Cannabinoids are chemical compounds, that activate cannabinoid receptors, spread throughout the body of all vertebrates. Cannabinoid receptor activation interacts with neurotransmitters, which has beneficial effect on our endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids can be divided into three groups:
- Phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids that are found in hemp and some other plants)
- Endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced in our bodies)
- Synthetic cannabinoids (laboratory-produced cannabinoids)
Cannabis or hemp plant produces over 400 chemical compounds throughout its life cycle. More than 140 of that chemical (terpenophenolic) compounds are cannabinoids, found in trichomes. By discovering the therapeutic potential of cannabis, this number is only increasing with numerous studies. Cannabinoids are usually obtained from cannabis or hemp, but they could also be found in other cannabinoid plants (purple coneflower, Acmella oleracea, Helichrysum, Humulus,…). Molecular structure of the most famous cannabinoids (THC, CBD) was explained by Raphael Mechoulam in 1963 & 1964.
THC in most commonly found cannabinoid in cannabis. Scientists Wollner, Matchett, Levine and Loewe were the first to extract THC from hemp in 1942 (probably in combination with delta-9 & delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is one of few psychoactive cannabinoids that bind to CB1 & CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the body, and is one of the main reasons that cannabis (except industrial hemp) is illegal in the majority of the world. Even though that THC is mostly abused for the recreational purpose, it can give us many beneficial effects when used correctly:
- Reduces inflammation,
- eases chronic pain,
- reduces risk of heart dissease,
- inhibits macular degeneration and loss of vision,
- helps to treat symptoms in Parkinson’s disease,
- increases appetite,
- can slow down the progress of AIDS,
- encourages the development of neuroplasticity,
- inhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) “doesn’t exist” in hemp or cannabis, but is produced throughout the decarboxilation process of non-psychoactive Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) at 157 °C.
CBD is considered the second most researched cannabinoid in cannabis. Roger Adams, American organic chemist was the first to isolate CBD from other cannabinoids (probably in combination with Cannabidiolic acid – CBDA) in 1940. Similar to THC, CBD also “doesn’t exist” in hemp itself, but is also product of decarboxilation of CBDA at temperatures between 160-180 °C. Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive cannabinoid that doesn’t cause all known THC “high”. Instead it gives us wide variety of benefits to maintain and improve our health:
- Reduces frequency of epileptic seizures,
- eases chronic pain,
- inhibits symptoms of psoriasis,
- reduces risk of heart dissease,
- eases anxiety and paranoia,
- stimulates the formation of new, healthy cells,
- reduces risk of cancer,
- contributes to the treatment of addiction,
- prevents the formation of autoimmune diseases,
- eliminates adverse effects of THC,
- it has anti-inflammatory properties,
Due to the numerous beneficial effects of cannabidiol, more and more CBD enriched hemp products are emerging. For this reason, Hempika ® has decided to offer you a wide range of high quality hemp products that are certified, analysed, produced from organic cannabis, without the use of herbicides, pesticides and mineral fertilizers. All Hempika ® hemp products are manufactured using a modern extraction method with supercritical carbon dioxide, without the use of toxic solvents. Hemp products can be obtained in the form of ointments, tinctures, extracts and other innovative products.
According to studies, Cannabigerol (CBG) is known to be the only cannabinoid with the ability to stimulate the growth of new brain cells. CBG is non-psychoactive cannabinoid and can have a beneficial effect on our body:
- Acts as an antidepressant,
- balances our well-being,
- reduces pain,
- it has antibiotic properties,
- prevents redness of the skin,
- inhibits tumor formation,
- induces bone growth,
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is transformed into a non-psychoactive CBN cannabinoid by ageing and oxidation. Even though CBN was first isolated phytocannabinoid (late 1800’s), it hasn’t been researched as much as THC or CBD. Even with that in mind, Cannabinol also provides many beneficial effects:
- Stimulates appetite,
- controls the further development of the lung tumor (Lewis carcinoma),
- controls the formation of cancer cells,
- inhibits symptoms of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
- it has anti-epileptic properties,
- works as a sedative,
- it can potentiate some of the THC effects,
- successfully fights Meticillin-resistant bacteria (MRSA),
Because of the lack of studies and the very low concentrations of cannabinol in cannabis or hemp, there are only a few known cannabinoid benefits how CBN interacts with your endocannabinoid system. The beneficial effect of cannabinoids are discovered on an allmost daily basis, so we can assure that this will change in future.
CBC is non-psychoactive and is the third most common cannabinoid found in cannabis or hemp. In some cannabis strains, it can even exceed the cannabidiol (CBD) content. When CBC is used in combination with THC, its ability to relieve inflammation increases significantly. CBC predominantly interacts on TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors and has many properties that can have a positive effect on our health:
- Works as an antidepressant,
- stimulates neurogenesis,
- mitigates fungal inflammation
- it has anti-inflammatory properties,
- increases analgesic effect in medical cannabis,
- in combination with other cannabinoids (THC, CBD in CBG), it can effectively deal with tumors and their emergence,
Cannabichromene (CBC) is a special cannabinoid, since it does not only relate to cannabinoid receptors that take care of a balanced endocannabinoid system, but also to some other receptors.
THCV is a homologue of THC and it has similar chemical structure. It is said that in small quantities THCV acts as a THC cannabinoid antagonist (it reduces its effects), but in bigger quantities acts as a THC cannabinoid agonist (it encourages its effects). Because there is a lack of studies, it is hard to say if THCV is a psychoactive or non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Even though, we know some benefits of Tetrahydrocannabivarin:
- It has the ability to regulate blood sugar level,
- stimulates bone growth,
- reduces appetite,
- it has neuroprotective properties,
- it has anti-epileptic properties,
- reduces the possibility of panic attacks,
Despite the already known therapeutic potential that THCV has to offer, a considerable amount of research will be required to fully understand the functioning of this cannabinoid.
Cannabidivarin is CBD homologue and shares a similar chemical structure. CBDV is found in small quantities in hemp and is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Even though there is lack of studies, it is known that cannabidivarin has similar therapeutic properties as cannabidiol (CBD), but with certainty, we can only assert that CBDV helps to reduce nausea and prevent epileptic seizures.
Acid cannabinoids THCA, CBDA, CBCA, CBGA
- THCA synthase enzyme converts CBGA to tetrahydrocannabinolic acid with catalysis
- CBDA synthase enzyme converts CBGA to cannabidiolic acid with catalysis
- CBCA synthase enzyme converts CBGA to cannabichromenic acid with catalysis
Since CBGA is converted to other acid cannabinoids during cannabis growth, many call it “parental” cannabinoid. This cannabinoids (CBDA, CBCA, CBGA and THCA) can be transformed into more known active cannabinoids (CBD, CBC, CBG, THC) with decarboxylation (heating cannabinoids at specific temperatures). Even though that decarboxylated cannabinoids have a wider range of therapeutic potential than acid cannabinoids, their consumption can have beneficial effects on our health:
- CBGA has anti-inflammatory properties but is believed that it has lots of other benefits because it binds to lots of endocannabinoid receptors
- CBDA is very efficient at battling nausea, inflammation, spasms and it has the potential to prevent cancer
- THCA is said to have anti-epileptic properties
Endogenous cannabinoids, are cannabinoids produced inside our bodies (endo – inside). Although that endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids share a lot of common properties and effects, they have a quite different chemical structure. They share a lot of common effects because they bond to the same cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2, TRPV1, PPARα, PPARγ, GPR55,…). In conclusion, endocannabinoids are hydrophobic molecules, that don’t “travel” long distances in our bodies, but have an effect close to where they were synthesized – they are intracellular lipid carriers of signals between nearby cells.
A considerable number of endocannabinoids have been discovered, among which the most widely studied are Anandamide, which was discovered in 1992 by Czech analytical chemist Lumír Hanuš and 2AG. A set of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids is called the endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in neurophysiological processes within our bodies, with one sole goal – homeostasis – a physiological process involving the whole body (tissue and cells) in order to maintain its balance, which is a condition for maintaining life. This is why we need to be careful and avoid consuming silver, some medicines (morphine, ibuprofen, ketamine,…), silicon and sulfur dioxide, BPA,…as this can lead to a clinical cannabinoid deprivation. The consequences of cannabinoid deficiency (migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.) can be avoided by exercising, yoga, meditation, massages, organic nutrition, …, as this contributes to endocannabinoid production.
Anandamide was the first discovered endocannabinoid. Its name originates from liturgical Hindi language (Sanskrit), which in translation means bliss, joy. Its discovery is considered very important for understanding the interactions between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.
Anandamide is formed from lipids in cell membranes, which can be found throughout the whole body. The formation of Anandamide stimulates simultaneous changes in the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord (primarily by binding to the CB1 receptor) and the immune system (CB2 receptor). Its effect was also percieved on TRPV1, PPARα, PPARγ and GPR55 receptors. Anandamide has the ability to alleviate cough, schizophrenia, fight against cancer and increase the sense of well-being. Its content can be increased by cardiovascular exercises, by eating chocolate or consuming CBD products.
2AG, like Anandamide, is derived from lipids in cell membranes and has an effect on CB1, CB2, TRPV1, and GPR55 receptors. 2AG can be detected in the central nervous system in large amount and in brain and breast milk in smaller amounts. 2AG is the most common endocannabinoid in our bodies and plays an important role in stimulating appetite, relieving pain, controlling vomiting and preventing tumours.
Less known endocannabinoids
- Hemopressin (recently discovered peptide endocannabinoid, which has an inverse effect of THC on the CB1 receptors, relieves pain, suppresses appetite and can help alleviate the symptoms of demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis)
- PALDA (has a mild effect on the CB1 receptor)
- DHEA (is synthesized from docosahexaenoic acid – omega 3 fatty acid found in the brain)
- OLDA (has a strong effect on the TRPV1 receptor, milder on CB1 and GPR119 and has the ability to control pain)
- STEARDA (has similar properties as PALDA and it has mild effect on CB1 receptor)
- VDHP (recently discovered endocannabinoid, which binds to CB1 receptors, relieves pain and lowers arterial blood pressure)
- PEA (binds to PPARα, GPR119 and GPR55 receptors)
- OEA (binds to PPARα, GPR119 and GPR55 receptors)
- 2AGE/NOLADIN (binds to CB1, CB2, GPR55, PPARα and TRPV1 receptors)
- 2OG (binds to GPR119 receptors)
Synthetic cannabinoids are laboratory-produced chemical compounds that bind to the same receptors as phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Initially, they were designed to investigate the effect of cannabinoids (primarily THC) on our endocannabinoid system, mainly due to the difficulty of acquiring phytocannabinoids in a legal way. Since the production and availability of synthetic cannabinoids is very cheap and quick, they were soon misused for the purpose of getting “high”. Due to a lack of studies (about synthetic cannabinoids and their effects on humans, no formal research has been carried out so far) their therapeutic potential is still unknown. However, it is known that synthetic cannabinoids can be dangerous to humans because their use has caused numerous deaths.
List of synthetic cannabinoids
There are more than 120 known chemical variants of synthetic cannabinoids, the active ingredient in synthetic marijuana, Spice and K2.
- SR 144528
Over the years, the understanding of synthetic cannabinoids has increased as there is increasing numbers of studies on laboratory mice, but this does not mean that they have the same effect on the human body as well.
When talking about the use of natural hemp products, we usually do not consume only one cannabinoid, but a whole range of cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and other biologically active molecules. With this, we achieve the synergistic effect of natural chemical compounds, which gives us huge therapeutic potential. Considering the role of the endocannabinoid system in our bodies, the multifaceted action of the natural form is a great advantage. If you are not completely sure about the content of cannabinoids and other substances in your cannabis products, you can check them with cannabinoid analysis and discover their benefits.
Author: L. O.