A Guide to Cannabinoids
The Cannabis plant has dozens of active ingredients called cannabinoids which are found in a wide range of concentrations within the flower, leaf, and stem. Researchers have identified over 70 unique cannabinoids within the Cannabis plant. Want to learn more? Click here to watch Sclabs education videos on each cannabinoid.
Most Common Cannabinoids Found in Cannabis:
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
THCA is the main constituent in raw cannabis. THCA converts to Δ9-THC when burned, vaporized, or heated for a period of time at a certain temperature. THCA, CBDA, CBGA and other acidic cannabinoids hold the most COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition for the anti-inflammatory properties that cannabis has to offer. This cannabinoid also acts as an anti-proliferative and anti-spasmodic.
The most abundant and widely known cannabinoid in marijuana, THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the main psychoactive effects patients are familiar with. This compound acts as a partial agonist at the CB1 & CB2 receptors. The compound is a mild analgesic and cellular research has shown the compound has antioxidant activity.
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
CBDA, similar to THCA, is the main constituent in cannabis that has elevated CBD levels. CBDA selectively inhibits the COX-2 enzyme contributing to the anti-inflammatory properties that cannabis has to offer.
With respect to the medical potential of the Cannabis plant, CBD holds tremendous potential to treat many types of disease and disorder, especially when the correct ratio of CBD:THC is identified for the particular condition. CBD acts as an antagonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors yet it has a low binding affinity for both. This suggests that CBD’s mechanism of action is mediated by other receptors in the brain and body.
A mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that comes about from the degradation of THC, there is usually very little to no CBN in a fresh plant. CBN acts as a weak agonist at both the CB1 & CB2 receptors having greater affinity for CB2 over CB1. The degradation of THC, into CBN, is often described as creating a “couch lock” and sedative effect and potentiates the effects of THC.
A nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, CBG has antibacterial effects and can alter the overall effects of Cannabis. CBG may kills or slow bacterial growth, reduces inflammation (particulartly in its acidic CBGA form,) inhibits cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, and promotes bone growth. CBG pharmacological activity at the CB2 receptor is currently unknown and acts as a low affinity antagonist at the CB1 receptor.
More common in tropical cannabis varieties. Effects include anti-inflamatory and analgesic. CBC is known to relieve pain (analgesic), reduce inflammation, inhibits cell growth in tumor/cancer cells (anti-proliferative), and promotes bone growth (bone stimulant). The effects of CBC appear to be mediated through non-cannabinoid receptor interactions.
THCV is a minor cannabinoid found in only some strains of cannabis. The only structural difference from THC is the presence of a propyl (3 carbon) instead of a pentyl (5 carbon) group on the molecule. Though this difference is subtle it causes THCV to produce very different effects from THC. Some of these effects include a reduction in panic attacks, suppression of appetite, and the promotion bone growth. THCV acts as an antagonist at the CB1 receptor and a partial agonist at the CB2 receptor.
Like THCV, CBDV differs from CBD only by the substitution of a pentyl (5 carbon) for a propyl (3 carbon) sidechain. Its mechanism of action has not yet been fully elucidated however recent studies have shown promise for its use in the management of epilepsy due to its action at TRPV1 receptors and modulation of gene expression.