Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in cannabis that give the plant medicinal value. By binding to the receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, these chemicals can produce an array of effects. Cannabinoids have been known to bring relief to symptoms such as pain, nausea, and inflammation, as well as induce appetite and energy. Whether isolated or used in conjunction with other cannabinoids, patients have been able to find relief for a myriad of symptoms specific to their qualifying condition.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most well-known and abundantly available cannabinoid in marijuana. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that works with the body's endocannabinoid system to produce the euphoric effects, or "high," that users experience. According to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, there is evidence that patients who are treated with cannabis or cannabinoids "are more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms." These same researchers report that, for adults with muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis, there is substantial evidence that certain oral cannabinoids, including THC, can improve symptoms. The study goes on to say that for adults who experience nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, "there is conclusive evidence" that cannabinoids, such as THC, are effective in preventing and treating side effects. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, THC can help increase the appetites of AIDS patients.
Cannabigerol is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid extracted from budding marijuana plants during the flowering stage. Research shows that CBG strains may be effective in treating glaucoma, with the American Glaucoma Society reporting that marijuana or related compounds could protect the optic nerve. The cannabinoid has also shown promising neuroprotective effects. Its cancer-fighting properties are well documented, with one study discovering its ability to block colon cancer. It has also shown promise in various other capacities, including as a painkiller, antidepressant, antifungal, and a treatment for breast cancer.
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a product of THC, but with little to no psychoactive effect. CBN is the most powerful sedative of all cannabinoids. Some of its many other benefits include pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2012 study found CBN plays a part in appetite stimulation, which can help ease side effects of AIDS and cancer treatments.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been shown to effectively treat pain, inflammation, anxiety and epilepsy without the psychoactive effects associated with THC. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, CBD is thought to have significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic activity without the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabichromene, or CBC, is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that has the same origins as CBD and THC. Like CBG, CBC has shown promise in inhibiting tumor growth in cancer patients. It also works to block pain and inflammation, especially in conjunction with other cannabinoids. The cannabinoid may also encourage neurogenesis, which is critical in patients with dementia and Alzheimer's.
THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)
Often mistaken for THC, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a cannabinoid acid that only exists in live cannabis plants. Although THCA becomes THC when the plant is dried, THCA is completely non-intoxicating. Decarboxylation, the process of applying heat through vaporization, causes a more rapid conversion to THC. The cannabinoid acid's many medical benefits make it a promising treatment for a wide range of conditions. Studies have found THCA to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. Its anti-proliferative effects have been shown to inhibit tumor cell growth. And its anti-inflammatory properties could make it beneficial for any number of pain or autoimmune conditions.
CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)
Cannabidiolic acid is a cannabinoid acid found in the resinous trichomes of fresh cannabis plants. Much like THCA, CBDA precedes CBD, only breaking down from its acid form when it is aged or heated. While less research has been conducted on CBDA, studies have shown the cannabinoid acid could help treat nausea and pain.