An introduction to cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are compounds predominantly found in the cannabis plant. They interact with our endocannabinoid system to maintain homeostasis in the body. While the most prevalent cannabinoids are Delta 9 THC and CBD, there are a variety of other cannabinoids that are increasingly capturing the interest of researchers and consumers.
What are trichomes?
Trichomes are tiny, resinous glands found on the surface of cannabis plants and they play a crucial role in the plant’s defense mechanism – deterring herbivores while attracting beneficial pollinators with their aromatic terpenes. More importantly for consumers, trichomes are the primary source of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and other active compounds.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The human body contains an intricate endocannabinoid system tasked with helping to regulate various physiological and cognitive processes. Endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids are produced naturally. When it comes to how they work, essentially, they bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors which are part of this complex system that works to maintain balance within the body.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is undoubtedly the most common and widely researched cannabinoid. Known for its therapeutic effects and is the major cannabinoid found in hemp. CBD has been linked to a plethora of health benefits ranging from reducing anxiety to managing chronic pain. This cannabinoid doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects, which makes it the perfect choice when you’re seeking natural remedies.
CBN, or cannabinol is a minor cannabinoid that is gradually gaining recognition in the medical and scientific communities for its potential health benefits. Originating as a degradation product of THC, CBN is present in most cannabis strains in small quantities. Research indicates that this cannabinoid has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.
Cannabigerol, shortened to CBG, is often referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids” because most of the other cannabinoids are derived from its acidic form (cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA). CBG is reported to be effective in reducing intraocular pressure, which makes it of interest to those living with conditions such as glaucoma. In addition, it’s been the hot topic of research into its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities.
CBC, or cannabichromene is a minor cannabinoid that’s gaining attention. Although it’s found in lesser quantities when compared to CBD and Delta 9 THC, it’s been in the spotlight for its potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike many cannabinoids that interact with well-known receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CBD has a habit of binding with different receptors which could be responsible for its distinct effects.
Cannabicyclol, or CBL, is certainly one of the lesser-known cannabinoids found in small amounts within the hemp plant. It is formed through the degradation of CBC. Due to the limited research available on this cannabinoid, it’s difficult to articulate the potential health benefits. Having said that, its unique formation and structure have intrigued scientists and the ongoing studies aim to explore the potential therapeutic properties. It seems there is much to be discovered about CBL.
Delta 9 THC
Delta 9 THC has to be the most abundant and well-known cannabinoid, renowned for its psychoactive effects. However, its applications aren’t solely for recreational value. Extensive research has been conducted on its potential therapeutic benefits including pain relief and appetite stimulation. Ongoing research aims to understand its full range of medicinal properties while considering any risks or adverse effects associated with its use.
Delta 8 THC
A less potent relative of Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC has psychoactive properties but is gaining attention for its milder, softer effects compared to its stronger counterpart. Often used for appetite stimulation, Delta 8 THC is being studied for its potential nausea relief. It should be noted that the legality of this cannabinoid will vary by jurisdiction.
While it’s not as famous as some of the big names, CBDV is making a name for itself. This non-psychoactive compound shares a similar molecular structure with CBD and is currently being researched for its potential in treating inflammation as well as neurological conditions like epilepsy.
CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)
CBDA is the raw, acidic precursor that turns into CBD when heated. It has shown promise as an anti-inflammatory agent and may even have more potent effects than CBD in certain aspects. It has also been studied for its anti-nausea properties, making it potentially beneficial for those undergoing chemotherapy or struggling with motion sickness.
Complementary compounds and components
In addition to the major cannabinoids, the cannabis plant is a treasure trove of other phytochemicals that complement them, including terpenes, flavonoids, and lipids. These compounds often work synergistically which enhances the effects and benefits of cannabinoids. Let’s take a closer look at some of them:
If you’ve ever noticed the aromatic scent of the cannabis plant, what you’ve experienced is the terpenes doing their job. These are the aromatic compounds found in many plants, not just cannabis. In the hemp plant, however, the terpenes contribute to the overall effects of cannabinoids by what’s known as the entourage effect.
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds present in various plants, including cannabis. These compounds have an impact on the plant’s color, scent, and flavor. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting properties.
Lipids are fatty acids, and these molecules have an important role in the extraction process of cannabinoids. Lipids are often used to create extracts like full spectrum CBD oil or broad spectrum CBD oil. They often assist in the formulation of CBD softgels and other products that aim for more efficient absorption. These compounds are understood to support cell structure and lower inflammation.
It’s no secret that the major cannabinoids like CBD and Delta 9 THC get most of the attention, but it’s important to recognize the full spectrum of cannabis compounds that contribute to its medicinal and therapeutic properties. When combined, these compounds create an almighty entourage effect that enhances the benefits of the plant as a whole.
Types of extracts
Considering the variety of compounds, it’s no surprise that there are different types of extracts available. Each type of extract interacts uniquely with the body’s endocannabinoid system, thereby affecting its mechanism of action and potential health benefits.
Full spectrum CBD oil
Full spectrum CBD oil is the ultimate go-to for holistic wellness. This golden elixir delivers the full orchestra of hemp’s therapeutic compounds, from cannabinoids to terpenes and beyond. It’s not just CBD you’re getting; it’s a harmonious blend that taps into the plant’s full potential. Experience what nature truly intended with the added benefits of the entourage effect.
Broad spectrum CBD oil
With broad spectrum CBD oil, you can have it all – minus the THC (with less than 0.03% present). This is perfect for people seeking the full range of benefits, who have reservations about the trace amounts of THC. Unwind, relax, and let all of the other elements work their magic.
For those who prioritize purity and simplicity, CBD isolate may be the one for you. This is CBD in its most unadulterated form, stripped of any other hemp compounds. If you want to pinpoint your treatment without the symphony of the entourage effect, this is the right choice. Crystal clear and impressively potent, isolate is a perfect way to experience CBD in its elemental form.
Distillate primarily contains CBD but may also feature other cannabinoids and terpenes. Usually more refined than full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts, it’s less refined than CBD isolate. Distillate typically contains a higher concentration of CBD compared to the full-spectrum products on the market but still retains lesser quantities of the other beneficial compounds.
Final thoughts on cannabinoids
There has been a rise in synthetic cannabinoids manufactured in labs to mimic the effects and benefits of naturally occurring cannabinoids. However, they can bind more strongly to cannabinoid receptors, potentially leading to more intense and unpredictable effects. All in all, there’s nothing like the real thing.
Ongoing research into the list of cannabinoids and their potential effects continues to unveil new aspects of these intriguing compounds as time goes on. With a wealth of benefits and uses, these plant-derived compounds are the subject of rigorous studies, and understanding the world of cannabinoids is no small feat. Any way you look at it, cannabinoids offer a promising avenue for more exciting health and wellness applications.