Cannabis contains over 500 pharmacologically active compounds, which makes it ideal for medical use. Chemical structures called cannabinoids are responsible for the psychoactive and medicinal properties of weed. With 86 cannabinoids currently identified and a few other chemically synthesized, cannabis is, without doubt, the most researched plant in the world. A large number of cannabis compounds are available in other plant species, but the cannabinoids are found on the cannabis plant alone. Read on to know 4 main active ingredients of cannabis.
Cannabinoids are compounds associated with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), weed’s primary mind-altering component that gives consumers euphoric feeling. The cannabis plant has over 80 cannabinoids. Scientists and manufacturers have created many cannabinoids within the laboratory. A large number of these cannabinoids are highly powerful and can cause serious health problems when misused.
THC and CBD are the two predominant cannabinoids from the weed plant that are of medical importance. THC can improve appetite and alleviate nausea. It may also relieve pain, muscle control issues, and inflammation. Contrary to THC, CBD is a unique cannabinoid that lacks psychotropic properties. It is not popular for recreation purpose due to its anti-intoxicating nature. It may be reliable in pain alleviation, inflammation relief, treating mental illness, and regulating epileptic seizures.
Many researchers are striving to explore the potential health benefits of THC, CBD, and other common cannabinoids. For example, the latest animal studies have demonstrated that weed extracts may be instrumental in destroying cancer cell and reducing the size of others. A cell culture study conducted on rodents show that sanitized concentrates from the whole-plant weed can lower the proliferation of cancer cells in severe brain tumors. A study in mice revealed that treatment with refined extracts of THC and CBD along with radiation improves the cancer-destroying abilities of the radiation.
The same glands that synthesize cannabinoids like THC and CBD are responsible for producing terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic oils responsible for coloring different cannabis strain with unique flavors like mint, berry, pine, and citrus. Just like other strong-scented plants and flowers, the production of terpenes started for adaptive purposes – to lure pollinators and keep predators away. Factors that influence the development of terpenes in plants include weather, soil type, climate, fertilizer, age and maturation, and time of the day.
More than 100 unique terpenes have been discovered in the cannabis strain and each strain contains an exclusive terpene type and composition. The different tastes of cannabis flavors are strikingly impressive, but their capability to work closely with other compounds like cannabinoids and flavonoids is debatably one of the most interesting features of terpenes. Over the years, most strains of cannabis have been propagated to contain high amounts of THC, causing other cannabinoids to fall to just trivial amounts. Thus, many cannabis enthusiasts consider terpenes as the key compound responsible for differentiating the effects of numerous cannabis strains.
Each specific terpene has its unique effects. Some terpenes enhance relaxation and anxiety-relief while others increase focus and acuity. For instance, linalool promotes relaxation while limonene improves mood. The impact of any terpene may vary in the existence of other cannabis components in a phenomenon called the entourage effect. However, more research is required to understand the effect of each terpene when used in combination with other compounds.
Cannabis has more than 20 flavonoids, chemicals available in many other plants. However, some flavonoids called cannaflavins are unique to cannabis. Most flavonoids are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and they could help keep cancer and other serious health conditions away. Veteran marijuana consumers have reported a broad range of highs and medical properties for different strains of cannabis. Different chemical concentrations of flavonoids and other active ingredients in weed are responsible for producing these effects.
Flavonoids play a big role in how you identify cannabis via your senses, but there is more to this active compound than what meets your taste buds and nose. Flavonoids are one of the most under-researched compounds present in this unique plant. They play a critical role in offering the distinguishing attributes that people use to tell different strains apart. The synergistic interactions between flavonoids and terpenes are responsible for the odor and flavor in cannabis. Furthermore, just as they do in other flowers, flavonoids influence the pigmentation of weed plant. Those lovely, deep purple weed strains obtain their coloration from flavonoids called anthocyanins or anthoxanthins.
Other than offering pigmentation, scent, flavor, and protection, multiple studies have revealed that flavonoids are exceedingly pharmacologically active, including pilot research showing the medical properties of cannaflavins unique to cannabis. Studies show that cannaflavin A has stronger anti-inflammatory effects compared to those present in Aspirin. Researchers are also studying cannaflavin B and C for their possible medical properties. Orientin, Silymarin, Quercetin, and Kaempferol are other greatly active flavonoids available in cannabis. They all have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and antioxidant potential.
The resin glands, also called trichomes, are available on the cannabis plant’s bud, leaves, flowers, and to some smaller quantities on the stems. When observed through a microscope, the marijuana resin glands resemble small mushrooms. These glands produce cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
The weed plant’s resin glands produce three forms of trichomes: capitate-stalked, bulbous, and capitate-sessile. The capitate-stalked trichomes generate the most cannabinoids and appear on flowers and on the tiny leaves found near the flowers of female plants. Capitate-stalked trichomes are also available in male plants, but they are fewer compared to the female plants. The bulbous are the tiniest cells that form the resin gland. They appear on the head, stalk, and foot of the gland. As they grow, they form a tiny nipple-like projection that synthesizes resin. Capitate-sessile trichomes are bulbous and produce cannabinoid only as the cannabis plant matures.
It is evident that cannabis contains a large number of active ingredients that play critical pharmacological roles in our bodies. Different cannabis varieties generate a broad spectrum of chemical compounds. Some compounds may be only synthesized by particular strains or similar compounds may be available but in varying amounts. As such, the medical effects of different marijuana strains may vary greatly. More research needs to be conducted to determine the effect of the less popular compounds present in cannabis.