Category Archives: Cannabinoids

What Are Cannabinoids?


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to a wide range of medical symptoms including but not limited to pain, nausea and inflammation, among others.

Amazingly, there are well over 500 naturally occurring  compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant (marijuana). One specific compound in particular is called “Cannabigerol Acid” or CBG-A for short. A strong cannabinoid in and of itself, this multifaceted component is believed to be the “mother” or “grandmother” to all of the rest of the underlying cannabinoids produced by this remarkable plant.

With more than 85 cannabis compounds already classified as cannabinoids (chemicals uniquely specific to this one plant), all have demonstrated medical value and have been divided into subclasses which include:

  • Cannabigerols (CBG)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC)
  • Cannabidiols (CBD)
  • Cannabichromenes (CBC)
  • Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
  • There are also Cannabicyclol (CBL), Cannabielsoin (CBE), Cannabitriol (CBT) and other miscellaneous types

Some of the more widely researched cannabinoids include THC-A, CBD-A, CBC-A and CBN-A. While compiling research for this article, we searched the PubMed database for scientific journal articles published in the last 20 years containing the word “cannabinoid” and found 20,991 published articles. On average, this equates to nearly three scientific publications per day over the last 20 years.

Major Cannabinoids in Medical Marijuana

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC is an acronym for “tetrahydrocannibinol” and is  probably the best know cannabinoid present in medical marijuana.  Physically it acts as a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory and psychologically it acts as a stimulant.  This combination makes medical marijuana strains high in THC a good choice for patients seeking symptom relief while remaining alert and active.

THC in medical marijuana acts in the following ways:

  • anti-epileptic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-depressant
  • stimulates appetite
  • lowers blood pressure

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is an acronym for “cannabidiol” and it has become one of the most widely studied cannabinoids.  Accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract, CBD is considered to have a wider scope of medical applications than THC.

Since CBD produces almost no psychotropic effects in patients, its lack of psycho-activity presents a great advantage over THC because it can be safely used without fear of patients becoming intoxicated and unable to function.

Besides medical marijuana, CBD is one of the dominant cannabinoids found in industrial hemp and hemp oil is legal to purchase in all 50 states.  CBD has numerous known beneficial properties and has an analgesic, antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect. It is also being explored for its neuro-protective properties in which the structures of the brain and central nervous system are protected against damage, including further damage, in the case of degenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s. This area of medicine is of huge and growing importance. Perhaps most excitingly, CBD has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the proliferation of cancer cells.

CBD can also reduce the psychological effects of medical marijuana for most patients.  A strain that has high THC levels and high CBD levels will have fewer “mental” effects and more physical ones.  Strains high in CBD levels like Charlotte’s Web, Blueberry and Harlequin are especially effective for illnesses with strong physical symptoms.

CBD effects include:

  • reduced pain
  • reduced anxiety
  • reduced nausea
  • sedative effects
  • anti-convulsive
  • anti-schizophrenic

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN is an acronym for “cannabinol” which is very similar to THC, but has less psychological effects.  CBN is produced as THC breaks down within the medical marijuana plant. High THC concentrations within a strain will make cannabinol’s effects stronger, and very high CBN levels can produce undesirably strong head highs in patients.

CBN levels tend to be high in medical marijuana strains like Strawberry Haze and Blue Rhino, which can be particularly helpful for:

  • lowering pressure in the eye (such as with Glaucoma)
  • analgesic effects
  • anti-seizure needs

CBC (Cannabichromene)

CBC is an acronym for “cannabichromene” whose main action is to enhance the effects of THC. High CBC concentrations will make a high THC medical marijuana strains much more potent.

CBC working together with THC is known to be a:

  • sedative
  • analgesic
  • anti-inflammatory

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBG is an acronym for “cannabigerol” which produces no psychological effects on its own and is not found in high amounts in most medical marijuana.  Scientists believe that CBG is actually one of the oldest forms of cannabinoids, meaning it is essentially a “parent” or “mother” to other cannabinoids found in medical marijuana.  It also has anti-microbial properties.

CBG has physical effects such as:

  • lowering pressure in the eye (such as with Glaucoma)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • sedative
  • sleep assistance

Alone, none of the five major cannabinoids are as effective as when they work together and these five cannabinoids also work with the minor compounds in marijuana to provide maximum relief.

How Do Cannabinoids Work In The Body?

In our bodies we have a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems which are commonly referred to as the endocannabinoid system (“EC System“).

Evidence has shown that the EC System modulates the function of the hypothalamus (the brains reward system) and the brainstem, coordinating the crosstalk between these brain structures and peripheral organs. In fact, the EC System is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, body temperature, blood pressure, motor coordination, pain-sensation, moodmemory and specifically maintaining health.

Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the entire human body:  in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the EC System performs different tasks, but the underlying goal is always the same; achieve homeostasis (metabolic equilibrium).

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Homeostasis is defined as:

“Any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues. The stability attained is actually a dynamic equilibrium, in which continuous change occurs yet relatively uniform conditions prevail.”

The ability of the body or a cell to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium or stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes is of key importance and a functional EC System is essential for health.

Endocannibinoids are chemicals produced naturally in humans and animals that bind to the same receptors as do plant-derived cannabinoids.  Cannabinoids themselves are unique chemical structures that can only be found in the cannabis plant. The most commonly known cannabinoid is tetrahydracannabinol (THC), which is also the compound responsible for the psychotropic effect or the “high” feeling derived from consuming cannabis.

However, with more than 85 different cannabinoids identified so far, these other compounds have chemical structures very similar to THC, but their biological effects are quite different with virtually no psychotropic potential.  Besides THC, the most widely studied cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD) which has shown potent anti-cancer and anti-psychotic effects.  Both THC and CBD have a wide range of known biological effects such as anti-inflammatory, antibiotic or analgesic qualities.

Medicinal cannabis is not new at all. In fact, the cannabis plant is mentioned in many of the oldest books on medicine known to mankind.  While there are many medical conditions and symptoms for which modern medicine has not yet developed an acceptable treatment, for some serious conditions there seems to be sufficient scientific data to justify the use of medical grade cannabis by approved patients.

“There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of disease as now, and all their discoveries are tending toward the simple truth that you can’t improve on nature.”

Thomas Edison 1902

Cannabinoid research has proven this statement is still valid.  Working their medical magic, cannabinoids imitate compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which activate to maintain internal stability and health. In other words, they mediate communication between cells, and when there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and physical complications occur.

Medical marijuana has been proven to reduce unpleasant physical symptoms and physical complications providing relief and comfort to patients.

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CBC – Cannabichromene

A chemical in medical marijuana known as Cannabichromene (“CBC”) is changing the debate over the use of cannabis as a medicine. CBC is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. In fact, it is the second most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana. Meaning there is likely more CBC in your cannabis than CBD, even though CBD gets all the attention.

CBC Molecule

Cannabichromene (CBC) Molecule
Cannabichromene (CBC)

Research over the past two decades has shown why this non-psychoactive compound has given us reasons to take notice.

CBC has shown to be effective in:

  • Reducing Inflammation
  • Fighting Bacteria and Fungi
  • Inhibiting Cell Growth in Tumors/Cancer Cells
  • Relieving Pain
  • Combatting Depression
  • Stimulating Bone and Brain Growth
  • Decreasing Stress

May Inhibit Cancer Growth

CBC is believed to inhibit the growth of certain types of cancerous tumors, particularly breast cancer cells. Due to its interaction with the human endocannabinoid anandamide known to fight breast cancer, CBC inhibits its uptake allowing it to stay in the bloodstream longer. Studies suggest CBC works best in conjunction with CGC and THC to create a synergetic effect.


Studies have been confirmed that CBC stimulates brain growth. As neurogenic compounds are very rare, this makes it a very important cannabinoid worth significant research. This could make CBC useful in treating Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.


In a 2010 study, both THC and CBC were shown to display significant anti-depressant qualities and contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis.

Analgesic Qualities

Shown to have great promise as an analgesic painkiller, perhaps as good as CBD.

Promotes Anti-Inflammatory Healing

In two recent studies, CBC was shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. Interestingly it was found that the mechanism of action did not involve CB1, CB2 or the TRPA1 receptors, like with THC and CBD which could imply another type of receptor site is present.

Stress Reduction

Just like CBD and THC, CBC has also been shown to be ten times as powerful as CBD at reducing anxiety and stress.

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CBN – Cannabinol

Cannabinol (“CBN”) is a weak psychoactive cannabinoid found in trace amounts in Sativa and Indica cannabis strains. CBN is created by the degradation of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol when it is exposed to light and oxygen.  Known to have some mild psychoactive effects, CBN is not scheduled at the federal level but does increase the effects of THC.

It may make users dizzy or groggy, and it is not usually sough-after for medicinal purposes. If you don’t want an intense body high, keep your cannabis in an airtight container away from light. CBN has also shown promise for those suffering from Glaucoma, inflammation and insomnia. CBN is often referred to as a natural aspirin or non-narcotic type pain reliever (analgesic) and is estimated to be three times stronger.

CBN Molecule

Cannabinol (CBN)
Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN has shown to be effective in:

  • Reducing Epileptic Outbursts
  • Alleviating Muscle Shakes and Spasms
  • Inducing Sleep
  • Reducing Depression
  • Lowers Intraocular Pressure
  • Replacing Pain Relievers (Advil)

CBN aides those suffering from:

  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinsons’s Disease
  • Gout
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Insomnia
  • Glaucoma

Sleep Aid

Cannabis is widely used as a sleep-aid for those who suffer from insomnia and cannabinol is the reason why. CBN is the cannabinoid responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis.


Another use for cannabinol is as an anti-bacterial and has shown potent activity against MRSA infections when applied as a topical. Topical uses also have shown promise in treating burns and psoriasis.


Some early studies have suggested it could stimulate bone growth. If that is the case, it would be helpful in treating osteoporosis and could help those with broken bones to recovery more quickly.


Recent studies suggest that CBN can be administered as an antidepressant and can be used to prevent convulsions and to sedate patients experiencing pain.

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CBD – Cannabidiol

CBD is the second largest major medical compound identified besides THC.  It is non-psychoactive and has been show to be effective in treating  a multitude of symptoms from Acne to Schizophrenia. It has also been reported to have anti-convulsive, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, anti-nausea, anti-rheumatoid arthritic and sedative properties.

CBD is used to help with acne, ADD, anxiety, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, Dravet syndrome, epilepsy, glaucoma, Huntington’s Disease, inflammation, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. CBD has also been shown to stop the spread of cancer cells.

CBD Molecule

CBD - Cannabidiol
CBD – Cannabidiol

CBD has shown to be effective in treating:

  • Skin Ailments – Acne & Psoriasis
  • Diabetes
  • Dravet Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
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THC – Sativa Strains (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

Sativa dominant strains are tall, thin plants, with narrow leaves and are lighter green in color than Indica strains.  Sativa dominant strains tend to have higher concentrations of THC, than Indica strains, however are less potent in general.

THC – Sativa has shown to be effective in:

  • Cerebral Clarity
  • Increased Focus and Creativity
  • Mood Enhancing
  • Energizing

THC – Sativa aides those suffering from:

  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Mood Disorders
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Depression
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THC – Indica Strains (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

Indica dominant strains are short dense plants, with broad leaves and often grow a darker green color than Sativa strains.  Indica plants tend to be higher in Cannabidnol (CBD) and provide great pain relief.

THC – Indica has shown to be effective in:

  • Muscle Relaxation
  • General Analgesic
  • Reducing Nausea
  • Increasing Appetite
  • Reducing Stress
  • Reducing Pain

THC – Indica aides those suffering from:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Stress
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