There exists a plant so mystifying, so complex, and so mysterious that all of humankind has bowed in awe at its altar since the beginning of human civilization itself. Yup, you guessed it— kumquats.
But there is another plant that is equally stupefying, if not even more intriguing and exciting. That’s right— Eastern Skunk Cabbage.
But we’re not here to talk about either of those plants. We’re here to talk about cannabis.
Cannabis is a very complicated plant. You’ve heard about THC, and you’ve heard about CBD. You know that THC makes you high, and CBD makes your back not hurt. For a while, that was all you needed to know.
But as has been the case throughout human history, science is constantly learning more things. And the more things science knows, the more things you need to know.
Cannabis has a reputation of being a miracle plant for good reason. There is a vast galaxy of untapped potential hidden inside this plant that has the potential to change life as we know it. That is not a hyperbolic joke, it's true.
You may have started to see some different letters floating around. More and more cannabinoids are rising to the forefront of the consumer market. Soon, CBD and THC will be just one of many. So it's important to understand what exactly they are, what they do, how they fit in with the others, and what the hell is going on in general.
WHAT ARE CANNABINOIDS?
The main thing you need to know about cannabinoids is that there is a lot.
Our body is filled with cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors do everything. They effect your mood, pain sensations, appetite, memory, and more.
Normally, these things called endocannabinoids are supposed to go in there. That’s what God intended.
But cannabis, the old trickster, creates cannabinoids. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD pretend to be endocannabinoids. They bind to the cannabinoid receptors instead, and they throw a big fat fun fest.
This is why when you smoke marijuana, you get high. Cannabinoids like THC have binded to your endocannabinoid receptors, and they get groovin’.
Same with CBD— that gets all up in there, and it does CBD stuff.
THC and CBD have had the best publicist, but they’re far from being the only active cannabinoids that interact with your nervous system. We don’t really know how many there are. It could be anywhere from 12 to 100. Again, that is not a hyperbolic joke, that’s the actual figure.
You may have heard the term “the entourage effect.” This term describes the much sought after effect of the entire concerto of cannabinoids performing a symphony with your receptors. Many report enjoying the full spectrum of cannabinoids is far superior to something like CBD isolate, where literally the only cannabinoid you are getting is CBD.
As science has progressed with technology, we’ve been able to start isolating different cannabinoids in the spectrum and exploring what they actually do. Well, we haven’t, per say— I was probably watching Cash Cab when they did that. But other smarter people have.
And this has led to more and more cannabinoids being isolated and focused on. It can all get a bit confusing, so we’re going to try our best.
CBG is the precursor to THC and CBD. What that means is that when the CBG in a cannabis plant is exposed to ultraviolet light or heat, it eventually becomes either THCA or CBDA, which then becomes THC or CBD.
Most cannabis strains contain less that 1% THC, because most of the CBG became something else.
To extract high levels of CBG from cannabis, you simply need to do so earlier than you would to get THC or CBD. This is about 6 weeks into the 8 week flowering cycle, compared to the full 8 weeks you would normally wait.
So what’s the difference between CBD and CBG?
CBD, for the most part, does not directly interact with cannabinoid receptors. CBG on the hand, does, just like THC. CBG does not produce any psychoactive effects, and can actually act as a buffer for those produced by THC— i.e. reducing paranoia and anxiety.
We don’t know nearly as much about CBG as we do about CBD and THC, but early studies have linked it to impressive potential therapeutic uses, like:
- Decreasing inflammation
- Killing drug-resistant bacteria
- Inhibiting tumor growth
- Treating glaucoma
- Combatting Huntingdon’s disease
What we do know about CBG is that it is one of the most expensive cannabinoids to produce, being dubbed the “Rolls-Royce of cannabinoids.” And the reason for this is simply because there isn’t that much.
As aforementioned, most strains only contain under 1%. So you need an immense amount of plant matter for a worthwhile yield.
But from a consumer perspective, CBG is by no means unaffordable. CBG is on the up and up, so many products have started utilizing it in their formulations— often containing a blend of CBD and CBG in varying ratios.
TL;DR - CBG is non-psychoactive, interacts directly with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, can reduce paranoia and anxiety, is scarce, and has hugely promising therapeutic benefits.
THC DELTA 8
THC Delta 8 (or Delta 8 THC, depending on your stylization preferences) may sound like a planet in deep space or a military operation to torpedo a hospital in Syria, but it is actually a very interesting and nuanced cannabinoid.
The “THC” in cannabis that everybody loves so darn much is actually Delta 9 THC. Delta 8 THC is a different, separate thing. Yes, there are 7 more. But we gotta take it easy here, or I am going to have a panic attack.
Many people refer to CBD in jest as “diet weed,” but I would argue this epithet would be more apropos to Delta 8 THC.
If you’ve tried CBD before and thought, “Am I supposed to feel something? Nothing is happening, I was ripped off by a snake oil salesman, George Bush did 9/11,” et al— Delta 8 THC is for you.
If you love the therapeutic effects of weed, but find the psychoactive component too overwhelming, Delta 8 THC is also for you.
Delta 8 molecular similarities to Delta 9 are such that it allows the user to experience the therapeutic effects without dealing with the obtrusive psychoactive side effects— such as paranoia, anxiety, and generally being a crazy person.
It has been highlighted as especially effective for eliminating nausea, stimulating appetite, and killing cancer cells.
This makes Delta 8 hugely advantageous as a cancer treatment, as the lack of psychoactive side effects give it a broader mass appeal than typical cannabis— which can be off-putting to those overwhelmed by the feeling of being “high.”
TL;DR — THC Delta 8 is a sibling of THC Delta 9, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. You can think of it as something of a “half and half” between CBD and THC, providing a body high and therapeutic effects without the intense psychoactive component leading to paranoia and wackiness.
CBC, or the Canadian Broadcasting Company, has had a sordid past— and I consider them directly responsible for my father’s death. But today, we’re talking about a different CBC.
CBC is similar to CBD in that it does not bind directly to the cannabinoid receptors (unlike CBG and THC Delta 8). But it does bind to receptors linked to pain perception, making it an effective painkiller.
In addition to pain, CBC has been found to be a particularly effective at reducing inflammation and tumor growth.
And teens, if you ever get caught with pot, just say you’re using CBC as an anti-acne treatment— because it’s very good at that, too.
You may be wondering why CBC sounds exactly the same as other cannabinoids— or perhaps you have even fallen asleep or clicked on a different, much more interesting article from Leafly about something else. And I understand, because the truth is, CBC works best in tandem with other cannabinoids.
It’s a great example of the entourage affect, because many positive benefits other cannabinoids can yield are significantly boosted by CBC.
TL;DR — CBC is a team player, working best with other cannabinoids.
Oh man. How many of these damn things are there?
If you are getting fatigued of cannabinoids, get over it. Because CBN deserves your attention.
In 1896, a couple of scientists decided they wanted to take a break from powdering their wigs and shitting in a bucket to isolate the first ever cannabinoid in its pure form. That cannabinoid was CBN.
Initially, they believed CBN was the part of cannabis that made you high. Not surprising, given their Tylenol was heroin. But, eventually, they realized that they were idiots.
Not huge idiots, though, because it’s easy to see why CBN could be confusing to somebody in 1896. THC, when exposed to heat and light, slowly turns into CBN. This means that older cannabis has higher concentrations of CBN, especially if it hasn’t been refrigerated or hidden from light.
Probably the most famous attribute of CBN is its reputation as a sedating sleep aid. However, this has since been proven to be misleading, as it is more likely a result of the entourage effect when combined with THC.
If you want to give CBN a try, you can either buy an isolate, or you can simply leave your weed out in the open. Assuming your mom/landlord/uptight girlfriend/uptight boyfriend/uptight partner/UPS guy doesn’t find it and rip you a new asshole, the THC will slowly be converted into CBN through the oxidation process.
TL;DR — CBN, the first cannabinoid to ever be isolated in the 1800s, forms as cannabis becomes stale and the THC is oxidized.
Alright. I think this is the last one. Home stretch, guys.
To dive into THCA, first we have dive back into CBG. Remember how I said CBG is converted into THCA, which then becomes THC? Well, I said that.
Think of it like a family tree. CBG is the grandpa. He gives birth to siblings THCA and CBDA, who then… uh, well I guess they have an incestuous relationship leading to the birth of their children, THC and CBD.
Since THCA is destroyed with heat, you’ve probably never gotten any from just smoking cannabis. In fact, you probably haven’t gotten much from regular cannabis at all.
If you want THCA, you’ve got to hit it raw. Raw cannabis, that is. Because THCA is the precursor to THC before decarboxylation, the highest concentrations of it occur in raw cannabis.
Raw cannabis can be eaten, or it can be juiced into what is essentially a weed smoothie. But raw cannabis won’t get you high. Instead of being advantageous as medicinal therapy for ailments that are already there, raw cannabis helps prevent them from arising to begin with. For this reason, it has been called “the most important vegetable on the planet.” Corn would like a word, but alas, Smoke Cartel is not the arbiter of vegetables.
Raw cannabis can assist with immune system function, anti-inflammatory benefits, bone metabolism, neural function, and more. Unfortunately, it tastes like ass. So if you’re going to juice cannabis, a common recommendation is making a cocktail of 9 parts carrot juice and 1 part cannabis juice.
Like many other of these obscure cannabinoids, isolates require a little bit of hunting to find.
But they are out there. And you can bet you'll be seeing a lot more hitting the market soon. We would know.
TL;DR — THCA can be found bountifully in raw cannabis, and thus is beneficial for supporting a range of health benefits that work to prevent the ailments that other cannabinoids can treat before they occur in the first place.
END OF THE ARTICLE
There are a lot of cannabinoids. A lot. So many, that we don’t even really know how many.
But we will. And as we discover more and more about the miraculous, mystifying, complex, and rich plant that is cannabis, we open new doors with endless possibilities. It is impossible to overstate its potential.
The cannabinoids highlighted here are just a few flakes of snow from the immense iceberg hidden below the surface of our knowledge. But it’s very likely you’ll begin to see these guys more and more, if you haven’t already.
Keep your eyes peeled for cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC, THC DELTA 8, THCA, and God knows what else. They might just be the missing piece of your puzzle. And this is just the beginning.