Cannabinoids exist in two varieties: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. Both of which act as neurotransmitters sending signals between various parts of the ECS via cannabinoid receptors. You can learn more about the ECS and these receptors in our last installment on the Endocannabinoid System. In this article, we will take a closer look at both forms of endocannabinoids and some of the most common phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.
Endocannabinoids are produced by the body and are a natural part of the ECS. There are two types of endocannabinoids produced by the body known as Anandamide and Arachidonoyl Ethylamide or 2-AG for short. Let’s take a closer look.
N-Arachidonylethanolamide, also known as Anandamide or simply AEA, is a naturally produced endogenous cannabinoid responsible for maintaining homeostasis within the body. The word Anandamide originates from the Sanskrit word Ananda. Ananda translates to joy or bliss and references the cannabinoid’s abilities to enhance the mood. For this reason, this endocannabinoid is commonly referred to as the bliss molecule.
This endocannabinoid was first isolated and discovered in 1992 by researchers Lumir Hanus, Raphael Mechoulam, and Bill Devane at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The discovery which occurred in pig brains led the researchers to believe that it “may function as a natural ligand for the cannabinoid receptor,” meaning it may activate the functions of cannabinoid receptors.
As for what functions these are exactly, research has answers. Since its discovery, hundreds of research papers have been published attesting to the many functions that Anandamide relates to within our anatomy. A 2017 study published in the “Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience” journal concluded that this endocannabinoid definitively offers a multifaceted ability to make an impact on virtually every system in the human anatomy, including playing key biological roles in both the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Some of the key findings from research related to Anandamide have found that it affects everything from gut health to our ability to manage stress and how we respond to fear-related triggers. However, one of the most talked-about aspects of Anandamide is its relation to reward processes in the brain and its involvement in allowing us to feel pleasure, hence the name bliss molecule!
If you would like to learn more, this article does a great job breaking down many of the key findings related to this endocannabinoid.
2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG for short, is the lesser-known endocannabinoid despite being much more prevalent within the brain than Anandamide. The discovery of 2-AG dates back to 1995 when researchers Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Ben-Shabat first isolated it from canine intestines. Their research also led to the discovery that 2-AG results in THC-like properties in mice. Like Anandamide, the research surrounding 2-AG and its function within our anatomy is abundant.
So far, researchers have linked 2-AG to playing a vital role in regulating several key processes, including pain sensation, mediating inflammation, appetite regulation, and moderating our moods. This endocannabinoid can also affect anxiety, depression, and addiction. To learn more about this endocannabinoid and its role in various processes within our bodies, check out the in-depth article found here.
Now that you know more about the two endocannabinoids produced naturally by our bodies let’s take a closer look at the other type of cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids.
Phytocannabinoids originate from the cannabis plant species. There are more than 100 known phytocannabinoids that exist within the various forms and cultivars of cannabis. Some of the ones you may have heard of include THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN.
As cannabis matures throughout its growth cycle, cannabinoid lines evolve. During the beginning stages, cannabinoids are actually cannabinoid acids and start as either CBGa or CBGVa, before evolving into one of the following.
- CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
- THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
- CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)
- CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
- THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
- CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid)
- CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid)
Each of these cannabinoid acids offers potentially beneficial properties. Let’s explore!
CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
CBGA is known as the mother of all cannabinoids! This is because CBGA is the definitive precursor to all known cannabinoid lines. This includes CBG, which is found in the Potency Gold Serum, as well as CBD, which is found in many other Potency products such as the Gold Serum, Modern Mist, CBD bath bricks, and Future Face activated charcoal CBD face mask!
CBGA research has shown that it may play a vital role in addressing issues such as neuroinflammation, IBD, cancer, metabolic disorders, and diabetes. Unfortunately, this cannabinoid acid is typically not found in prevalence within many cannabinoid-based products or even freshly harvested cannabis due to the degradation that happens during the growth process of the plant. In order to obtain CBGA, one would have to harvest cannabis or hemp plants extremely early before degradation occurs.
THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THCA for short is the precursor to one of the most infamous cannabinoid lines, THC. THCA is prevalent in fresh and dried cannabis flowers. However, its prevalence can quickly decrease as degradation occurs swiftly when this acidic cannabinoid is exposed to UV light, heat, or oxygen.
So far, research surrounding THCA suggests that it has a small but measurable binding affinity to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Thus far, THCA has been shown to offer anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antiemetic, and antineoplastic properties.
Unlike THC, the non-acidic form of this cannabinoid, THCa does not produce intoxicating effects despite the belief that THCA content within fresh plant material could represent 90% of the THC content that will become available after decarboxylation, a process we will discuss below. THCA is most commonly utilized through the juicing of raw cannabis buds and leaves.
CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
Cannabidiolic acid or CBDA for short is the precursor to one of the most widely available cannabinoid lines in products today, being CBD. CBDA, like THCA, degrades with exposure to UV light, heat, and oxygen. Thus far, preliminary research regarding CBDA suggests that it offers anti-tumor and antiemetic properties. Thanks to a focus on cultivating CBD-rich cultivars, CBDA is widely available in harvested medicinal and industrial cannabis strains that have not undergone the process of decarboxylation.
CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)
CBCA, which is derived from CBGA, converts into the active cannabinoid line known as CBC after decarboxylation. Unfortunately, CBCA is not widely researched. However, in a study published in 2017 titled Cannabis Pharmacology: The Usual Suspects and a Few Promising Leads, it was suggested that it might exert a few useful therapeutic properties. Research has concluded that CBCA does not have a strong binding affinity with CB1 receptors within the endocannabinoid system; however, it can work with the CB2 receptor and interact with the ECS through other channels.
Varin Acid Cannabinoid Lines
In addition to cannabinoid acids, there are also Varin cannabinoid lines that have their acidic version as well. These include the following.
- CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
- THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
- CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid)
- CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid)
Each of these is the precursor to their respective Varin cannabinoid lines being CBGV, THCV, CBDV, and CBCV. Unfortunately, not much research is available surrounding the acid form of these Varin cannabinoid lines. The Varin cannabinoid lines themselves, however, do offer many potential therapeutic properties which we will explore below that would not be possible had their acidic forms not been created prior.
The cannabinoid acids we have reviewed are found only within cannabis and cannabis-derived products that have not undergone a process known as decarboxylation. Once this process occurs, the acid forms of these cannabinoid lines are no more. Let’s take a closer look at what decarboxylation is.
Decarboxylation can best be summed up as the process in which cannabinoid acid lines are activated and transformed into their respective cannabinoid lines. This process occurs after harvest and happens when dried cannabis material such as buds or leaves are exposed to heat. During decarboxylation, the acidic molecule of cannabinoids is removed. To learn more about decarboxylation, check out this article! To decarb with ease and precision, check out the Ardent Nova or Ardent FX for even more capacity!
Post Decarboxylation Phytocannabinoids
After decarboxylation occurs, the acidic cannabinoid lines evolve once more into the following or one of many other less prevalent cannabinoids.
- CBG (Cannabigerol)
- THC (Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBD (Cannabidiol)
- CBC (Cannabichromene)
- CBGV (Cannabigerivarin)
- THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
- CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
- CBCV (Cannabichromevarin)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these cannabinoids and some of the basics regarding their potential therapeutic properties, prevalence, and more.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is likely one of the most well-known phytocannabinoids. Credit for discovering this phytocannabinoid goes to Roger Adams and dates back to 1942. THC is known for its intoxicating effects and is what many people are looking for when recreationally utilizing cannabis. However, some may argue that any cannabis consumption is medicinal due to the endocannabinoid system, but that’s a different topic.
THC has a binding affinity with both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, but it is its stronger binding affinity with CB1 receptors that gives it intoxicating properties. This phytocannabinoid has been widely researched by experts around the world since its discovery and isolation. When it comes to the potential therapeutic benefits of this phytocannabinoid, it seems like the list is almost endless.
Some of the most hopeful research surrounding THC shows it being a potentially effective therapeutic aspect in the treatment of cancer and many associated symptoms, pain, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, and inflammation. There are also many research studies that suggest that it may offer potential benefits in the treatment of many mental health-related issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and others.
For many years when someone referenced THC, it was definitive that they were talking about Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. However, as research has advanced, it has come to light that there are actually several different versions of THC, including Delta-8, Hydroxy-11, and others. However, in general when someone is referencing THC, they are referring to Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
In addition, THC, when exposed to air and simply aging, results in one last evolution for this cannabinoid line into another known as Cannabinol or CBN for short. We will explore more about CBN below.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is another very well-known cannabinoid that is found in many products today, including many of those that we offer here at Potency No. 710. Unlike THC, CBD does not provide any intoxicating or psychoactive effects. In 2017 the World Health Organization deemed that CBD exhibited “no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” The organization has also recognized CBD as being a generally safe substance.
The discovery of CBD dates back to 1940, when Roger Adams successfully isolated CBD from cannabis. Later on, in 1963, Raphael Mechoulam defined the chemical structure of this phytocannabinoid. CBD, however, was first brought into the light of the masses with the story of an exceptional young woman by the name of Charlotte Fiji, which aired in a CNN special in 2013.
Her story is a true testament to what this cannabinoid has to offer. It is believed by many that it is because of Charlotte’s story that so many have access and are embracing CBD today. Although Charlotte gained her angel wings in 2020, CBD offered her a much higher quality of life for several years. Her story will forever live on and will continue to influence and help many others find their path to doing the same.
The extensive research conducted thus far surrounding CBD shows that it holds a potentially vital role in many disease processes and may be effective in treating a wide range of different ailments. These include but are not limited to the following.
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Inflammatory Diseases
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Neuropathic Pain
- Parkinson’s Diseases
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Seizure Disorders
CBD for Skin Conditions
From a skincare perspective, CBD is a powerful antioxidant, more powerful than even vitamin c or vitamin E. The antioxidant properties of CBD are so potent that there is a patent on how it may help to repair oxidative damage. Learn more about CBD as an antioxidant in our article here.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and ability to inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation make it a highly effective potential in treating conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Learn more about how CBD works with the endocannabinoid system through topical applications here. CBD may also help in treating dry skin by counteracting free radicals, improving moisture retention, and promoting oil production in the skin.
Despite being a phytocannabinoid, CBD does not directly bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors; however, through other channels and pathways, CBD indirectly affects the ECS, something that is being widely researched.
Cannabigerol, or CBG for short, is the last evolution of the CBG cannabinoid line, which we previously learned was the mother of all cannabinoids! Because of its prevalence only in prematurely harvested plants, CBG is one of the most expensive cannabinoids to access, earning it the name “The Rolls-Royce of Cannabinoids.” We previously took a deep dive into CBG in skincare products when we first introduced it to our Gold Serum, which you can check out here.
CBG was discovered by Raphael Mechoulam and Yeheil Gaoni in 1964. This cannabinoid has been researched by experts globally and found to have a wide range of potential therapeutic properties.
Thus far, research suggests that CBG offers antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antiproliferative, antidepressant, analgesic, and anti-insomnia properties. It has also been shown to be capable of treating Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. Additional studies have shown that CBG is also an appetite, brain cell, and bone stimulant.
This phytocannabinoid works with the ECS as a CB1 receptor agonist and can also interact with the system through CB2 receptors. CBG has also been shown to influence 5-HT1A receptors which are responsible for the regulation of serotonin levels and also act as an adrenoceptor agonist helping to moderate the expression of noradrenaline and adrenaline in our body’s central nervous system, both of which are vital neurotransmitters. To experience the power of CBG firsthand, check out the Potency No. 710 Gold Serum.
Cannabichromene, or CBC for short, is the most abundant non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid. In 1966 CBC was discovered by Raphael Mechoulam and Yeheil Gaoni. CBC works with the endocannabinoid system by direct activation of CB2 cannabinoid receptors. When utilized in conjunction with other phytocannabinoids, CBC can also interact with CB1 receptors but cannot activate them independently. Like CBD, CBC also works with the endocannabinoid system through indirect channels such as TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors.
Preliminary research suggests a wide range of therapeutic effects may be offered by CBC. Some of these include IBS, neuropathy, Crohn’s disease, depression, cancer, acne, as well as pain, and inflammatory-related diseases, to name a few. Additionally, in 2013 researchers discovered that CBC promoted homeostasis in the brain by positively affecting the neural stem progenitor cells, also known as NSPCs. When exposed to light or irradiation over a period of time, CBC converts to CBL, which we will discuss below.
Cannabinol, or CBN for short, is another phytocannabinoid that can be found in some varieties of cannabis. CBN is not found in high concentrations within fresh or cured cannabis. This is because it is created through the oxidization of THC, something that occurs when THC is exposed to oxygen over time. For this reason, CBN is found in the highest concentrations within cannabis that has aged and been exposed to oxygen. Some companies are looking for innovative ways to isolate this cannabinoid and provide it in higher concentration through products such as tinctures.
Thus far, the available research on CBN suggests that it may offer antibacterial, neuroprotectant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, studies have shown that it may offer potential therapeutic benefits in the treatment of glaucoma and offer the ability to stimulate the appetite.
Cannabicyclol, or CBL for short, is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid that occurs when CBC degrades through oxidation or exposure to UV light. This cannabinoid was first isolated by German scientists F. Korte and H. Sieper in 1964. In 1974, its molecular structure was ultimately defined. This phytocannabinoid which is only found in concentrations of less than a few hundredths of a percent in cured cannabis, was found to be in abundance within cannabis found in a tomb dating back some 2.700 years. It is the sheer age of this cannabis that is believed to be attributed to the higher prevalence of CBL that was present. Additionally, hashish, which tends to have a longer shelf-life and holding period after manufacture, also tends to show higher concentrations of CBL.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV for short, is a phytocannabinoid that exists only in small amounts within many cannabis strains on the market today. This phytocannabinoid was first discovered in the early 1970s. Its prevalence is mainly in actual sativa strains of cannabis and particularly within African sativas such as the landrace strains Durban Poison. Additionally, some reports note its prevalence in central Asian cultivars as well.
Strains with a high concentration of THCV often gain the title of “Diet Weed” or “Lite Cannabis” as THCV in higher concentrations suppresses the appetite rather than stimulate it as many cultivars do.
In addition to its appetite suppressing properties, this cannabinoid has also been shown to offer a wide range of other potential therapeutics, such as anti-inflammatory and bone stimulant properties. THCV may offer potential in treating diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, and other various conditions.
Cannabidivarin, or CBDV for short, is similar to CBD in molecular structure and offers no intoxicating effects when isolated. This cannabinoid, like THCV, was discovered in the 1970s. Research suggests that the highest prevalence of THCV exists within indica cultivars of cannabis that originates from Asia and Africa.
Research surrounding this phytocannabinoid has brought great hope to the therapeutic properties it may potentially hold in treating rare conditions such as Rett Syndrome and Duchenne muscular dystrophy through the reduction of inflammation. Additionally, research is being conducted looking at its efficiency in reducing some of the more prevalent issues associated with autism spectrum disorder and intractable childhood epilepsy, such as cognitive challenges, social functioning issues, and behavioral concerns.
Cannabigerivarin, or CBGV for short similar in structure to CBG; however, it offers its own unique properties. CBGV, which is derived from CBG, offers no psychoactive effects. According to some theories, this cannabinoid may offer the ability to boost the affinity of cellular receptors in the ECS so that they bind with THC molecules more readily. It is also theorized that this phytocannabinoid may boost CBD metabolism, in return increasing the potency of CBD when paired with CBGV.
Research surrounding this phytocannabinoid offers great hope in its efficiency in potentially treating a wide range of different conditions. Research has found CBGV to offer analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential option for things such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Additionally, it offers a unique characteristic that may offer potential in helping those that suffer from dry skin conditions. CBGV also shows great promise in treating cancer and related symptoms. This is especially relevant in those that are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy.
Cannabichromevarin, or CBCV for short, is derived from a combination of CBG and CBC and was first isolated in 1975 from what is believed to have been a strain originating from Thailand. Unfortunately, this cannabinoid is not found in high concentrations within any cannabis strain. It is, however, more prevalent in the strains known as 3 Kings and Jorge’s Diamond #1, according to some reports. Similarly, there is not much research surrounding this cannabinoid; however, what is available suggests that it may offer potential in the treatment of glaucoma, IBS, colon cancer, pain sensation, and epileptic conditions such as Dravet Syndrome, to name a few. Additionally, the Regents of the University of California holds a patent for an anticonvulsant drug that is formulated for infants that includes CBCV along with CBC and CBD.
As you can see, there is much potential in the therapeutic attributes offered by various cannabinoids. As we learned in the previous installment of the Potency Plant Power series covering the Endocannabinoid system, there is a theory known as the Entourage Effect that theorizes that these cannabinoids work better together. The Entourage Effect is also attributed to the presence of valuable terpenes which we will learn about in the next installment. We hope that this article helped to answer any questions you have had regarding cannabinoids.