Cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years in a number of cultures around the world. In recent decades, countries and U.S. states alike have been legalizing the recreational and medical use of cannabis. At the same time, an increasing amount of research has been done on the potentially therapeutic benefits of marijuana.
While you’ve likely heard of THC and CBD, cannabis is actually composed of at least 113 distinct cannabinoids in addition to other compounds.
What are the different types of cannabinoids, and what should you know about them?
Let’s dive in and take a look at what you need to know.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a class of active chemical compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. They are produced in the plant’s resin glands. The two cannabinoids you’ve probably heard of are THC and CBD, but there are actually dozens of other cannabinoids if not more.
Believe it or not, cannabinoids are also produced naturally in the human body. However, these cannabinoids are known as endocannabinoids rather than the phytocannabinoids that occur in cannabis. What this means is that we don’t end up feeling “high” from the cannabinoids that our own body produces.
However, phytocannabinoids from cannabis do interact with what is known as our endocannabinoid system. This system is thought to play an important role in a number of different bodily functions such as appetite, mood, and sleep.
What Are the Different Types of Cannabinoids?
When you start learning about cannabinoids, you’ll often find reports that there are dozens of cannabinoids in marijuana and other reports that say there are more than 100 phytocannabinoids. The truth is, an exact number has simply not been pinned down by researchers at this point.
Many of the cannabinoids present in the plant occur in trace amounts. This can make it very hard to accurately detect them. What is known is that there are a lot of cannabinoids that are present at very low levels.
Let’s take a look at some of the major cannabinoids that are produced by the cannabinoid acids that are produced by cannabis. (What can we say… it’s complicated!)
If you’ve heard of any of the cannabinoids, then you’ve probably heard of THC. This is marijuana’s main psychoactive compound that gives you the mind-altering experience the drug is known for.
THC is believed to have medicinal benefits including helping to relieve pain, ease nausea and vomiting, and working as an effective sleep aid.
There have even been studies that have shown that THC might be effective in treating disorders like PTSD. On top of that, THC might promote brain growth, protect brain cells, and work as an anti-inflammatory. Once you start going down the rabbit hole of the potential benefits of THC, you might not ever find the bottom.
CBD has been gaining popularity in recent years, but it was actually discovered all the way back in 1940. This is the second most prevalent cannabinoid after THC and is thought to have a lot of therapeutic and medicinal benefits.
People use CBD for a wide variety of reasons, including pain relief, inflammation, anxiety, and depression. At this point, though, there is only one drug that is approved by the FDA that contains CBD. This is a drug that is specifically for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy.
This cannabinoid is often lovingly referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids.” This is because the acidic form of CBG, known as CBGA, is the acid from which many other cannabinoids derive.
CBG is thought to have a number of potential benefits. This includes helping with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and Huntington’s disease. Additionally, it is thought to have antibacterial properties and might also show promise in helping to fight cancer cells.
CBC stems from CBGA the same way that THC and CBD do. This is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid because it doesn’t bind to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, or at least not well. However, it is thought that CBC has medical potential when it comes to pain and inflammation, cancer, depression, brain function, and even acne.
CBC actually results from the heating and aging process of another cannabinoid, CBCA.
A Quick Note About the Entourage Effect
There is a theory about the effectiveness of different cannabinoids known as the entourage effect. This effect refers to the notion that cannabinoids each work better when working in tandem with other cannabinoids. It is well known that THC and CBD seem to enhance each other, but it is also thought that other cannabinoids share this effect.
For example, CBC is believed to work synergistically with some of the other cannabinoids. This means that, while there are some singular benefits attributed to CBC, it might be better to use it in conjunction with other cannabinoids.
We Have a Lot More to Learn About Cannabinoids
Well, we’ve barely cracked the surface on the different types of cannabinoids. The reality is that researchers don’t even know exactly how many cannabinoids there are, and many of them haven’t been the subject of the type of scientific studies and attention as THC and CBD. However, this list is a good starting place for learning about cannabinoids, as these are some of the better-studied and more prevalent types of cannabinoids.
Did you find this article about the different types of cannabinoids interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of my blog for more content that’s interesting and entertaining!