These are just some of the compounds found in cannabis. There are over 60 known compounds in cannabis plants.
The cannabis plant has been shown to alleviate a number of medical symptoms including headaches, nausea and pain. Cannabinoids are a group of various chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant which act on the receptors located on cells which repress the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Different strains of the plant offer varying levels of cannabinoid and
affect dosing when used for medicinal purposes.
When found in nature, cannabinoids are present in the form of sticky resinous structures known as glandular trichomes. A single trichome gland will contain a variety of cannabinoids, and recent research has shown that these cannabinoids work together to produce their medical benefits. This phenomenon has been called the “entourage effect” because it shows that a diverse variety of cannabinoids, in precise ratios, has a more significant medical benefit than an isolated single cannabinoid synthesized in a lab.
THC – Δ-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol
What it does: THC is the best known cannabinoid. It occurs naturally in the plant primarily as THCA, however some THC is present. As the primary psychoactive compound, it is responsible for the effect most patients are familiar with. Research shows that THC interacts with the brain similar to anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter. THC has also been found to be a neuroprotective compound with analgesic (pain relieving) effects. Typically, a sample of flower will contain 8% – 20% THCA depending on the strain and cultivation method. Edibles commonly have a much lower concentration of THC, but cannabis concentrates (hash oils, waxes, etc.) can easily exceed 80% THC content. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system and the immune system, resulting in relaxation, reduced pain, and increased appetite.
What it treats: THC is helpful for treating many, many ailments. Studies have shown that it has medicinal benefits for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s, anxiety, arthritis, chemotherapy side effects, Crohn’s Disease, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, HIV-related peripheral neuropathy, Huntington’s Disease, incontinence, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, pruritus, sleep apnea, and Tourette Syndrome, among others. THC has even been shown to kill cancerous tumors!
THCA –Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid
What it does: THC-A is the most prominent compound in raw cannabis. When cannabis is burned, vaporized or heated for a short time, the naturally non-psychoactive THC-A will convert into the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. THC-A naturally occurs in fresh, undried cannabis. When it comes to the anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects of cannabis, THC-A is believed to
play a significant role. THC-A is also believed to be one of the contributing compounds to the anti-proliferative effects of cannabis. The research that is ongoing into the medicinal applications of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like THCA has great promise.
What it treats: THCA appears to help with chronic immune-system disorders. Dr. Courtney’s wife, Kristen Peskuski, found juicing cannabis to be the only effective treatment for her chronic Lupus. She had been on over forty medications and suffered terrible side effects before she discovered THCA.
What it does: CBD is the second most prominent compound found in the cannabis plant. Many of the medical benefits of cannabis are attributed to the CBD content of the medicine. It has been found to have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsive properties. CBD is not a psychoactive cannabinoid like THC, and recent research shows that CBD may even inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. Thanks to its medicinal promise, countless clinical tests are being conducted using CBD as medicine. Historically, a sample of normal flower would contain less than 1% CBD, and ‘enriched’ strains may have contained up to 4%. More recently, caregivers have been breeding strains specifically for CBD content with great success. At CannLabs.com they have tested samples with CBD content up to 20% in flowers and up to 85% in cannabis concentrates.
What it treats: CBD is used to help with acne, ADD, anxiety, arthritis, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, Dravet syndrome, epilepsy, glaucoma, Huntington’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia, just to name a few. CBD has also been shown to kill cancer cells.
CBN – Cannabinol
What it does: CBN is one of the cannabinoids not directly synthesized by the cannabis plant, but one that occurs as a byproduct of the degradation of THC over time. This cannabinoid is also non-psychoactive, but cannabis samples with higher CBN content are generally attributed with a sedative effect. Since CBN occurs during the degradation of THC over time, the typical amount of CBN found in most samples of cannabis is less than 1%. Samples that are older, such as flowers that have been subjected to a curing process, will generally have higher CBN content than newer samples.
What it treats: It may make users dizzy or groggy, and is not usually sought-after for medicinal purposes. If you don’t want an intense body high, keep your cannabis in an airtight container and put it in a dark spot.
THCV – Tetrahydrocannabivarin
What it does: THCV is another cannabinoid that is most commonly found in cannabis sativa. Recent research shows that THCV may be helpful in treating metabolic disorders including diabetes. THCV is a homologue of THC that contains a propyl (3-carbon) side chain. It is one of the compounds found naturally in cannabis.
CBG – Cannabigerol
What it does: CBG is another of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids; it is not responsible for the effects of the cannabis plant that most are familiar with. Usually found in high concentrations among hemp, it is attributed with relief of intraocular pressure, one of the main symptoms of glaucoma. This cannabinoid is also associated with the antibacterial properties of some cannabis medicine, offering potential for treatment of bacterial infections like MRSA. It can also alter the overall effects of cannabis on patients.
CBC – Cannabichromene
What it does: CBC is another cannabinoid that is non-psychoactive, and it does not impact the psychoactive effects of THC. Some research shows that it may play a role in the anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis, and could also improve the overall analgesic properties as well. Current research is investigating the possible anti-proliferative (cancer fighting) effects of CBC, but the extent of those effects are not fully understood.
We look forward to reporting on new research about other chemicals that have medicinal properties as they are discovered. As always, we want to reiterate that these chemicals are most effective when combined. Whole-plant treatment gives patients benefits that have yet to be identified and isolated, and by separating chemicals, you could be losing important medical benefits. By all
means, try strains with varying levels of these compounds to see how they affect your particular ailments, but make sure you’re using the whole plant.