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Medical marijuana is now legal in 37 states and quickly counting. More people are using it than ever before to prevent and treat disease and much scientific evidence exists to prove them intelligent folks. Almost daily, you read or hear about new therapeutic uses for cannabis, but what is it exactly that makes this plant such valuable medicine for humankind?

Understanding Cannabinoids

The human body has its own system to regulate most physiological processes, such as appetite, mood, memory, pain perception, sleeping cycles, and more. It is the endocannabinoid system. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, when it malfunctions, due to deficiency or defect, it can cause a myriad of unwanted diseases. This naturally forming system is compatible with phytocannabinoids too, which are those found in marijuana.

When you consume cannabis, phytocannabinoids bind immediately to endocannabinoid receptors abundant in the brain and immune system. The effects this has on your body will depend on the specific receptors to which they attach. Cannabidiol, or CBD, for example, binds specifically to CB2 receptors. Effects vary hugely depending on the quantity of cannabinoids that you consume.

There are more than 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis plants. As The Hill explains, due to federal stubbornness to keep it prohibited research restrictions make study difficult. Despite this, private funding and legalization in individual states is opening doors for research and results are flooding in. All cannabinoids are important, just some more than others.

As scientists discover more cannabinoids, and even more uses for them, our knowledge of these miraculous plants grows. We now know that cannabinoids are essential to maintaining the endocannabinoid system in good health, which in turn keeps the body functioning optimally. However, apart from THC and CBD, few know anything of cannabinoids and their properties. It is time to learn:


  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, or THCA

THCA is the primary cannabinoid in raw marijuana. When you heat it at a certain temperature, by cooking, vaping, or burning it, THCA concerts to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Unlike THC, however, THCA is non-psychoactive. It will not make you “high.” Acidic cannabinoids contain the most COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition, making it a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is also antispasmodic and anti-proliferative.  


  • Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC

Everyone knows THC. It is what makes you stoned and is, by far, the most famous of cannabinoids. It is also the most abundant of them all. THC influences CB1 and CB2 receptors by acting as a partial agonist. It is analgesic and capable of reducing even the worst types of pain. Additionally, cellular research shows THC with potent antioxidant properties.  


  • Cannabidiolic Acid, or CBDA

CBDA, much like THCA, is the primary compound in strains of cannabis with high CBD levels. As with THCA, albeit more selectively, CBDA also inhibits COX-2 enzymes, whether you smoke, vape, or ingest CBD oil. This mechanism of action contributes hugely to the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis. However, strains high in THC contain less CBDA than CBD-rich strains.


  • Cannabidiol, or CBD

Medically, CBD is a wonder cannabinoid. This is especially true if you apply the right CBD to THC ratio to treat a specific health complaint. It acts as an antagonist for both endocannabinoid receptors, being CB1 and CB2, yet it does not bind particularly well to either. This indicates that other receptors in the body and brain mediate CBD’s mechanism of action, and not just the CB1 and CB2 receptors.


  • Cannabinol, or CBN

When THC degrades, it produces CBN. As such, CBN is mildly psychoactive, responsible for the dull buzz associated with consuming stale cannabis. Fresh plants contain little to no CBN, which is a weak agonist to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, it seems to prefer CB2 receptors more. The conversion of THC into CBN creates a sedating effect, commonly called “couchlock.”


  • Cannabigerol, or CBG

CBG is another important non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It is such a powerful antibacterial that it can actually change the effects of marijuana overall. It slows bacterial growth, even kills bacterium outright. It is also an anti-inflammatory, especially when in its acidic form of CBGA. It inhibits growth in cancer cells and it stimulates bone growth. CBG is a low-affinity antagonist of the CB1 receptor.


  • Cannabichromene, or CBC

CBC is abundant in tropical marijuana strains. Known as a powerful painkiller, CBC also lowers inflammation, inhibits cancer cell growth, and like CBG, promotes the growth of healthy bones. It does not appear to interact much with CB1 and CB2 receptors, preferring other mechanisms of action with non-cannabinoid receptors.


  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV

Related somewhat to THC, THCV is a minor cannabinoid. Not all cannabis strains have it. The difference between THC and THCV is the existence of a 3-carbon propyl group instead of a 5-carbon pentyl group. This may seem insignificant, but it gives THCV very different effects to THC. These include appetite suppression and a major decrease in panic attacks. It is a CB1 antagonist and a partial CB2 agonist.


  • Cannabidivarin, or CBDV

As with THCV, CBDV substitutes a 5-carbon pentyl sidechain for a propyl one of three carbons. Although research into its medical capabilities is still in its early phase, recent evidence shows it managing epilepsy most effectively. It reduces both the frequency and intensity of seizures by modulating the expression of genes and manipulating TRPV1 receptors in the body.


These are all essential cannabinoids for human health. However, not all strains contain all of them. If you are using cannabis medicinally, then it is imperative that you only buy laboratory-tested cannabis that informs you of exactly what is in it. Cannabinoid therapy is skyrocketing in popularity, so choose your cannabinoids wisely.

Author Bio: Camilla Morgan is a blogger by profession with 5 years of experience. She is associated with CBD Safe and selling pure Cannabidiol & Best CBD oil products in the USA. She is an admirer of sharing her innovative ideas with others on the Wellness for Mind and Body.