When I was in my freshman year at college, I smoked my first marijuana cigarette or joint. Back then, there was no question of the illegality of smoking marijuana. The numerous health benefits and effects had not yet come into the mainstream. Back then it was just something for college kids to while away boredom along with Frontier online deals for students. Today, the world has reexamined much of the science behind cannabis and cannabinoids. To the point where their many health benefits are universally accepted.
6 Cannabinoids and their Benefits
Cannabinoids affect the endocannabinoid system in the body. What is this system? It is a natural system within the human body that regulates mood, appetite, and memory among other psychological signals. When you smoke or ingest cannabis, cannabinoids latch on to the endocannabinoid receptors in this system. Scientists believe there are more than 80 naturally occurring cannabinoids. Here are the most common ones:
list of cannabinoids
Let’s look at each cannabinoid one by one and review their medical benefits.
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the most found compound in cannabis. It is also what makes cannabis what it is, the characteristic high and relaxing effects. THC has two major health benefits. First, it acts as a mild painkiller. It is something of an agonist on the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. Second, it has an antioxidant effect on cellular activity in the body. THC is also known to help combat paranoia and anxiety as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid or THCA is abundant in raw cannabis. At high temperatures, it converts to delta-9-THC. This is what happens when you burn, vape, or eat marijuana. THCA holds a large amount of COX-1 and 2 inhibitors. These give THCA anti-inflammatory properties which are especially beneficial to arthritis patients. THCA’s anti-inflammatory properties also work well in the treatment of lupus, menstrual cramps, back pain, and certain auto-immune diseases.
Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the most promising compounds in medical research. In treatments, it is used with a specific ratio of THC. CBD is an antagonist for CB 1 and 2 receptors, but it does not have a high binding affinity. CBD is an anti-inflammatory and prevents the overproduction of sebum. CBD is also instrumental in treating depression and anxiety as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs with harmful side effects.
Cannabidiolic Acid or CBDA is the main ingredient in high-CBD cannabis. Like THCA, it is a potent anti-inflammatory. This is because CBDA selectively inhibits COX-2. This is also why cannabis has so many anti-inflammatory properties. CBDA also helps alleviate nausea symptoms associated with other medical treatments.
CBG or Cannabigerol is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. It has several anti-bacterial properties that make it noteworthy. It is a potent anti-inflammatory compound as well as slowing and killing bacterial growth. It also inhibits cancer cell/tumor growth and promotes bone strength. CBG is an antagonist for CB-1 receptors but has a low binding affinity. Its effects on CB-2 receptors are still under research. CBG has also been used as an appetite stimulant in lab tests. It may be able to combat muscle wasting and weight loss seen in late-stage cancer patients.
CBN or Cannabinol is a compound that is the result of the degradation of THC in cannabis. It is mildly psychoactive and is usually not found in fresh plants. As THC degrades into CBN, it creates a mild sedative effect. This is helpful for people with anxiety or nausea. CBN is a weak agonist with a greater affinity for CB2 receptors. CBN is the substance responsible for “couch-lock” which causes the user to remain seated in a haze for extended periods.
Cannabis is a complex plant with a large number of cannabinoids with varying effects. Depending on the concentration of these compounds in the cannabis consumed, you see different outcomes. Cannabis is already promising in the treatment of a variety of conditions like:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal cord disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Sure there are still people who will wear out their Frontier TV packages as they get in a couch-lock. But there are also people with serious illnesses who rely on the medical properties of cannabis for relief. As science progresses, more treatments may find themselves replaced by specific cannabinoids. It’s all a question of alleviating suffering and improving the overall quality of life. Bear in mind that abusing cannabis also has harmful side effects. Frequent use can impair your short-term memory and cognitive ability. Smoking cannabis can harm your lungs and even lead to lung disease. Using cannabis also carries the risk of addiction or substance abuse. Recreational use is all very well, but if you’re using cannabis regularly for a medical condition then you need to be wary. Only use it under prescription and resist the temptation to keep using it once you don’t need it.