One undeniable benefit of cannabis legalization—whether recreational, medical or both—is the chance to discover additional cannabinoids beyond THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
A cannabinoid is a chemical compound secreted by the cannabis flower. The science is still murky, thanks to a lack of medical research as a result of prohibition, but there are at least 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant—and possibly even more. Once ingested, these chemicals interact with receptors in the body to alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. Cannabinoids regulate communication between cells, which provides mental and physical effects like pain reduction, intoxication and nausea and anxiety relief, to mention just a few. They also bind to receptors, producing different effects depending on the ingestion method and where on the body they bind.
The two most well-known are THC, which is responsible for making people feel high, and CBD, which is said to be used for anxiety and pain management, among many other things.
Here are a handful of other cannabinoids, many of which are appearing in products in the mainstream cannabis market, and what they may be useful for.
CBG: A personal favorite of mine because I suffer from gastrointestinal health problems, CBG, or cannabigerol, has shown promise in studies with mice for treating irritable bowel disease, Huntington’s disease and colorectal cancer, among other things. It also has antibacterial properties, particularly against MRSA. I like to use Extract Labs’ Full Spectrum 1.
Delta-8: Different from its chemical near-neighbor THC by just a few chemical bonds, Delta-8-THC can also produce a serious body high, though with less intensity than regular old THC. I keep a package of Delta-8 Protab on hand.
THC-A: Another near cousin to THC but with no intoxicating effects, THC-A is the compound found in the raw cannabis plant, before decarboxylation (the heating process that converts THC-A to THC, among other things). It is said to be useful for combating nausea and appetite loss, anti-inflammatory applications and pain relief, and also acts as a neuro-protective agent. I am a huge fan of Papa & Barkley’s THC-A Living Tincture, which is a solventless, whole-plant concentrate made with the highest safety standards and best quality bud.
CBN: CBN, or cannabinol, is also non-intoxicating. It’s created when THC, which forms in the plant as a result of the decarboxylation process, ages. It is said to stimulate appetite, which can be good for people with health conditions that may hinder eating, like cancer. It is also said to be a neuro-protectant, is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and may be able to alleviate symptoms of glaucoma. It can also make one sleepy—Atlas makes a nice nighttime tea infused with CBN and CBD.