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Everyone knows about the stars of the cannabis world—THC and CBD. However, there are at least 113 cannabinoids that have been discovered so far.
Scientists are still finding a plethora of compounds in cannabis and connecting them to their medical benefits. A few that have piqued the medical community's interest worldwide are delta-8 THC, CBG, and CBC.
What are these cannabinoids, what effects do they have, and how are they different from other common cannabinoids? Continue reading below as we take a deep dive into how these lesser-known compounds can benefit you.
The regular THC that we all know and love is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Delta-8 THC is almost exactly like regular delta-9 THC but with an atomic difference.
Without getting too much into organic chemistry, the only distinction between the two is a double carbon bond in a different location. In delta-8 THC, there's a double bond on the 8th carbon, while it's on the 9th carbon in regular THC—hence, delta-9 THC.
That tiny double bond shift makes a huge difference in experience. Delta-8 THC is much less psychoactive than delta-9, making it a sort of lighter version of regular THC.
Delta-8 THC still possesses all of the fantastic qualities of regular delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC also provides relaxation, focus, anxiety relief, nausea relief, neuroprotection, appetite stimulation, and decreased pain.
What you don't get is an intensely psychoactive experience that's common with delta-9 THC. Most of us likely have had an incident where a high quickly became uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing.
That happens because regular delta-9 THC possesses anti-anxiety properties at lower doses, but triggers anxiety at higher doses. Regulating the perfect THC intake can sometimes be difficult, depending on the strain and the method you use to consume.
Delta-8 THC doesn't have this problem because it isn't nearly as psychoactive as delta-9. That makes it perfect for people who take THC for anxiety control, or people who need to use THC daily for a medical reason.
The only problem with Delta-8 THC is that it can be a bit pricey. Delta-8 THC isn't found in abundance in cannabis, so it needs to be extracted and refined or converted.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is known as the first cannabinoid. That's not because it was the first cannabinoid discovered, but because it's the cannabinoid that all others are derived from.
When a marijuana plant is growing, the acidic form of CBG (CBGA), is the first acid found on the plant. As the plant matures, enzymes convert the CBGA into CBDA, THCA, CBCA THCVA, and more.
Cannabinoids exist on a cannabis plant in their acidic form until they become decarboxylated. Either through heat exposure or UV light will the acidic cannabinoids turn into usable THC, CBD, CBC, and so on.
By the time a plant is harvested, most of the CBG is converted into all the other cannabinoids. However, a little bit remains and is found in small concentrations of less than 1%.
Researchers have become interested in this cannabinoid because it has non-psychoactive effects, like CBD. So far, researchers have found CBG to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-anxiety, and muscle relaxant properties.
One of the reasons that CBG has so many beneficial properties is that it binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors. Only recently has CBG become a focus for researchers, so there's still a lot that can be learned about it.
Due to the small concentration of CBG found in most mature cannabis, growers have been attempting to breed a high CBG strain. However, the most reliable way to get a lot of CBG is to purify or extract it from an ample amount of cannabis.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is another primary cannabinoid, and it also originates from CBG. Just like CBG, CBC doesn't have any known psychoactive properties.
Unlike CBG, CBC doesn't bind well to cannabinoid receptors. However, it does bind to anti-inflammatory ion channels called TRPV1 and TRPA1.
When CBC binds to these channels, the body releases natural endocannabinoids like anandamide, also known as AEA. AEA is an essential natural neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, pain, appetite, and sleep.
On top of releasing more AEA, CBC also stops AEA from being destroyed, keeping it in the system longer.
This is because AEA is a potent anti-cancer compound. That means if CBC releases more AEA, it can help stop tumor growth.
Research has also shown that CBC helps reduce pain and inflammation, most likely through increasing AEA levels.
CBC may also possess neuroprotective effects. The presence of CBC helps protect specific brain cells that help the neurons resist inflammation and oxidative stress.
By helping neurons resist stressors, it might prevent inflammatory brain illnesses like Alzheimer's disease.
CBC also takes advantage of the entourage effect. Studies show that CBC works together with THC and CBD to produce antidepressant effects.
CBC occurs in cannabis in a concentration of less than 0.5% on average, so there has also been an interest in breeding high CBC strains.
As with the other minor cannabinoids, the only way to currently get a lot is to pay a premium for a CBC extract.
An Ecosystem of Cannabinoids
The most exciting thing about cannabis is that there's still so much left to discover. So much focus has been put on THC and CBD, when there's an entire ecosystem of cannabinoids!
Each cannabinoid has unique effects, which all work together to create the feelings we love and the medicine we need.
As research continues, the possibility of finding combinations of cannabinoids with unique therapeutic properties increases. Relaxed cannabis laws could also put the process into overdrive and make expensive extracts much cheaper.
Hopefully, one day people worldwide will benefit from the discoveries that are happening right now.