A World of Cannabinoids; Not just CBD and THC
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The year 1912 marked one of the most iconic historical landmarks– the Titanic, a state-of-the-art cruise liner, Found itself 12,500 feet beneath water level, on the ocean bed.
What most people don’t know is that the berg scraped along the starboard, or right side of the hull, below the waterline. With no fancy modern instruments to give a “heads-up”, this impact came as a total surprise.
In fact, on average, about 90% of an iceberg is below the waterline (some smart numbers and physics people calculated it). So just looking at what’s above the waterline is not revealing the entire picture; it is hard to tell what’s hiding beneath. There is much more than meets the eye.
But how is all this connected to our world? Well, simply put – CBD.
I’ve already discussed in previous blogposts the fact that CBD, along with THC, is among the most abundant cannabinoids in the hemp plant. But just like an iceberg, CBD is, in a way, only what we see or rather have the most knowledge about of the entire plant. Yes, it’s just the “tip of the iceberg”. Beneath the surface there is so much more, more specifically, over 480 different compounds, of which over 140 are termed cannabinoids.
Hold your breath. Diving Deep Beneath the Surface
So Initially there’s a hemp seed that is planted. The seed itself has mere traces (if any) of cannabinoids. And BTW, that’s why you can find hemp seeds and hempseed oil in any supermarket. But, once the seed sprouts, magic is starting to form - Cannabigerols or simply, CBG is created. It’s essentially the mother or father of all cannabinoids.
CBG and some other interesting cannabinoids that have the potential to make an impact on people’s lives.
As mentioned, consider CBG as the parent molecule from which all other cannabinoids are synthesized. During plant growth most of the CBG is converted into other cannabinoids, leaving roughly only 1% of CBG in the mature plant.
CBG, like CBD (and unlike THC), won’t give you any of the “high” effect. Sorry to disappoint you. But you know how orange is the new black and 50 is the new 40… some see CBG as the new CBD. In fact, a lot of research is happening nowadays around the therapeutic qualities of CBG. However, since CBG is so scares, its price definitely reflects that. As a benchmark, a kilo if gold is traded at around $55K whereas a kilo of CBG can go for as high as $50K. Not so shabby aye?
Interestingly enough, even the US government is also curious about this cannabinoid. In 2018, The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) announced plans to research lesser known cannabinoids such as CBG for pain management.
Like CBD and other cannabinoids, CBG interacts with chemical receptors in the body, which make up the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The two primary receptors are called CB1 and CB2, which are found in nearly every system of the human body.
- CB1 receptors are primarily in the brain and nervous system
- CB2 receptors are more prevalent in the immune system.
CBG interacts with these receptors to help regulate a variety of functions including pain, appetite, hormones, inflammation, and blood pressure. This process is what defines CBG’s ability to promote healing.
There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done into CBG but here are a few benefits CBG has shown:
Cannabis is popular for its pain relief properties and some studies claim that as much as 10% of cannabis users use it for chronic pain. Pain relief is often attributed to THC and CBD, however, early studies indicate that CBG can be even more effective in managing pain than THC and CBD.
Scientists believe that CBG may help with inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One study on the effect of CBG on IBD involved inducing colitis in mice and looking at inflammatory markers. The findings showed that CBG did relive the inflammation levels. Did anyone say Rheumatoid Arthritis?
CBG’s anti inflammatory qualities may also have a role as a neuroprotectant. This is since inflammation in the brain can cause neurodegeneration. In studies conducted, once again, on mice, CBG showed to reduce inflammation and serve as a neuroprotectant against degeneration of the brain.
In other cases, CBG even showed to promote neurogenesis, that’s the growth of new brain cells.
CBG may help by blocking the receptors that cause cancer cells to grow. In one study on mice with colorectal cancer cells, CBG was able to inhibit the growth of the cancerous cells, slowing down the progression of the disease.
In addition, some studies in labs have shown CBG inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells.
CBG has also shown potential an anti-bacterial agent particularly against bacterial strains like MRSA, which are resistant to the usual antibiotic drugs. In fact, CBG’s ability to fight against a particular class of bacteria, mycobacteria, and fungi called ‘gram-positive bacteria’ is superior to that of THC, CBD, or CBC.
Perhaps in the future, these properties can be harnessed to create a new anti-bacterial treatment.
There are some other potential benefits in CBG, but there’s still a lot of research that has to take place to understand the full potential of this molecule.
Next is Cannabichromenes, or simply CBC. CBC seem to possess similar medicinal potential like that of CBG and CBD and, just like CBG, is rare in the plant, hence, extremely costly to produce and utilize.
CBC is non-intoxicating so it will not get you high, and the reason is due to the fact that that it binds poorly to the CB1 receptor in the brain. However, CBC was found to bind with other receptors in the body, which are linked to pain perception.
There is enormous potential here but, still, much research needs to be done before any conclusions can go public.
As with other cannabinoids, while CBC has its own potential benefits, it seems to work synergistic with other cannabinoids to create, what’s known as, the entourage effect.
CBC is actually a prominent cannabinoid in medical research and may offer potency as a cancer fighter due to its natural interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
A 2014 literature review published in the journal Oncotarget concluded that cannabinoids such as CBC “exert a direct anti-proliferative effect on tumors of different origin.”
CBC in a cream form also showed to be effective in treating acne, according to a 2016 study published in Experimental Dermatology. Once again, the anti-inflammatory qualities of cannabichromene may offer hope, this time by soothing the sebaceous glands of the skin that may secrete excessive oil, thus leading to acne.
Cannabinol, or simply CBN. This one is somewhat of an outlier. While all cannabinoids are formed actively from CBG during the Hemp plant’s maturing process, CBN is an exception.
CBN is mostly found in aged Cannabis and is created when THC is oxidized (exposed to oxygen over time). Yes, in other words, CBN used to be THC. Since CBN is created when THC ages, some would say degrades, it’s usually present in high amounts in older cannabis.
While THC (that stuff that gets you high) binds with CB1 and CB2, CBN is thought to primarily bind with the CB2 receptor. Furthermore, CBN acts as an agonist to the TRPV2 receptor, a naturally producing protein that regulates several biological systems in the human body.
So, what is CBN good for? Well, as usual, there’s not enough research out there, however, preliminary research shows its potential as an antibacterial substance, neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory and as an appetite stimulant.
One of the least studied phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant. Until now, no biomedical research has taken place with respect to CBL (cannabicyclol) or its medical applications. Rather, scientists have simply identified CBL as a constituent of the cannabis plant and its biosynthesis, but have not studied the ways in which it affects humans. CBL is not considered to have psychoactive potential, and it is not yet known if it has affinity with the cannabinoid receptors.
CBL has been found in an ancient sample of cannabis discovered in a Chinese tomb and dated to approximately 2700 BCE. In this sample, CBN and CBL were respectively the two largest fractions. CBD levels were much lower, and THC was undetectable (although the presence of CBN and other metabolites indicates it was once high in THC).
Last, but not least, there are some other cannabinoids like Cannabinodiol (CBDL), cannabielsoin (CBE), Cannabitriol (CBT) but with so little knowledge about the benefits they offer, let alone scientific supporting facts, anything more I say about those will dis-serve their reputation. There’s still so much to be discovered here…
But the bottom line here is that there is still so much to research and learn about the Cannabis plant and researchers are working night and day to unveil all that unknown in favor of benefiting mankind.