Cannabinoids

The cannabis plant contains over 80 different cannabinoids along with many other molecules known as terpenes and flavoids. THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are the most abundant cannabinoids within the cannabis plant and the most studied.

Although THC and CBD are considered to be the cannabinoids largely responsible for effects on the human body, increasing research is being done on other cannabinoids.

It is important to review which strains a dispensary or licensed producer has available before registering, and try multiple strains or combinations for your symptoms.

Health Canada prepared the Information for Health Care Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the cannabinoids which provides an extensive overview of current evidence by symptoms and diseases in regards to cannabinoids.

Additional cannabinoids coming soon.

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Delta-9-THC
image couresy Robin Leclercq

THC is the main active ingredient in cannabis, and was initially identified as the compound for the majority of cannabis’ pharmacological activity. THC is the main cannabinoid that is pyschoactive, which is what makes individuals experience a “high” – traditionally this is what is sought out by recreational users.  Relaxation, giddiness, sleepiness, time distortion, introspective dreaminess and heightened sensations (sounds, sights, tastes and smells) are commonly experience with THC.

Properties:

  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-epileptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-spasm
  • Anti-tremor

In addition, THC also assists with:

  • Appetite stimulation
  • Bronchodilation
  • Euphoria
  • Hypotension
  • Pain relief
  • Stimulant

Chemical Structure:

THC was first isolated in 1964 by scientists Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science. It is a water-clear glassy solid when cold, which becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. THC has a very low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents, specifically lipids and alcohols.

Cannabinoid (CBD)
CBDimage courtesy Cacycle
CBD boosts immune system and has a significant role in regulating inflammatory response and the perception of pain. CBD reduces the pyschoactive effects of THC, and the decreases the negatives side effects including; increased heart rate, confusion and sleepiness.

Cannabis strains containing greater quantities of CBD are those that have at least 2% – 4% CBD.

Properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Anti-psychotic
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-pain
  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Neuroprotective

Chemical Structure:

CBD has the same chemical formula and molar mass as THC (C₂₁H₃₀O₂, 314.46 g/mol), although the molecular structure differs slightly. Like THC and most other lipids, CBD is hydrophobic and lipophilic, meaning that it does not dissolve or emulsify readily in water, but will dissolve in fat (as well as most organic solvents, such as butane and alcohol).

In acidic conditions, CBD forms a new carbon ring to become THC. In alkaline conditions (when water is present) CBD oxidises to become cannabidiol-hydroxyquinone, which is as yet poorly-studied but may exert an inhibitory effect on the hepatic (liver) enzymes that are vital in the metabolism of ingested drugs.

Cannabinol (CBN)
800px-CBN-type_cannabinoidimage courtesy cacycle

CBN is third best-known cannabinoid after THC and CBD.

Mildly psychoactive, CBN is thought to act as a weak agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. It is known to have various medical uses including as an anticonvulsant and antiemetic, and may be partly responsible for the sedative effect of some cannabis varieties. CBN is more abundant in ages cannabis and in cannabis products produced through a heating process.

Properties:

The research on cannabinol (CBN) is still lacking, but some early studies have suggested it could stimulate bone growth. If proven, it would be helpful in treating osteoporosis and assist broken bones to recover more quickly.

Additionally, it is thought that CBN is the cannabinoid responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis, and can also function as an anti-bacterial when used in topical applications.

Chemical Structure:

CBN is a product of THC degradation, and has the chemical formula C₂₁H₂₆O₂ and a molar mass of 310.43 g/mol. The unstable THC molecule, which has the formula C₂₁H₃₀O₂, loses four hydrogen atoms  to form CBN; this process is facilitated by heat and light, and does not require the action of an enzyme. As with all other cannabinoids, CBN is a hydrophobic, lipophilic molecule. As well as being soluble in fats, it also dissolves readily in solvents such as ethanol or methanol. The melting point of CBN is approximately 77°C, and the boiling point is 185°C. At room temperature, CBN is a colourless crystalline solid.

 

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