What About All the Other Compounds in Cannabis?
There are around 113 different cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant. These compounds can interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human body and create various effects that involve pain, inflammation, appetite, emotion, and cognition.
But not all cannabinoids are the same, even if they happen to be in the same category and the same plant. In fact, endocannabinoids can be found naturally occurring in the human body, thanks to the endocannabinoid system. Meanwhile, among all of the 500+ natural components in cannabis, 113 of them are known as phytocannabinoids.
We know of cannabidiol (CBD), delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and delta-8 THC. Let’s take a look at a few others that have not become prominent as of yet, but may have the potential to become the next big thing.
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
CBD is known for many health benefits, which is now being studied and has had tons of anecdotal evidence to back up its claims. Its precursor is cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, which is also a non-psychoactive compound.
It’s like a parent of CBD since CBD on its own is not found in the plant from the start. It’s formed when CBDA in the plant gets heated through decarboxylation, which turns non-psychoactive compounds in the plant into psychoactive ones.
The acid part of CBDA is the chain of hydrogen and carbon atoms in the chemical structure that inhibit absorption through oral consumption. When CBDA becomes CBD through decarboxylation, that’s when it becomes something that the human body can use.
CBN is one of the most common cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, right after THC. CBN is a product of the degradation of THC. While the plant itself doesn’t have much of it, more CBN gets produced over time as THC is exposed to air, varying temperatures, and sunlight.
CBN has been found in cannabis that are either old or poorly stored, so it does tend to show up in archaeological discoveries. For example, there was CBN present in perfectly-preserved cannabis found in a Chinese shamanic tomb dating from way back 2,700 years ago.
CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has been found to have the potential to help treat multiple medical conditions. Formed from the decarboxylation of cannabigerolic acid, CBG usually gets converted into other cannabinoids, mostly THC or CBD, which then leaves around 1% cannabigerol in the plant.
Studies so far have shown that CBG has CB1 and CB2 binding affinity, so it can definitely interact with the endocannabinoid system. It has also been evaluated in laboratory models of colitis, making it a potential treatment for gastrointestinal disorders.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A)
There has been a lot of discussion and study about the properties of CBD as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotectant, but there are a good number of caveats about it. That’s why alternatives to CBD are necessary to broaden the options available, just in case there are people who may have problems with CBD.
THC-A is one of those potential cannabinoids that can be just as good, if not better than CBD in some applications. It’s a potent antioxidant that gives it significant neuroprotectant properties, making it a potential treatment for conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and so on. While it hasn’t been tested in humans yet, there’s a reasonable amount of reasons to be optimistic about THC-A.
THCV is a cannabinoid that’s purported to have various medicinal properties that are slowly being revealed with more studies. Its initials may make it seem very similar to THC, and even their complete names are similar right until the last syllable, but they’re very different chemicals.
While THCV and THC have very similar chemical structure, it’s their slight chemical differences that set them apart. Unlike plain old THC, THCV has undergone a process that turns it into cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA), which then breaks down to form tetrahydrocannabivarin carboxylic acid (THCVA). That then undergoes decarboxylation with either heat or UV light to create THCV.
THCV is prevalent in certain strains of cannabis from Central Asia and Southern Africa. It’s being studied for its potential applications in appetite control and reduction of blood sugar, making it a likely treatment for obesity-associated glucose intolerance.
CBC is another phytocannabinoid that experts are looking into for possible pharmacological applications. It has a structure that’s similar with many of its siblings and cousins like THC, THCV, CBD, and CBN. CBC is more common in tropical varieties of cannabis.
What makes CBC interesting is that it’s one of the most abundant non-psychotropic cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, even more than CBD. While a specific application is yet to be found, it has been observed that it prevents endocannabinoid inactivation and activates transient receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
Think of CBC as more of a key that opens the door for the rest of the cannabinoids to do their thing.
As more research and experiments are done with cannabinoids, we’ll get to know more about the wonderful properties of cannabis and its numerous cannabinoids. Decades ago, this amount of scientific research was unthinkable due to the taboo placed unfairly on the plant. But now, the scientific evidence has made cannabis too big to relegate in the penalty box.
From what you’ve just read here, you can see how there’s still so much about the plant that’s still unknown and waiting to be discovered. We can encourage that scientific effort by making your demand for cannabis as both medicine and health supplement be known to policymakers, who can then make a difference by lifting restrictions and opening the floodgates.