What are cannabinoids?
Last month we talked about terpenes, the endocannabinoid system, and the entourage effect. It’s time to get deeper on a molecular level and talk about cannabinoids. If you’re wondering what cannabinoids are, they are the engine in your car, the ice cream in your milkshake, the steak in your steak dinner, the…well you get the point. Although smell, taste, strain type, and other factors all play a part in the cannabis experience, it is the cannabinoids themselves that provide the effects on a molecular level.
More than 100 individual cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis, and a different effect on the body. Remember that still-to-be-proven theory we talked about, the entourage effect? This is where all the cannabinoids work within the body’s endocannabinoid system, giving the user their custom cannabis experience.
Let’s talk about some of those cannabinoids:
THC: Probably one of the most well-known cannabinoids is THC (second only to CBD). THC is the chemical that provides the intoxicating effects (aka being stoned) and is commonly associated with feelings of heightened anxiety and paranoia.
CBD: CBD, aka Cannabidiol, is growing increasingly popular as consumers explore non-intoxicating products. Unlike its THC counterpart, CBD will not cause a high that THC does. While generally considered non-intoxicating, CBD can have psychoactive effects so always start low and go slow.
CBN – Cannabinol (CBN) is another non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis. There are usually higher amounts found in older cannabis because CBN is actually THC that has degraded due to age. While that may not sound appealing to some, other users seek out older cannabis just for this compound. Some claim that it is a good neuroprotectant and as an appetite stimulator.
THCP – In 2019, Italian researchers at the Unihemp Research Project discovered a whole new cannabinoid called Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THCP). This compound is reportedly 33-times more active than THC. More studies are being done to determine how this cannabinoid can be used in both medical and recreational cannabis.
CBG – A lesser-known but still important compound is Cannabigerol (CBG). CBG is not abundant in most cannabis strains, in fact, it’s usually present in less than 1% of all cannabinoids in any given strain. CBG seems to act as a booster to THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. It’s acidic form, (CBGA) transforms into both THC and CBD when heat or ultraviolet light are applied to it.