Marijuana produces over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, which can be defined as any chemical that interacts with the endocannabinoid system regardless of structure or origin. Despite there being so many cannabinoids, there are just a handful of major cannabinoids from cannabis that scientists have discovered anything about. Cannabis products contain a label on the packaging which shows the amount of these compounds in percentages, and knowing what the different cannabinoids do helps identify products that better suit the needs of a specific person. Cannabinoids from cannabis are closely related and it’s possible to follow the lifecycle of these compounds from their origins in a young marijuana plant to their interactions with cannabis receptors. The naturally occurring acidic forms of these cannabinoids change through a process called decarboxylation and become the compounds that interact with endocannabinoid receptors. The feeling produced from all of the cannabinoids and terpenes interacting with receptors at once is known as the entourage effect. Below are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis products today:
CBG(A) – All cannabinoids start as CBGA, cannabigerolic acid, and change as the plant matures for more specific tasks throughout the life of the marijuana. Once consumed, CBG interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBG has been used to fight pain without a psychotropic feeling and shows promise for offering benefits to those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, Huntington’s disease, and inflammatory bowel problems.
THC(A) – Tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive properties, is typically what consumers of cannabis look for when purchasing a product. THC creates a euphoric feeling by causing brain cells to release dopamine.
CBD(A) – Cannabidiol can have benefits including pain relief, fighting sleep, anxiety, and could even lessen addiction-related cravings. CBD is non-psychoactive and can be purchased in many products that do not contain THC.
CBC(A) – Cannabichromene has no psychoactive effects itself but binds with other receptors when paired with CBD and THC, adding to the entourage effect. It has been shown to reduce inflammation, fight cancer, reduce pain, and even fight acne.
CBN(A) – Cannabinol is what happens when THC breaks down due to age. It is still psychoactive, but only up to 25% as potent as its THC counterpart and will only produce a mild effect. CBN has shown benefits relating to sleep and pain management, but more research is needed.