Cannabinoids are like building blocks to the cannabis plant, making them essential for people who want to know more about cannabis and what it has to offer. Up until recently, cannabinoids were largely unknown. Now, however, they're a popular topic in the cannabis community.
Understanding cannabinoids can be intimidating, but once filtered out for their unique abilities, they can start to make sense. We want to share five facts about five cannabinoids by explaining what they are, and why they matter to begin with.
What Are Cannabinoids? | Why Do They Matter?
Thanks to the lengthy effort of researchers, we now know a great deal about the nature of these compounds. This means great news for both cannabis users and researchers who crave a deeper understanding of the plant.
Cannabinoids are chemicals that are able to connect with cannabinoid receptors in our body and brain. These cannabinoid receptors can be found in the endocannabinoid system — which is found naturally in the human body.
The endocannabinoid system (also known as the ECS) is in charge of maintaining homeostasis in our internal system — so making sure that it's functioning correctly is crucial for our health. It's responsible for regulating psychological processes such as memory, mood, and appetite to name a few. Without the ECS, many of our normal responses wouldn't work.
Each cannabinoid affects the ECS in a different way. Some can help to ease pain, while others have been said to reduce anxiety levels. The uniqueness of these cannabinoids is what makes them fascinating, and defines why they ‘matter’.
The Different Types of Cannabinoids
The cannabis sativa plant is known to produce hundreds of different compounds — with some remaining unidentified. Although each cannabinoid can bring something unique to the table, there are a handful of cannabinoids that stand-out among the rest. These are referred to the ‘common cannabinoids’ — or, most abundantly found cannabinoids. Explained simply, some cannabinoids are found more predominantly in the plant than others, but depending on the strain of cannabis — and the environment the plant is grown in — the concentration of cannabinoids can vary.
The most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and cannabidivarin (CBDV). Each of the mentioned cannabinoids cause different effects when impacting the ECS — although some can be similar. A good example of cannabinoids uniqueness is THC vs CBD. THC is capable of causing psychoactive effects or a ‘high’ in users, whereas CBD can't.
The top five cannabinoids that have been studied in detail are: THC, CBD, CBN, CBG and THCV. There's an abundance of information on each popular cannabinoid, so narrowing down the most interesting was in our best interest. Without further ado, here are our top five facts about five different cannabinoids.
1. THC Was the Reason for 'Cannaphobia'
If we search through history, you can be sure to find a time that anything cannabis-related was seen as dangerous, frightening, and downright evil. From the marijuana tax act, to the infamous war on drugs, cannabis had been targeted by the government for decades — remember the "this is your brain on drugs" advertisement during the '80s? This is thanks to the well-known cannabinoid, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC is one of the main cannabinoids responsible for getting 'high', which is exactly what the world feared for so long. A negative stigma stuck to cannabis — especially within the last century — and despite the change in its restrictions and legality, the stigma remains to linger.
Thankfully, in the last decade, cannabis has gone from zero to 100. From being seen as a dangerous narcotic drug, to being medically prescribed for ailments and diseases, the transformation of cannabis is something to behold.
There is now no doubt that it is much more than just a psychoactive cannabinoid. THC is now believed to offer relief for chronic pain, improve lung capacity, help regulate and prevent diabetes, help treat depression, and much more. With its natural qualities and its ability to impact the body in a positive way, it is easy to see why opinions have changed.
2. CBD Won’t Get You High, Regardless of How You Take It
CBD is arguably the second most popular cannabinoid after THC. It's in the spotlight for one very important reason— it doesn’t get you high. Unlike THC, CBD isn't capable of causing psychoactive effects in users, no matter how much or how they take it.
The reason it's unable to cause the same effect as THC is because it can't trigger the same cannabinoid receptors. The interesting thing about this fact is that despite the clarity of CBD’s non-psychoactivity, one of the most frequently asked questions is: “will CBD get me high?”. One thing to note is that CBD has been given to children and pets — both of which should never be given psychoactive substances — to help with epilepsy, anxiety, and pain. It hosts most of the same health benefits of THC, but is deemed safe enough for kids and household pets.
There are a host of different ways to take CBD — the trend hasn't died out yet! Because the market is so competitive, businesses are constantly seeking new ways for consumers to use it. Currently, the list is never-ending. You can take CBD by vaping, taking capsules, adding it into food, using infused makeup and beauty products, through energy drinks — where does it end? But the main take-away from this is that you cannot get high under any circumstances, whether you take it orally or not.
3. CBN may be Stronger Than Traditional Antibiotics
There have been studies done on CBN that point to its potential as a potent antibacterial agent. This powerful cannabinoid was tested on strains of MRSA — a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body and is very difficult to treat. It was shown to be stronger and more efficient when compared to traditional antibiotics. Although there is not enough evidence to make CBN the most recommendable option for MRSA, we could see it being used as a natural antibacterial agent in the future.
4. CBG is “the Rolls Royce of Cannabinoids”
Out of all of the cannabinoids known to be produced in the cannabis plant, cannabigerol (CBG) is the most expensive to produce. It may sound strange that one cannabinoid can be more expensive to produce than others, but due to their uniqueness, this becomes possible. The high expense of CBG is due to the fact that it is only found in small amounts in the hemp and cannabis plant.
The expenses that go in to these CBG crops are no small number, which is why CBG is known as the “the Rolls Royce of cannabinoids.” Making it more clear to visualise, James Rowland, CEO of Steve's Goods in Colorado stated that: "It takes thousands of pounds of biomass to create small amounts of CBG isolate … That’s because most hemp only contains minute percentages of CBG, whereas there are now hemp strains that contain 20% CBD in the crop. If the CBG content of the same crop is only 1%, that means you need to extract 20 times the amount of biomass to get the same amount of CBG out."
5. THCV may Stimulate Bone Growth
Thousands of people suffer from osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions, especially in older age. Although the medical options for these conditions are many, there aren’t enough natural alternatives for people who want to take an ‘organic path’. A particular study from 2012 has suggested that THCV could possibly promote growth of new bone cells. However, the research is thin and lacks proper ground-work to prove this statement. For now, it's but a hopeful — yet fascinating — thought.