How Many Cannabinoids Are There?
In 1996, California became the first state to officially legalize marijuana for medical use. Since this time, over 30 states have legalized cannabis either for recreational or medical use.
With this newfound legalization has come numerous studies on the cannabis plant. What was once viewed as a taboo and dangerous drug has, in many cases, now been realized as a plant that possesses a wide variety of compounds, all of which may very well provide benefits for those suffering from a plethora of ailments and illnesses. At the time of this writing, about 18% of Americans have stated that they use cannabis, with many stating multiple reasons for doing so.
But how can one plant potentially assist individuals with so many different illnesses, disorders, and ailments? How is it possible that cannabis could be used to assist with everything from insomnia to ulcerative colitis?
The answer to this question lies within the various compounds found within cannabis, most commonly referred to as cannabinoids.
What Are Cannabinoids?
The term cannabinoids simply refers to the compounds that are found within the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemical substances that adhere to the cannabinoid receptors in our brain. This does not necessarily indicate that every cannabinoid is psychoactive, as many of the cannabinoids that we will go over are not and will not produce the high that is commonly associated with cannabis. This does not however mean that they do not have other beneficial properties associated with them!
The most commonly known and discussed cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, as well as cannabidiol, often referred to as CBD. While these two cannabinoids may be the most discussed cannabinoids, it is currently believed that there are as many as 113 different cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. In this article, we will briefly go over several cannabinoids that you may or may not have heard of, as well as the potential benefits that these cannabinoids may possess! While we won’t have time within this article to go over the entire list of cannabinoids, you can find a complete list of cannabinoids here. Instead, we will focus on a handful of lesser known cannabinoids that may very well possess certain properties that can prove to be quite beneficial to a select group of individuals suffering from various ailments, disorders, and illnesses.
Now that we have discussed what a cannabinoid really is, let’s go over a brief list of cannabinoids below, as well as the potential benefit that these cannabinoids may possess.
A Brief List of Cannabinoids
The first and perhaps most important of this list of cannabinoids would have to be cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA. Cannabigerolic acid is the cannabinoid responsible for all other cannabinoids in existence. Yes, without CBGA we would not have THC or CBD! To briefly summarize the process in which this occurs, CBGA is converted into two other enzymes, CBDA synthase and THCA synthase. These enzymes are converted into several other cannabinoids, including CBCA, CBDA, and THCA. Then, after these processes have run their course, THOSE cannabinoids form the basis for various cannabinoids such as THC and CBD through processes of drying and heating. All of this, and we have CBGA to thank! Without cannabigerolic acid, the cannabis plant would simply not be able to create any of the cannabinoids, and millions of medical patients would have to look elsewhere for assistance with their various aches and pains.
Another cannabinoid that may prove to be highly beneficial for select individuals would be cannabigerol, or CBG. CBG has grown in popularity within the last few years thanks in part to the Farm Bill of 2018. Like CBD, CBG is non-psychoactive and will not produce any of the mind-altering effects or distortions in perception that cannabinoids like delta-9-THC can produce. CBG has been shown in studies to potentially help manage a wide variety of illnesses and disorders. Bladder dysfunction, glaucoma symptoms, and the symptoms associated with irritable bowel disease (IBD) may be dulled slightly from the use of CBG. There has even been a study on the effectiveness of using CBG as a means to prevent colon cancer! While further study must be done before this claim can be substantiated, it is quite a far cry from the previous reputation that cannabis once held!
Yet another cannabinoid that has been steadily increasing in popularity would be cannabinol, or CBN. CBN is a cannabinoid that occurs during the process of the degradation of THC. As the THC degrades, CBN forms. CBN is commonly paired with CBD as it is believed to assist with many of the same issues that cannabidiol users deal with. Insomnia, inflammation, and chronic pain are ailments that many say CBN can assist individuals with! Today, you can commonly find CBN and CBD sold together, as the two cannabinoids may benefit from one another in providing fast acting relief to users. While CBN is non-psychoactive, there are other cannabinoids that have psychoactive properties similar to the commonly known and discussed delta 9 THC. Perhaps the second most commonly talked about psychoactive cannabinoid would be delta 8 THC.
Delta 8 THC
Delta 8 THC has quickly become one of the most talked about cannabinoids within the last two years. It is a psychoactive cannabinoid with a very similar chemical makeup to delta 9 THC. One of the major differences, however, is that delta 8 is legal to purchase and use! Although there are some states that do have restrictions on Delta-8 THC, most states do not! Delta 8 THC has been heralded by many for its ability to assist with such ailments as anxiety, insomnia, and nausea. In addition to this, delta 8 THC has been claimed by many users to provide a much more mild and soothing experience than that of delta 9 THC. Many view delta 8 THC as a more relaxed and legal alternative to traditional delta 9 THC. It is because of this reputation that delta 8 THC has become so popular in such a relatively small length of time.
Yet another lesser known cannabinoid would be THC-V, or tetrahydrocannabivarin. Unlike both delta 8 and delta 9 THC, THC-V is said by many to act as an appetite suppressant. This may one day prove to be beneficial as a sort of all natural weight loss supplement. In addition to the appetite suppressant properties, THC-V may also possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Like nearly all of the cannabinoids listed (and known, for that matter) THC-V will require further studies and examination before we can know for certain just how this lesser known cannabinoid truly affects the human body, as well as the potential medical benefits that it may provide to select users. The future, however, looks promising.
What to Conclude From This List of Cannabinoids
Cannabis is still in a sort of odd, grey limbo in terms of legality within the United States. As the cannabis argument rages on throughout both politics and consumer perception, there is one thing that we know for certain: more study needs to be done. Researchers and consumers alike have been studying and asking questions about both delta 9 THC and CBD for years now, but keep in mind that these are just two cannabinoids in existence. When factoring in the reality that there are over 100 known cannabinoids, you can see that we have our work cut out for us. The truth is that no one can say with certainty which cannabinoid can or can’t benefit individuals suffering from various issues.
That isn’t to say, however, that there isn’t a place for some of these compounds.
It was only until very recently that we were able to truly delve deeply into studies on both THC and CBD. It was only a couple of years ago that delta 8 THC was legalized and only now that it is really being studied for medical purposes. Who's to say that we might not one day be discussing CBN, CBG, THC-V, and other lesser known cannabinoids just as we discuss CBD? The wait may be long, but this isn’t a stretch to think that this may be the reality we live in fairly soon. As more information is brought to light on the cannabis plant and the help that it may provide those who use it, questions will arise on these other cannabinoids. What are they? What do they do? What could they do, if used correctly?
This article is not meant to deify or demonize any of these compounds, but instead to intrigue others just enough to read into these cannabinoids. To provide some light on compounds that were once too taboo to even research and discuss. To allow consumers to question whether or not we have even begun to crack the surface of what this plant can do for those suffering from hundreds of different ailments.
It is believed that there are 113 known cannabinoids. So far, the vast majority of the public seems to have a basic knowledge on two of them.
Two down, 111 to go.