The cannabis plant contains over 120 total cannabinoids. But few people know minor cannabinoids except THC and CBD.
Studies show that these two cannabinoids are responsible for the psychoactive and therapeutic effects of hemp. The other cannabinoids have their own unique values and help enhance the effects of two major cannabinoids1.
It is difficult to analyse all cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Some of them are present at very low levels in commercially available supplements. Thus it is difficult for scientists to detect them accurately.
Here are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis except THC and CBD. Kindly note that many of them may be absent or present in just traces in commercially available supplements. Despite low concentration, they may influence the quality of the supplement.
THCA is a precursor of THC, the active component of cannabis, and it is the main constituent found in the fresh and undried cannabis plant. While the plant dries, THCA is progressively decarboxylated to THC. Due to its chemical properties, THCA contributes to cannabis anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies found it acts as antispasmodic substance2.
CBDA, one of the main constituent in cannabis, is found in live plants of CBD varieties. CBDA converts to the better-known cannabinoid CBD over time and when the plant is exposed to heat3.
CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is produced from the degradation of THC. The fresh plant contains very little CBN. Mostly it is found in aged cannabis. The degradation of THC into CBN is often described as creating sedative effect4.
CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It possesses antibacterial properties, and some findings show it can alter the overall effects of cannabis. Some findings show CBG may kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation and promote bone growth5. But CBG is a minor constituent of cannabis, and the plant contains very little amount of CBG to affect significantly.
CBC is mostly found in tropical cannabis varieties. As CBC does not have psychotropic effects, it is not scheduled by the Convention of Psychotropic Substances6. The effects of CBC appear to be mediated through non-cannabinoid receptor interactions.
THCV is a minor cannabinoid found in some strains of cannabis. In comparison with THC, THCV has a propyl (3-carbon) side chain instead of a pentyl (5-carbon) group on the molecule. Though, according to the studies, this variation may seem very subtle. THCV is being studied for its potential involvement in reducing panic attacks, suppression of appetite and promotion of bone growth7.
CBDV differs from CBD only by the inclusion of pentyl (5-carbon) instead of propyl (3-carbon) side chain on the molecule. But some research found positive effects of CBDV which contribute to the treatment of epilepsy.
A number of trials for cannabinoids usage have been conducted to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness. The findings enabled to develop some practical guidelines for cannabis-related products and their usage. But more studies are needed to show the medicinal effects of cannabinoids. Due to their low amount in the cannabis plant, the scientists are still discussing their critical role8 and focus on their chemical values.
- Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
- McPartland JM, MacDonald C, Young M, Grant PS, Furkert DP, Glass M. Affinity and Efficacy Studies of Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid A at Cannabinoid Receptor Types One and Two. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):87-95. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0032
- Russo EB. Cannabis Therapeutics and the Future of Neurology. Front Integr Neurosci. 2018;12. doi:10.3389/fnint.2018.00051
- Mahadevan A, Siegel C, Martin BR, Abood ME, Beletskaya I, Razdan RK. Novel Cannabinol Probes for CB1 and CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors. J Med Chem. 2000;43(20):3778-3785. doi:10.1021/jm0001572
- Navarro G, Varani K, Reyes-Resina I, et al. Cannabigerol Action at Cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 Receptors and at CB1–CB2 Heteroreceptor Complexes. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00632
- convention_1971_en.pdf. https://www.unodc.org/pdf/convention_1971_en.pdf. Accessed December 7, 2019.
- Englund A, Atakan Z, Kralj A, Tunstall N, Murray R, Morrison P. The effect of five day dosing with THCV on THC-induced cognitive, psychological and physiological effects in healthy male human volunteers: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot trial. J Psychopharmacol (Oxf). 2016;30(2):140-151. doi:10.1177/0269881115615104
- Notcutt W, Clarke EL. Cannabinoids in Clinical Practice: A UK Perspective. Oxford University Press; 2014.