain relief while promoting better sleep.
Seek Out THCA if You…
- Struggle with sleep
- Wish to improve your mood
- Desire antioxidants
- Want anti-inflammatory properties
- Wish to explore a cannabinoid that could regulate respiratory function
How to Experience These “New” Cannabinoids
Now that you have a good understanding of these exciting cannabinoids, you’re probably wondering how you can experience their properties for yourself. Well, you actually have a few options. All of these types of products listed below are easy to find on today’s ever-growing hemp market.
#1: Full Spectrum Products
These products contain what’s known as full spectrum hemp extract, which is essentially a fancy way of saying “an extract that contains every chemical compound that’s useful in the hemp plant.” Full spectrum extracts contain every single cannabinoid that occurs in the plant material, and not only that but a diverse array of terpenes, flavonoids, and phytonutrients, which are other useful compounds.
Full spectrum hemp extract contains the naturally occurring levels of the cannabinoids mentioned above, and promotes what’s known as the entourage effect, which is the full synergistic value of the plant that can make the entire experience of taking hemp more effective.
There is one drawback, however – the levels of the cannabinoids listed above are quite low. Now, synergy helps with this somewhat, but ultimately, if you are seeking out particularly potent effects of one of the cannabinoids we have described today, you’ll want to skip to Option #3.
CBD flower is the raw buds of the hemp plant, where all of the cannabinoids in hemp naturally exist. Flower is naturally full spectrum, as it’s the most natural form of hemp that there is. Flower can be smoked, vaped or even used to make edibles, and is widely available on today’s market in different strains for different micro-effects.
Flower, like full spectrum hemp products, will only give you the cannabinoids we have discussed today in their naturally occurring levels, which are relatively low. Flower does encourage the same entourage effect described above, but again, if you, say, want a potent dose of CBN due to its distinctive properties, you’ll want to choose the next option.
#3: Products Enhanced with Cannabinoid Concentrates
CBG, CBC, CBN, THCV, and THCA can all be isolated through various means, with the most common method being steam distillation which gently isolates the specific cannabinoid that’s desired. What this means is that you can find products that contain concentrated amounts of any of these cannabinoids.
It is not unusual to come across, say, a tincture that combines CBD with a concentrated level of CBG that comes from the addition of a CBG isolate added to the formula. This means that if you believe that one of these five cannabinoids is the most likely to give you the results you’re looking for, you should search for a product that is enhanced with an extract made from the isolated cannabinoid in question.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Seeking Out Purified Forms of These Cannabinoids
#1: Each Person’s Experience is Unique
As is the case with CBD, all of these cannabinoids can ultimately behave differently in each individual. For instance, some people may find that CBG offers them dramatic relief, while others may wonder what all of the fuss is about. While none of them are nontoxic, the actual results you can get can vary from person to person.
#2: Isolated Cannabinoids are Priced According to Prominence in the Plant Material
If you decide to seek out isolated forms of these cannabinoids, remember that they will be priced differently according to the levels in which they naturally occur in hemp. The price represents how much plant material needs to be used to produce the right concentration of an individual cannabinoid. For example, CBG levels are higher in hemp than THCV, so it costs less to make a CBG extract because less plant material needs to be used to render the right amount of pure Cannabigerol.
#3: Some Isolates are Harder to Find Than Others
Also, some isolates are less prominent on the hemp market than others. CBG and CBN are extremely popular and therefore easier to find than, say, THCV or THCA.
#4: We Don’t Know Much About Dosing and Long-Term Effects, Yet
Note that these cannabinoids have less research behind them than CBD, delta 8 and delta 9, and this means that we have less information about their long-term safety, as well as the proper dosing amounts that are appropriate for the endocannabinoid system. No dangerous negative effects have been reported after consuming any of these cannabinoids, but overall, you’ll find that there is less guidance out there when it comes to managing a routine with these five compounds in a way that’s both safe and effective.
Every Cannabinoid is Unique, and Useful in Its Own Way
CBG, CBC, CBN, THCV and THCA each play a crucial role in giving the hemp plant its diverse array of properties. That being said, none of these cannabinoids should be overlooked, as they each offer something that makes them unique from other compounds in the hemp plant.
Remember once again, those are just a few of over 100 individual cannabinoids found in hemp. As the hemp industry continues to grow, we will be talking about additional cannabinoids as time goes on.