Cannabis is arguably one of the most popular herbs today and understandably so. Various extracts of the plant have been recommended for the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions that are symptomized by pain.
Cannabis extracts can help to treat both nociceptive and neurological pain, which makes them a perfect natural remedy for physical injuries and chronic conditions like arthritis.
In addition to treating pain, cannabis can also help manage various anxiety disorders, alleviate inflammatory conditions, boost appetite, and relieve insomnia.
But the plant didn’t just become popular overnight. According to research, cannabis has been used both as a medicinal and culinary herb from time immemorial, particularly in Central and Southeast Asia. So, if you’ve yet to join in on the cannabis craze, you’re missing out on a lot.
There are over 480 compounds in cannabis that researchers have identified so far. Most of these compounds are classified as cannabinoids/phytocannabinoids and terpenes/terpenoids.
Cannabinoids account for the therapeutic properties of the plant, whereas terpenes play a role in varying the effects of the phytocannabinoids.
The following are some of the cannabinoids that have been identified in the cannabis plant so far:
- CBD (Cannabidiol)
- THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBV (cannabivarin)
- CBC (Cannabichromene)
- CBCV (Cannabichromevarin)
- CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
- CBE (Cannabielsoin)
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
- CBG (Cannabigerol)
- CBGV (Cannabigerovarin)
- CBL (cannabicyclol)
- CBGM (cannabigerol monomethyl ether)
- CBN (cannabinol)
- CBT (cannabicitran)
- THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin)
Examples of cannabis terpenoids include:
- Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene
- Delta 3 Carene
Out of many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most widely-studied compounds.
The primary difference between cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol is that THC produces psychoactive and intoxicating effects, whereas CBD does not. That explains why CBD is mostly recommended for the treatment of medical conditions.
In fact, CBD accounts for the most therapeutic effects of cannabis and it’s what usually comes to mind whenever you hear of medical marijuana. So far, there are a series of specific FDA-approved drugs that have been formulated using CBD, including Epidiolex that’s used to treat various epileptic disorders.
On the other hand, THC is widely popular among recreational cannabis users, thanks to its euphoria-inducing effects. Many opponents of cannabis users usually cite the plant’s psychoactive effects.
But as you shall find, most of the psychotropic properties of cannabis are attributed to THC. Therefore unless you consume a THC-containing cannabis product, you won’t need to worry about experiencing the famous “high.”
If you visit a mail order marijuana retail outlet, you’ll encounter CBD products selling under three different labels, namely CBD isolates, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD.
Isolates are basically compounds that comprise one substance. So, CBD isolates contain only cannabidiol and no other cannabis compound.
Broad-spectrum CBD include cannabidiol products that contain CBD as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes, except the euphoria-inducing THC.
Lastly, full-spectrum CBD refers to CBD products that have been formulated to include CBD, THC, and as many other compounds as possible.
Five Cannabinoids Besides Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Worth Knowing
1. Cannabigerol (CBG)
Cannabigerol forms the stem cell of nearly all the other cannabinoids, which implies that it’s the precursor of CBD, THC, and various other phytocannabinoids.
Cannabigerol has been linked to the inhibition of the brain chemical, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Gamma-aminobutyric acid is associated with stress and anxiety, foul mood, as well as muscle stiffening. So, by inhibiting the uptake of this chemical, CBG makes you feel more relaxed and upbeat. If you’re suffering from various anxiety disorders and can’t seem to get your hands on cannabidiol, then cannabigerol is definitely your next best choice.
Studies have also cited CBG’s ability to inhibit the uptake of COX-2 thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects. So, just like CBD, CBG can help guard against inflammatory conditions like acne, cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and contact dermatitis.
The same studies also observed that CBG follows a similar mechanism as conventional NSAID medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. But what makes CBG a more desirable alternative to conventional NSAIDs is the fact that it doesn’t come with any side effects. Plus, it’s kinder to your liver, which makes it all the more effective.
Cannabigerol does not come with any psychoactive effects. However, there’s a point of caution to remember when using this cannabinoid – CBG has a tendency to become THC or THCV when subjected under certain conditions.
After converting to THC or THCV, CBG will present the same chemical properties of the two compounds, which means that it will then make you intoxicated.
2. Cannabinol (CBN)
Cannabinol is obtained when THC is exposed to oxygen, particularly through combustion. Essentially, when you heat THC in enough oxygen supply, the oxygen molecule combines with the hydrogen molecule in THC to form water. The heat dispatches the hydrogen molecule from THC while leaving the stronger carbon atoms intact.
So, if you’re looking to experience more tranquilizing effects of CBN, all you need to do is leave it exposed to the air.
Cannabinol is a powerful sedative. As a sedative, CBN is often recommended for the treatment of sleep disorders like insomnia as well as neuropathic pain. According to research, CBN can also help to treat glaucoma.
The sedating effects of CBD make it a less preferable choice if you’re seeking to enter a state of higher alertness. For instance, if you want to stay focused on your work throughout the day, you’re better off with CBD as opposed to CBN.
CBD relieves anxiety, clears mental fatigue, and activates the thought process. That’s in sharp contrast to CBN that shuts down your mind, calms your nerves, and causes you to drift off to sleep. CBN may be a preferable choice for yogists or those who practice mindfulness.
CBN is not psychoactive. However, it comes with mild intoxicating effects. The good news is that the sedating effects of cannabinol will make you so sleepy that you won’t even perceive its mild euphoric properties.
3. Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
As the name implies, Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is quite similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). So, as you may expect, THCV comes with some psychoactive properties.
The fundamental difference between THCV and THC lies in how the two molecules are synthesized in the cannabis plant. Depending on the synthesis process, they might end up nearly identical or very different from one another. THCV is abundant in various cannabis strains, such as Durban Poison and Haze.
Though the research is not conclusive yet, THCV has been associated with anti-obesity effects. THCV lowers your susceptibility to obesity by suppressing your appetite. That’s in sharp contrast to THC that’s known to boost appetite.
THCV is also associated with anti-tremor effects and the findings have been positive among people suffering from neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
Just like THC, THCV is a psychoactive cannabinoid. The mind-altering effects of THCV are described as psychedelic, nearly similar to what you get when you use psychedelic mushrooms.
4. Cannabichromene (CBC)
Unlike many other cannabinoids that are abundant in specific strains, cannabichromene is available in most strains, albeit in small amounts.
The medicinal effects of cannabichromene have been compared to those of CBD. However, this cannabinoid is up to 10 times more effective against stress, anxiety, and depression than CBD.
CBC works to fight against five anxiety disorders – Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder. It also has an incredible ability to trigger the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is associated with happiness, which makes cannabichromene the go-to cannabinoid if you’re grappling with mood swings.
The main reason cannabichromene is highly effective against stress and anxiety is that it lingers in the bloodstream longer compared to CBD and other anti-anxiety cannabinoids. By lingering in your bloodstream much longer, CBC also presents reduced risks of dependency. Not to mention, it’s easier on your wallet as you only need small amounts of a cannabichromene product to experience its long term benefits against stress, anxiety, and depression.
One study also observed that CBC is more effective against inflammatory diseases compared to conventional drugs like phenylbutazone. As an anti-inflammatory compound, CBC slows down tumor growth, promotes bone growth, and relieves migraines. It also comes with some anti-bacterial and antifungal properties.
CBC is almost 100 percent non-psychoactive.
5. Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
Cannabidivarin is a less common compound of the cannabis plant compared to other cannabinoids that we’ve reviewed. CBDV tends to occur at higher levels in feral as opposed to domesticated cannabis plants. It’s mostly abundant in feral plants found in South East Asia, particularly in regions like the Northwest Himalayas and Nepal.
Cannabidivarin bears a close resemblance to CBD, both in chemical structure and medicinal effects. Therefore, its therapeutic properties are nearly similar to those of cannabidiol.
In terms of structural similarity with CBD, CBDV features seven double-bond isomers as well as 30 stereoisomers.
Out of its many therapeutic properties, CBDV has especially been cited for its anticonvulsant and antiepileptic effects. As such, it’s an effective remedy against neurological conditions.
Cannabidivarin doesn’t present any psychoactive effects.
This is our comprehensive review of the top cannabinoids besides CBD and THC. Before incorporating any of these compounds into your routine, ensure you understand its medicinal as well as psychoactive effects.