The cannabis plant contains specific naturally occurring chemical compounds called cannabinoids. These are more than a hundred active substances that can be absorbed by the human brain and influence various physical functions (usually following chemical decomposition upon exposure to heat – decarboxylation). This property enables us to benefit from the many medicinal properties associated with cannabis. Even though each cannabis strain has its own unique cannabinoid profile, this brief introduction to the five major cannabinoids will help you to make the right choice when selecting a cannabis product.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive substance within the cannabis plant. It is known for its ability to relieve mild to moderate pain, stimulate the appetite, encourage relaxation, and induce sleep, and is also recommended for treating nausea. THC evaporates at 157°C, permitting relatively clean consumption of this cannabinoid via vaporizers. However, other components like CBG and basic acids also evaporate: THCA, leading to THC.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid with a very broad range of medical applications. As an antipsychotic, it is commonly used to treat schizophrenia, and studies have shown that it can also alleviate depression. In addition, CBD suppresses social anxiety and can be used to treat sleep disorders. CBD is also anti-inflammatory, strengthens the immune system, and inhibits bacterial growth. It evaporates at 180°C, a fairly high temperature that extracts a lot of flavor from the flower.
CBG (cannabigerol) is a cannabinoid that is distinct from THC and CBD in that its highest concentrations can be found during the early growth stages of the cannabis plant. During flowering, the plant converts the CBG into other cannabinoids. However, developments in cannabis research have enabled CBG to be combined with other cannabinoids in various strains. As a result, CBG is making a big name for itself in the cannabis market. This cannabinoid is effective at slowing bacterial and fungal infections and can also slow the development of cancer cells. Another distinctive feature of CBG is its evaporation point – just 52°C. This especially low temperature makes it the only cannabinoid that can be consumed free from any other known active ingredient.
CBN (cannabinol) is another important cannabinoid and the only one not formed from the breakdown of CBG. Just like THC and CBD, its concentration is clearly marked on medical cannabis products in Israel, to ensure proper quality control regarding product age. CBN is a byproduct of the natural breakdown of THC in cannabis products when stored under the right conditions. It is used as an anesthetic, sedative, and sleep aid, and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it can help to stimulate the appetite and even contribute to healing bone fissures. It evaporates at 185°C, slightly higher than CBD.
Our final cannabinoid is THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin). THCV is very similar to THC from a chemical perspective but has a more stimulating, euphoric effect, meaning that high concentrations are more suitable for consumption during the day. This cannabinoid is known for helping with diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing obesity, and is also effective at treating PTSD, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s. THCV evaporates at 220°C, the highest temperature of the cannabinoids on this list.
So, these are the five most important cannabinoids to know. Cannabis contains another group of substances called “terpenes.” Terpenes are not unique to cannabis – they can also be found in other plants and are responsible for plant aromas and flavors. Studies have shown that combining certain terpenes with certain cannabinoids can create specific, repeatable medical effects, while other combinations have their own effects. This connection between cannabinoids and terpenes is called the “entourage effect.” But, despite the importance of this entourage effect, cannabinoids are still key criteria when determining the nature of a cannabis product.
Cannabinoids are the most unique group of substances within the cannabis plant, and probably one of the main reasons for the plant’s popularity among humans. Professional cannabis growth is crucial for maintaining the cannabinoid profile. Providing accurate information and proper research regarding the effect of each cannabinoid helps patients everywhere to choose their cannabis products with maximum efficiency and confidence on a daily basis.