EXOGENOUS CANNABINOIDS

The cannabis plant has hundreds of compounds, with more than eighty classified as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are known as phytocannabinoids. Each phytocannabinoid produces different effects.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is the most widely-known cannabinoid and is found in high concentrations in most marijuana strains. Its psychoactive properties cause a “high” feeling.

  • euphoria
  • relaxation
  • pain relief
  • appetite stimulation
  • anti-inflammatory
  • amplified senses
  • improved sense of well-being
  • increased creativity
  • prevention of nerve damage
  • antispasmodic, minimizing spasms and convulsions
  • minimization of vomiting and nausea
  • antioxidant, fighting free radicals in the body
  • promotes growth of new brain cells
  • protects brain cells from damage

When patients consume too much THC, it is possible to experience negative effects. Potential side effects of THC include:

  • anxiety and paranoia
  • confusion or disorientation
  • dry mouth and eyes
  • short-term memory problems
  • potential long-term alterations to memory (particularly verbal memory)
  • increased heart rate
  • sense of slowed time
  • decreased body temperature
  • tremors
  • tolerance over time, reducing effectiveness of THC

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A)

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A)

THC-A has numerous benefits as a neuro-protectant and anti-inflammatory agent. THC starts in the cannabis plant as THC-A, an acidic compound that is non-psychoactive. When heated, THC-A converts to THC, producing a high; this occurs through decarboxylation. When applying heat to marijuana (decarboxylation), chemical reactions occur and transform THC-A into THC.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

THCV is similar to THC in its molecular structure and psychoactive properties but produces different effects. THCV is an appetite suppressant, can regulate blood sugar levels, reduces anxiety, and stimulates bone growth. THCV also improves tremors, motor control, and brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. THCV is not common in most strains, but is most abundant in African sativas such as Durban Poison, Pineapple Purps, and Willie Nelson.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that balances the effects of THC. CBD has many medical benefits. Some medical marijuana users prefer CBD to treat their symptoms because of the minimized feelings of euphoria in strains offering higher CBD content.

Benefits of CBD:

  • balances/reduces THC’s negative effects
  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • neuron protection against injury and degeneration
  • mood improvement
  • pain relief
  • antipsychotic characteristics
  • anti-spasmodic
  • decreased appetite

Potential side effects of CBD:

  • dry mouth
  • low blood pressure
  • lightheadedness
  • drowsiness (may be a benefit depending on goal)

Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN is created when THC is exposed to air. When marijuana is left out in the air, it will have a higher concentration of CBN; this is why many patients keep their marijuana in tightly sealed containers to maintain THC levels. CBN is psychoactive, but at a much lower level compared to THC. CBN causes little to no psychoactive effects, even though it is a psychoactive cannabinoid. This is because CBN content is usually less than 1% in marijuana products.

CBN is known for its ability to fight insomnia or sleep issues. It offers similar effects to pharmaceutical sedatives in smaller doses; 5mg of CBN has the same effect as 10mg of diazepam.

Positive effects of CBN include:

  • appetite stimulant
  • sleep aid
  • effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant strains of MRSA infections
  • pain relief
  • anti-inflammatory
  • immune system regulation
  • anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant
  • supports bone cell growth
  • antioxidant, fighting free radicals in the body
  • reduces intraocular pressure

Potential side effects of CBN:

  • groggy feeling
  • dizziness
  • confusion

Cannabigerol (CBG)

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG is non-psychoactive and is a foundation for THC and CBD. It is formed early in the growing cycle and is not found in large quantities as the plant matures. Strains with higher CBG content tend to minimize the negative effects of THC for many users.

Benefits of CBG:

  • relief of intraocular pressure
  • antibiotic effects
  • antifungal effects
  • pain relief
  • possible anti-tumor effects
  • antidepressant
  • mood regulation
  • antioxidant, fighting free radicals in the body
  • anti-inflammatory
  • counteracts paranoia sometimes experienced with THC

Cannabichromene (CBC)

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is the second most available cannabinoid in marijuana after THC.

Benefits of CBC:

  • anti-inflammatory in the intestinal tract
  • anti-tumor effects
  • antidepressant
  • mild anti-fungal
  • antibacterial against E. coli, staph infections, etc.
  • encourages the growth of new brain cells
  • pain relief, although not as significant as other cannabinoids

Although cannabinoids have individual strengths, when combined, their positive effects are boosted. The entourage effect is the combined effect experienced from marijuana’s different parts. Marijuana’s cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as hundreds of its other chemical compounds, work together to produce a synergistic effect.

Research proves that whole plant cannabis affects individuals differently than pure THC. An example of this is how CBD is thought to block many of the negative effects of THC while enhancing many of THC’s benefits. Dually, CBD contributes its own medical benefits. CBD changes the way THC acts on the body by binding to different receptors and changing how responsive they are to THC. CBN, CBG, CBC, and other cannabinoids also impact THC’s effects in different ways.

The entourage effect allows us to understand why certain strains of marijuana affect users in unique ways. Different marijuana strains have vastly different chemical profiles, causing different experiences in the same person. For example, sometimes marijuana can make a person feel calm, while at other times it can make that same person anxious. Each strain contains a unique profile of hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes, which come together to produce the plant’s effects. If you change the strain, you change the effects.

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