The Top Seven Cannabinoids and Their Health Benefits

Cannabinoids, as we’ve discussed in some of our previous blogs, are chemical compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. They are not just ordinary chemical compounds, (there are over 400 chemical compounds in the marijuana plant) but ones that interact with receptors in the body to produce specific effects in your physical, mental and emotional being. How many cannabinoids are there in marijuana? Well, the numbers vary from 80 to over a hundred, depending on which article you read and who is doing the counting.

Since legal medical and scientific research is limited because marijuana is still listed on the dangerous drug schedule of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) not all of the identified cannabinoids, whether the number is 80 or 110, have been thoroughly analyzed for the health benefits they may provide. Some cannabinoids, however, have been researched much more than others and have been found to contain very practical and remarkable healing properties. We have listed the top seven cannabinoids below, along with their medicinal characteristics in no particular order. We’ve left it for you to decide what order of importance they should be in.

THC Delta 9

 (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

This is the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana and it is the element that gets people high. Amazingly, this fundamental component of cannabis is also a real medicinal miracle worker. Some of the benefits and maladies this cannabinoid has been useful for over the last few decades are:

• Pain reliever

• Crohn’s Disease

• PTSD

• Multiple Sclerosis

• Parkinson’s Disease

• Neuropathic pain

• Cancer

• Alzheimer’s Disease

• Appetite stimulator

• Anti-nausea

CBC

(Cannabichromene) 

This cannabinoid is definitely not psychoactive and won’t get anyone high. It is a common element in cannabis and besides showing signs that it can help brain cells grow it has also been shown to be:

• Anti-depressant

• Anti-tumor

• Anti-inflammatory

• Anti-fungal

CBG

(Cannabigerol) 

Even though this non-psychoactive element in marijuana is found in small quantities it is becoming more and more popular with research scientists for its potential medicinal abilities. It has many great qualities and some of them are:

• Anti-fungal

• Anti-microbial

• Pain reliever

• Anti-tumor

• Anti-psoriasis

• Anti-depressant

• Mood stabilizer

THC Delta 8

This cannabinoid is similar to THC Delta (9) but is less psychoactive. Its healing properties include:

• Anti-anxiety

• Neuroprotective abilities

• Appetite stimulant

• Anti-nausea

CBD 

(Cannabidiol)

This cannabinoid is the one that has changed the most minds about marijuana being legalized for medical purposes. It is not psychoactive and can be isolated and refined from the marijuana or the hemp plant and its most famous use is that of stopping and/or greatly reducing epileptic seizures. This is the element in cannabis that influenced Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of CNN News to change his mind about the legalization of medical marijuana. Before he saw clear proof that CBD reduced Gran Mal seizures in a six-year old girl from 300 per week to 3 to 4 a month, Dr. Gupta was absolutely against any kind of marijuana legalization. CBD was hailed as a medical break through by many and now several companies have isolated this cannabinoid and are marketing it as an anti-seizure drug.

Other wonderful medicinal benefits from CBD are:

• Anti-emetic and anti nausea

• Anti-psychotic

• Anti-inflammatory

• Anti-oxidant

• Anti-cancer

• Anti-depressant

• Reduces the effects of the THC high

CBN

(Cannabinol) 

When the marijuana’s dried buds or flowers sit out in the air for a period of time, the THCa breaks down and becomes another cannabinoid altogether: CBN.

This newly transformed cannabinoid has the following medicinal properties:

• Antibiotic

• Appetite stimulant

• Pain reliever

• Anti-asthmatic

• Sedative

• Anti-glaucoma

THCv

(tetrahydrocannabivarin) 

This is another cannabinoid that is similar to THC Delta (9) but it is about 1/5 a psychoactive as its counterpart and namesake THC. It is one of the many cannabinoids that work best when they are paired with other cannabinoids, creating an entourage or synergistic effect. THCv also mitigates some of the more negative effects of THC, which, many times is very useful to the user. This cannabinoid has many healing properties, some of which are:

• Anti-convulsive

• Neuroprotective

• Helps with weight loss

• Promotes Bone Growth

• Reduces symptoms of PTSD

The cannabinoids are obviously very important elements in the medicinal world. More research is opening up even though cannabis is still listed a schedule one drug, and as more research is done on marijuana the more positive benefits will be discovered, which will ultimately be good for all of us.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

CBC (Cannabichromene): Emerging from the Shadows Into the Spotlight of Science

The more research that’s done on marijuana, the more interesting this wonderful plant becomes. We’ve all heard of the chemical compounds in cannabis known as cannabinoids, the therapeutic miracle workers, and we’ve also known that the two most talked about and most thoroughly studied cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Well, it appears it’s time for these two stars to move over and share the spotlight with another cannabinoid that is fast becoming the toast of the marijuana research laboratories: Cannabichromene, or CBC.

While there have been over a hundred cannabinoids isolated in the marijuana plant so far, many of their individual functions are still unknown to scientists. Cannabichromene, however, has demonstrated several distinctive traits that indicate potential medicinal properties.

One of the benefits cannabichromene has exhibited, is its ability (and perhaps its fundamental purpose) to augment and even intensify the effects of THC. Some researchers have theorized that higher levels of CBC can boost the potency of a dominant THC strain of cannabis. Since CBC isn’t psychoactive like its cousin cannabinoid THC, it acts in conjunction with the THC to enhance its overall effect. This synergistic bonding of the two cannabinoids (along with other cannabinoids and terpenes) is important medicinally because it creates an even more vigorous pain reliever than either one could produce on their own without the aid or the entourage effect of its helper.

CBC is also being looked at quite seriously in regard to cancer research. The way it interacts with anandamide, which is a naturally occurring chemical neurotransmitter or messenger in the brain, shows great promise in the battle against cancer because it increases the ability of the immune system to use its own chemical compounds (like anandamide) to fight cancer.

CBC is one of those cannabinoids that acts as a catalyst when it is combined with other cannabinoids. When it mixes with other compounds an entourage effect or synergistic effect takes place. Synergy and the entourage effect are extremely important concepts when dealing with the medicinal effects of marijuana because researchers are noticing more and more that the way to get the most out of one cannabinoid is to blend it with another, different cannabinoid. The terms synergy and entourage effect basically mean that when you combine two or more components together, the resulting effect is more than the sum of their individual effects. In general, cannabinoids need other cannabinoids to bring out their full potential and the full range of medicinal healing powers.

Besides being a helper of sorts with other cannabinoids, CBC has also been shown to be able to galvanize bone growth and decrease inflammation. However, its real value apparently lies in its potential to fight cancer. And that in itself is bringing this hitherto unknown cannabinoid out of the shadows and into the limelight of marijuana research. CBC may one day outshine both THC and CBD – if we’re lucky.

The Interesting Entourage Effects of Cannabis

Have you ever wondered why individual strains of cannabis affect you differently?

While some types of marijuana make you feeling lethargic and half asleep, others give you a burst of creative energy allowing you to be active all day or into the night. There are hundreds of other specific reactions to pot depending on which variety you consume. All of this is definitely not rocket science but it is actually very scientific.

Many of the hippies and cannabis entrepreneurs from the 1960s “turned on, tuned in and dropped out” back then and moved up to Washington, Oregon and Northern California, and other places to escape the prying eyes of law enforcement and those who have no empathy for marijuana users. They began their own cannabis plantations and many of them have been experimenting with marijuana for decades. And by experimenting we mean they have been scientifically mixing and matching marijuana plants to come up with their version of what the ideal bud breed is.

Most people, when they classify a marijuana strain simply tell you it’s either sativa, indica or a hybrid of the two. One strain may be sativa-dominant , which means that the effects will be uplifting and move you to be creative, or it will be indica-dominant, which is just the opposite, that is, relaxing and sedating – you may doze off a bit. However, just because the strain is heavy on one versus the other, doesn’t tell us what’s really going on inside that bud you’re about to grind down to pop in your bowl. There’s a lot more to it than indica and sativa.

We’ve talked about cannabinoids and terpenes previously in this blog. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in marijuana that interact with the endocannabinoid system in our brains and bodies and can produce feelings of euphoria along with providing healing properties such as stopping pain and reducing epileptic seizures. Laboratory research scientists have uncovered over 80 cannabinoids in marijuana so far and currently, the most famous cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

Terpenes, the cannabinoid-like aromatic hydrocarbon compounds in marijuana, produce the unique fragrance of each marijuana plant. They also aid in the production of the plant’s resins, hormones, and pigments among other things. When certain terpenes are combined with specific cannabinoids, their focus and strength is much stronger than if they were operating alone.

The most famous terpene in marijuana is myrcene. It is found in a number of other plants such as mangos, lemon grass and hops. This terpene is a true medicinal element in cannabis because it’s not only an antiseptic and antimicrobial, but it is an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen also. Myrcene, by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, much like cannabinoids do, can regulate the permeable membranes of the cells, thus controlling the amount of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids that get into the cells. This terpene “helper” allows the effectiveness of the medicinal cannabinoid, whether it is the pain reliever THC or the epileptic seizure stopper CBD to do its job more powerfully than if the cannabinoid had to travel alone to the body’s receptors. This synergistic effectiveness between Cannabinoids and terpenes has been documented in several studies: GW Pharmaceuticals in 2008, The University of Jordan in 2007, and a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects.” The study concluded by saying, terpenes have been found to have medical efficacy typically considered to be delivered only by cannabinoids.

So, in the future, you may see cannabis strains labeled very specifically with all the things you could ever want for your medicinal and recreational needs. The pot strain may be sativa-dominant with a small amount of THC and a large helping of CBD, along with a high percentage of myrcene for added synergistic effect. That day may not be too far away because the government is getting close to decriminalizing cannabis, which means that there will be more research being done on developing the perfect bud just for you.

Anandamide: The Brain’s THC

Anandamide is an endogenous neurotransmitter, which simply means that it is a naturally occurring chemical messenger in the brain. This recently recognized neurotransmitter was named after the ancient Sanskrit word ananda, which means “bliss.”

Neurotransmitters are called messengers because they travel from neurons to the receptors of other neurons (nerve cells) with chemical “messages” that tell the neurons which body and brain tasks to regulate. The receptors have to be a perfect fit for the neurotransmitters to bind to or the message won’t be received; absolutely nothing will happen.

On the other hand, when there is a perfect fit between neurotransmitter and the receptor on the neuron, they will bind together and the message will be received and the instructed task will be achieved. It’s very similar to handheld radios. Both people holding the radios must be on the same wavelength, that is, their radio dials have to be set to the exact same number in order for one person to send a message and for the other one to receive it. If they are not on the same channel then there is no communication at all because there is not a perfect fit.

Naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain have specific jobs or tasks and each neurotransmitter regulates different functions in the body and the brain. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that help the body manage stress. Dopamine plays the role of reward-giver to nerve cells and thus, to the body and the brain. Serotonin regulates learning, sleep, and mood. All of these neurotransmitters fit snuggly into their targeted receptors so they are successful in accomplishing their intended functions.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is important in memory, appetite, pain and depression, along with fertility. This neurotransmitter is now understood to trigger the receptors that allow the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana to bind with its receptors in the brain. Anandamide, by way of its streamlined structure, is also capable of passing through the blood/brain barrier on its own. Even though it is named after the word for “bliss” it doesn’t produce a very long or sustained euphoric mood or high because it is short-lived and quite delicate in its makeup.

Recent studies on animals and anandamide point to this neurotransmitter producing forgetfulness. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, because it has pushed researchers forward into testing substances that might keep anandamide from targeting and binding to its receptors. That, of course, would be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of expanding human memory capability and treating the loss of memory.

Anandamide has also been discovered in dark chocolate! Yes, that is exciting and it explains a great deal. Our feelings of well-being and even elation when we eat dark chocolate are brought on by the release of the naturally occurring anandamide in the chocolate itself. Once the anandamide binds with its perfectly fitted receptor in the brain then we get a taste (no pun intended) of a THC high. We also get a rush from a dopamine release, which makes us a bit euphoric.

Based on this news you shouldn’t run out and buy a pound of dark chocolate to get high on. First of all, it won’t be good for your digestion and secondly, you would need over twenty pounds of that exotic treat to duplicate a real and sustained THC high. However, by the time you ate a pound of dark chocolate, which would be tasty for the first few bites, you would probably already be in the emergency room wishing you were somewhere else. So, listen to your neurotransmitters closely, and remember to always be moderate when searching for your bliss.

THC and CBD Are Synergistic Pain Relievers

Chronic pain can be quite debilitating and slow your life down to a crawl. As the opioid addiction problem in this country soars to epidemic proportions, doctors are prescribing less of the dangerously habit-forming painkillers and are seeking other avenues of pain relief for their patients. Since more data on the positive pain relieving effects of marijuana are becoming available more and more people who live with chronic pain are moving toward marijuana to mitigate their physical distress.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that continues to confirm the efficacy of marijuana as a potent pain reliever. People who have back pain and other types of protracted discomfort have had great success in reducing and even alleviating the misery that the recurrent pain has brought to their lives. Cannabis is highly effective for hundreds of thousands of people and now that marijuana is legal in many states, more and more scientific studies are telling us why it works.

As we know from past blogs, the cannabinoids are the important elements in cannabis that affect the body. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are currently the two main cannabinoids and the ones that are the most focused on in clinical research studies.  THC has been the cannabinoid that has been researched the longest, since 1964, and it is the psychoactive compound in the herb. THC also has other medicinal qualities such as – pain relief, treatment of nausea and vomiting, the stimulation of appetite, improves breathing in asthmatics, relieves eye pressure in glaucoma patients and it induces sleep.

CBD is not psychoactive (you don’t get high when ingesting it), and it is an anti-inflammatory, stress reducer, anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, anti-biotic, and is also used for treating pain, although it is not quite as effective as its cousin THC in fighting pain. Both THC and CBD are true marvels of natural medicine. They both have their purpose and each one works on different ailments in the body.

When used together, however, THC and CBD have a synergistic effect. The CBD actually cuts down on or subdues the potential high and psychoactive reaction one might get from a THC heavy tincture or bud. The combination of the two cannabinoids also produce a real calming effect, which may appeal to medical patients or older users who are averse to the side-effects or the paranoiac feelings that can come with too much THC. To put it simply, CBD helps balance out the stronger psychoactive attributes of THC, while providing pain relief and other very positive health benefits.

CBD and THC can now be isolated from other cannabinoids in the marijuana plant and are available in blends or can be purchased separately in oil or tincture form. There are also many strains of marijuana that are available that either have more THC or more CBD in them, whichever the user is more comfortable with. THC is the main pain reliever in marijuana but CBD is a wonderful compliment to it. So, if you are trying to reduce your pain, you may want to buy a strain or tincture or oil that is a 50/50 mixture of both cannabinoids or one that has slightly more THC in it. If, however, you don’t want to get high every time you medicate yourself with cannabis, start with a strain that has a higher percentage of CBD in it with just a small amount of THC. That will keep you in a euphoric mood as it cuts down on inflammation and pain. Whatever you do, don’t worry, because there is an ideal strain out there just for you and your pain.