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What’s In Cannabis?

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Medical prescription with dry cannabis on table close up

Author: Megan Stone

Quick, name all the compounds you can think of that are found in marijuana! While most people know about THC, not a lot of people are aware of what else is in cannabis.There are over 400 natural compounds in medical marijuana, 80 of which are exclusively found in cannabis plants. These 80 compounds are called cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid produces different physical and psychological effects . Research has identified five major cannabinoids that are the most beneficial for medical uses. Each has their own unique medical benefits.

In this article we will learn about these five major cannabinoids:

  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabichoromene (CBC)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)

THC

 THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol is easily the most well-known cannabinoid found in medical marijuana. THC binds to our receptor systems in our brains to produce psychoactive effects. While it acts as a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory, psychologically it works as a stimulant.

Short Term Benefits

  • Sedation
  • Pain relief
  • Increase in appetite
  • Elation

Who Can It Help?

Because THC physically relaxes the body while working as a mental stimulant, it is helpful in treating the symptoms of many different conditions. THC in medical marijuana can help people with:

  • PTSD
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines
  • ADHD
  • Cancer
  • Arthiritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Insomnia
  • Glaucoma
  • Depression

CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most common cannabinoid found in medical marijuana.  Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. In fact, it works to reduce the psychological effects of medical marijuana.  This means that a strain heavy in CBD concentration could be ideal for patients interested in the pain relief aspect of medical marijuana, without wanting the psychoactive effects. CBD works on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our endocannabinoid system.

Short Term Benefits

 Reduced nausea

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Sedation
  • Less physical pain

Who Can It Help?

 CBD has the ability to influence many receptors in the brain. Because of this, CBD has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and pain-relieving properties.  CBD can be useful for treating children for medical conditions, such as autism and Dravet syndrome, as CBD can’t make you high. CBD is particularly effective in helping patients with these conditions:

  • Addiction
  • Epilepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Cancer

CBN

 Cannabinol, or CBN, although similar to THC, has less psychological effects. As THC breaks down in the medical marijuana plant, CBN is produced. The strength of the effects depends on the amount of THC compound. If the THC concentration is high, the resultant cannabinol concentration could lead to strong head highs. For the most part, however, CBN is a great choice for patients who are looking for pain relief while still desiring a clear head. Marijuana strains that contain a high level of CBN include Strawberry Haze and Blue Rhino.

Short Term Benefits

  • Increase in appetite
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation

Who Can It Help?

CBN can be effective for a wide range of ailments, but unfortunately, CBN rich products are rare.  This is because CBN is basically aged THC and plants are often not given the required time needed to mature to produce CBN. This is a shame, because CBN can be helpful in patients with:

  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • Insomnia

CBC

 Cannabichoromene, or CBC, enhances the effects of THC. If the CBC level is high enough, medical marijuana with a heavy concentration of THC will be much more potent. A 2013 study demonstrated that CBC stimulates brain growth. A different study found that CBC has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Short Term Benefits

  • Pain relief
  • Sedation
  • Reduced inflammation

Who Can It Help?

 CBC has mild analgesic properties on its own, but its effect when combined with THC works pain-relieving wonders. It can also be effective in patients with:

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Allergies

CBG

Cannabigerol, or CBG, might seem like the underachiever compound. After all, it is not found in high concentrations in most medical marijuana and has no psychological effects. But CBG is actually one of the oldest forms of cannabinoids, meaning that it is a “parent” to most other cannabinoids in medical marijuana. Additionally, it has unique anti-microbial properties.

Short Term Benefits

  •  Sedation
  • Reduced Inflammation

Who Can It Help?

 CBG has been found to work on very specific physiological systems, meaning that its potential future use for treating medical problems is promising. In one study, it was shown to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth by inhibiting tumors. In another study, it was found to be successful in preventing muscle contractions, showing that it can be a successful tool in dealing with bladder dysfunction disorders. While most medical marijuana does not contain high concentrations of CBG, scientists have been experimenting with cross-breeding and genetic manipulation in order to increase CBG levels. It can be effective in patients with:

  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Uniting the Compounds

 While all of these cannabinoids have unique benefits and properties, they are most successful when they are working together. THC, CBD, CBN, CBC, and CBG all work with other, more minor compounds in medical marijuana to produce desirable psychological and physical effects in their user. Many professional marijuana growers analyze their strains in order to regulate the different levels of each cannabinoid in their products. If they can find the perfect formula for treating specific illnesses and conditions, they can provide maximum relief for their patients.

Now that you know what each specific component brings to the table, you can figure out which strains will work best for your unique situation. As we move forward into a hopefully more cannabis friendly world, the positive medical possibilities are endless.

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