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Different Cannabinoids & What They Can Do

by Kyriaco Charalambous on January 24, 2022

Cannabis is a broad genus, with marijuana and industrial hemp being the most popular species. It is composed of numerous more than 400 different phytochemicals. More than 60 such compounds are called cannabinoids. Some of these cannabinoids have gained enough popularity because of their incredible therapeutic properties. However, most of these cannabinoids are present at very low levels, and it is pretty challenging to make out the exact benefits they offer to the human body.

Two of the most prevalent cannabinoids found in marijuana are CBD and THC. Both of these are present in a significant quantity and are usually extracted and isolated so that they can be used in different types of products. Let's take a look at the most common cannabinoids of marijuana and their benefits for the human body.

Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

Before we get into the details of cannabinoids and their properties, let's take a look at how they interact with the human body and offer such wholesome effects. Cannabinoids from marijuana can interact with the human endocannabinoid system.    ECS is the prominent cell signalling mechanism of the body that creates a bridge between the brain and the body and maintains homeostasis by carrying out numerous physiological functions. Some of these cannabinoids directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, while others boost the uptake of endogenous cannabinoids produced by the body itself. This interaction improves the performance of the endocannabinoid system as a whole. Some of the most prominent physiological functions carried out by the endocannabinoid system are pain perception, inflammation, memory, reproduction, cognitive function, and immunity.




Popular Cannabinoids of the Cannabis


The first and the most famous cannabinoid of cannabis is delta 9 THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. It is also the most widely and well researched cannabinoid. THC is psychoactive, and the euphoric effect produced by marijuana is mainly because of THC. THC has the potential to bind with the cb1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system and trigger the production of dopamine. Excess presence of dopamine in the blood causes relaxation and euphoric effects that are typically associated with marijuana. Even though a controlled quantity of THC offers health benefits such as pain relief but also causes numerous side effects, including hallucinations, red eyes, and low appetite, etc.


Cannabidiol or CBD is the second most famous cannabinoid usually sourced from industrial hemp as most strains of marijuana offer very little CBD. It has hit the mainstream with its incredible anti inflammatory and analgesic properties. Farm bill 2018 has legalized industrial hemp, which contains less than 0.3 % THC and can be used as a source of CBD. CBD no more lies in the list of prohibited substances, but it can still not be used as a medicine until FDA approves. CBD does not directly bind to the CB2 receptors of ECS; instead, it promotes the production of endocannabinoids produced by the body. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can help reduce unwanted inflammation and pain caused by various health issues.


CBG or cannabigerol is another highly beneficial cannabinoid that occurs in very small quantity. Some strains of marijuana offer up to 1% of CBG only. CBG is taken as the primary building block of many other cannabinoids. Its acidic form CBGA is a precursor molecule that makes other cannabinoids like CBCA, CBDa, and THCa. CBG also offers implausible analgesic, antioxidant, and anti inflammatory properties, which can help us in several ways.


CBC or Cannabichromene is the third most prevalent cannabinoid of marijuana. It was first discovered in 1966 and occurs in a number of cannabis strains. CBC is known to interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Not only this, but it can also affect the TRPA1 and TRPV1 pain receptors. CBC has a mixed molecular formula of both THC and CBD, which is why it can interact with both receptors of the endocannabinoid system; however, it is nonintoxicating and safe as compared to THC. Research has shown that CBC works well if it is combined with other cannabinoids and phytonutrients. It is also conducive to reducing inflammation and pain.


Cannabinol or CBC is considered to be the first isolated cannabinoid of cannabis. It is produced by the marijuana plant when THC degrades due to exposure to light or aging. CBN has sedative effects, which are quite helpful for sleep related issues like insomnia. Generally, CBN rich cannabis is avoided by recreational users as it does not contain much THC. CBN is mildly intoxicating but can help in reducing pain and discomfort caused by severe health issues.


Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid may share a part of its name with THC, but it offers quite different effects. It is non-intoxicating and found only in live and raw cannabis. It is the acidic form of THC and changes to it when exposed to heat, and this process is called decarboxylation. Any cannabis strain will have a lot of THCa if it is not decarboxylated. You can easily find it in raw marijuana products.


Cannabidiol acid is the precursor of CBD. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid usually found in raw hemp or cannabis strains rich in CBD. Upon decarboxylation, CBDa converts to CBD. Scientists have considered CBDa to be useless for humans for a long time, but recent studies have shown that CBDa is also quite helpful for us. CBDa does not directly bind to the endocannabinoid receptors but activates the serotonin receptors found in the brain. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, nausea, mood, and anxiety. CBDa is also a great antidepressant that can help in reducing the symptoms of depression by increasing the level of serotonin in the blood.


Cannabigerolic acid is known to be the mother cannabinoid. Upon decarboxylation, CBGa converts to CBG, CBD, and THC. CBGa is non intoxicating and has shown to be a low infinity antagonist of CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Preliminary research has demonstrated that CBGa might also have an impact on the CB2 receptors making it an essential component of the medical marijuana strains. Since there is very little research on CBGa, we cannot predict its medicinal benefits on it.

Wrap Up

Recreational cannabis users usually go for THC rich strains with a significant quantity of THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana. Medicinal marijuana contains a balanced amount of all essential cannabinoids and other phytonutrients like terpenes, flavonoids, and healthy fatty acids. All these chemical compounds work together synergistically to offer wholesome effects that can help in improving the overall function of the human body.

These cannabinoids are available in different types of products, including edibles, vapes, capsules, topicals, and sprays. Make sure to know the cannabinoid and right dosage before starting it for any health condition. It is also recommended to avoid using cannabinoids with other over the counter medications as it may cause liver toxicity or other serious side effects.

If you intend to use these cannabinoids for any health issue, it is recommended to consult your health care practitioner to be safe from the potential side effects of these compounds.