Health Benefits of Marijuana Cannabinoids (THC, CBD, and more)

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Cannabinoids are what makes marijuana so coveted and at present THC and CBD are the most commercially popular. However, most people may not be aware that there are at least 114 marijuana cannabinoids that have already been studied and there are possibly more to be discovered. 

Here we’ll be mentioning some of the top cannabinoids that may likely hit the market soon because of the benefits that they offer. 

THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is well-known for its psychoactive effect that is popular among recreational users. Meanwhile, most medical marijuana users prefer strains with a balanced ratio of THC and CBD that is better suited for relieving debilitating pain and easing the effects of cancer and chemotherapy. Although specific cannabinoids such as THC or CBD can be used solely to treat pain and related conditions, marijuana enthusiasts like to point out that it is best to consume marijuana with all its cannabinoids, terpenes, and various other compounds since the effect will greater compared to that of isolated cannabinoids. This is called the “entourage effect”.  

High THC strains or extracts are not just for getting high. Aside from the usual benefits of marijuana, this cannabinoid is typically used for:

  • Appetite stimulation
  • Treatment of glaucoma
  • Reduction of nausea and muscle spasms

CBD

Benjah-bmm27, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In recent years, cannabidiol or CBD grew in popularity because it is able to provide most of THC and marijuana’s sought-after benefits without the psychoactive effect. In fact, it is even known to counter the high associated with marijuana. Since it can be extracted from hemp, CBD also has significantly fewer legal issues associated with it.

In addition to being a powerful pain reliever and muscle relaxant, CBD is typically taken for:

  • Anxiety relief
  • Depression and PTSD
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Seizures and other neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s 
  • Inflammations and allergies
  • Bone growth

CBD is more popularly taken as a tincture, an edible, or as a topical since it is not necessary to smoke it to get the full effect.  

CBN

Micasta, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cannabinol or CBN is what you get when THC degrades further when buds are left to mature longer or during prolonged decarboxylation or oxidation. CBN does not cause a high and is thought to have more of a sedative effect. However, this is still being studied as it has been pointed out that the effect is not from CBN alone but with its interaction with THC. By itself, studies have shown that it may be able to help prevent motor neural conditions like Lou Gerhig’s disease.  

CBG

Cannabigerol or CBG naturally occurs in very minute amounts in marijuana which is why there are relatively fewer studies on it. However, it is the precursor to most other cannabinoids including THC and CBD. What is known so far is that CBG is an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress which destroys cells. It is also a powerful vasodilator that can help with glaucoma. In addition to having the same antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties, CBG was also recently found to have potential against MRSA, a particularly deadly hospital bacteria.

CBGA

Bri, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Similar to THC and CBD which has THCA and CBDA as their acidic precursors, respectively, CBG has cannabigerolic acid. However, CBGA is considered to be the “mother cannabinoid” since it also transforms into THC or CBD. 

As the foundational compound in marijuana, CBGA holds a lot of promise as it can be used to synthesize other cannabinoids. Medical research into it is scarce but it may eventually be developed into a drug for diabetics. Studies have found that CBGA can greatly inhibit aldose reductase which is a major contributor to oxidative stress that causes complications of cardiovascular disease in diabetics. A 2019 simulation also showed that it may be able to activate peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs) which regulate metabolism. People with impaired PPARs typically develop diabetes or high cholesterol. 

CBGA’s cytotoxic effects also showed potential in killing cancer cells arresting the cancer cell cycle. Researchers believe that it may one day hold the key to an effective course of treatment for colorectal cancer.

CBC

Mykhal, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

As one of the six cannabinoids prominent in medical research, cannabichromene or CBC may unlock more about the entourage effect since it has been observed to work particularly well with other cannabinoids. 

It does, however, have its own singular benefits. CBC has been observed to have strong anti-cancer properties since it can prolong the presence of anandamide in the bloodstream. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that naturally occurs in the body and has been shown to be effective against breast cancer. 

CBC has also shown a host of other benefits similar to CBD, such as:

  • Positive impact on brain cells
  • Anti-inflammatory properties that help with pain and acne

FAQ about THC, CBD and other Cannabinoids

What is a cannabinoid?

Cannabinoids are compounds found in marijuana that gives it its sought-after effects. One of the most popular is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol which has an intoxicating effect.

How many cannabinoids are there in marijuana?

At present, there are 114 different cannabinoids that have been discovered in cannabis.

Are all cannabinoids healthy for humans?

Although studies have shown that marijuana creates a mild dependence in humans, marijuana and its cannabinoids are generally safe and in fact, have tremendous therapeutic use.

What are the best cannabinoids in marijuana for humans?

Although CBD has been shown to have dozens of health benefits over other major cannabinoids in marijuana, it is also one of the most studied. There is a good chance that further research into other cannabinoids will reveal more benefits but for now, marijuana experts encourage using marijuana flowers or full-spectrum extracts because of the “entourage effect”.

What’s the best way to absorb cannabinoids in marijuana?

This largely depends on what kind of condition you will be using it for. For example, CBD in topical form may be more appropriate for skin conditions while tinctures work better for anxiety or insomnia. In general, if you want to ingest the acidic precursors of most major cannabinoids (e.g. THCa, CBDa), the best way would be to raw juice cannabis. Otherwise, the best way to use dried and cured flowers would be to smoke or vape them while extracts are best used vaped or as tinctures.

Conclusion

As you may have noticed, most of these cannabinoids are also able to provide the same or related effects typically associated with marijuana such as appetite stimulation, reduction of inflammation and allergies, prevention of neurodegenerative conditions, even the suppression of nausea and other cancer symptoms. There are also a growing number of studies that show that these cannabinoids generally complement each other to provide effects that you would not get from isolates. This is why in most cases, it is preferable to use flowers and full-spectrum extracts both for medical and recreational use.

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