Cannabis has different effects on the body when consumed. These effects are usually dependent on the type of cannabis used. As you already know, there are a lot of strains to choose from.
What makes the strains different are a set of chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant. These chemical compounds have all been grouped together under a single name – cannabinoids.
What are Cannabinoids?
Like I have mentioned earlier, cannabinoids are used in reference to a class of diverse chemical compounds which influence the behavior and mood if ingested, smoked or vaped.
Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoids receptors (Cb1 and CB2) in the brain in such a way that they alter different neurotransmitter releases from the brain.
What this means is that various cannabinoids are usually specific in action, seeking out the brain for effect.
Classes of Cannabinoids
There are two main classes of cannabinoids. They are:
These are cannabinoid compounds found all over our bodies. They are naturally synthesized in the body and are usually found in trace amounts.
While these cannabinoids are very different from those that are found in the marijuana plant, they interact with the body in the same way – via the cannabinoid receptors of the brain.
These are other types of cannabinoids present in nature but not created in the human body. The prefix “Phyto-“ depicts that they are found in plants i.e. marijuana plants.
So far, scientists have been able to identify as much as 113 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and that is not even all of it.
Cannabinoids and Cannabis
We cannot possibly talk about all the cannabinoids that are present in the cannabis plant. Even though there are up to 113 different cannabinoids, yet only a few of them have been researched extensively — because the majority of these cannabinoids are in very small quantities.
Various cannabinoids found in cannabis
There are seven major active cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant.
You have probably heard the abbreviation THC used occasionally with marijuana. ‘Tetrahydrocannabinol’ (THC) is the most active psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
THC produces the high effect by binding to the CB1 receptors in the brain. By doing that, it alters the rate of chemical release in the body.
Such alterations will include the increase of dopamine formation which creates a sense of euphoria.
There are possible side effects that could be developed from the use of THC. Many have reported dryness in their mouth, short-term memory losses, bloodshot eyes, and increased heart rates.
Every other thing that comes with enjoying weed – alteration in memory, improvement of mood, improved perception, and cognition, to mention but a few – are all as a result of THC.
These effects are usually sought out and concentrated for extraction by the users of recreational cannabis. With new research though, the therapeutic effects of this cannabinoid are being unlocked on a daily basis for medical marijuana users too.
In fact, THC help in reducing nausea and vomiting caused by certain ailments.
If there is any other cannabinoid you know asides THC, it has to be CBD. You should have guessed by now that it is the same compound that answers to ‘Cannabidiol’ when pronounced in full. Even though they are both found in the same plant, CBD is reported to decrease the effects of THC in the body.
It is quite interesting to know how the weed plant has compounds that counteract each other.
CBD has received a lot of applaud in the medical world for a combination of two reasons – the lack of psychoactive effects and a lot of medical benefits. CBD, unlike THC, does not have an affinity for the CB1 and even CB2 receptors of the brain. Thus, it does create psychotropic effects. Rather, CBD can be used for the treatment of patients suffering from psychological disorders (i.e. epilepsy) or used for protecting the condition of the brain after an injury. One thing that CBD shares in common with THC is the fact that they both help in reducing pain and inflammation.
Not to be confused with the compound above, the presence of cannabinol in a cannabis plant is dependent on how much degradation the THC in the plant has undergone. That is why so little of this compound is found in fresh plants, however, it’s presence increases as the cannabis plant starts deteriorating in storage.
Exposure to light and air will cause the degradation of THC in weed. Likewise, the fact that Cannabinol is linked to THC means that it also has psychoactive ingredients to an extent. However, it prefers to bind to the CB2 receptors in the brain rather than take the same CB1 pathway as THC.
Despite the fact that a large amount of cannabinol compounds means the weed has gone bad, it has diverse applications in the medical line.
Cannabinol will help in the reduction of anxiety, function as a sedative and work as an antibiotic. It has also been used as an analgesic in some instances.
Cannabigerol abbreviated (CBG) is often referred to as ‘mother cannabinoid.’ 1% or less of this compound is found in the cannabis plant.
CBG usually converts to other forms of cannabinoids – mainly THC and CBD – after production. That is what makes them so important.
Recreational cannabis users might be excited by the idea of a cannabinoid working hard to increase the THC content in their strains by converting itself. Similarly, medical users might find that fascinating too.
Research has linked CBG as a promising avenue into the treatment of cancer, pain, anxiety, inflammation and a host of bladder and bowel diseases
From the name, Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) can be seen to bear some semblance in name to THC. As a matter of fact, many have confused it to act the same way as THC (cause psychotropic effects).
Some researchers have come to the conclusion, THVC, like CBD also reduces the effects of THC (negative modulators) at the CB1 receptors of the brain (via direct blockage). Other researches have pointed out that THVC on its own is even more potent than THC. By potent, they mean it gives short bursts of intense high to users.
A research conclusion which aims to strike a balance between these above two is one that states THVC could be a cross between CBD and THC. The CBD aspect of it is what brings about the dampening effects it supplies to THC. However, when consumed in large enough doses, its THC side kicks into action to give that intense, short-lived high.
Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is one cannabinoid which has absolutely no psychoactive effects on the brain. As such, there are no legal restrictions on how much of these an individual can consume, buy or carry at any one time.
That is also the same reason why pharmas are working towards applying this active ingredient in the treatment of child and adult epilepsy. It also has promising properties that can be used for anti-nausea medications.
It is one of the minor chemical compounds in the cannabis plant.
Cannabichromene (CBC) takes a page from the books of CBD for not being a psychoactive substance. Unlike CBD though, CBC will do nothing to affect the impact of THC on the CB1 receptors. Rather CBC supplements THC in helping it gain more anti-inflammatory potency.
Usually found in tropical varieties of cannabis, CBC has shown potential in the elimination of tumors from breast cancer cases.
Having examined seven of the most common cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, we hope this helps you see your plant in a newer light than before. Now, you know where everything goes, what leads to what and why your weed acts on you the way it does.
With this knowledge, you will also be able to choose the best cannabis products for yourself when next you’re out buying.