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Cannabinoids and their Multiple Medicinal Properties

The cannabis plant and phytocannabinoids

CBD Serious 6 Rosa

THC, CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG and approxiamately 80 more molecules make up the phytocannabinoids family, which are found in varying amounts, depending on environmental conditions, andt the marijuana plant. Some cannabinoids are responsible for the main effects of cannabis and others have important medicinal properties, that the scientific community continues to discover every day.

Some cannabinoids are mainly antidepressants, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti emetic, while others may even help protect the nervous system. Actually, we are just beginning to discover the potential of cannabinoids and all their possible applications, mainly in the context of some cancers, as well as other degenerative diseases.

We can classify the cannabinoids into four major groups: natural cannabinoids from plants (phytocannabinoids), natural endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids produced by the human body and securing biological functions), cannabinoids synthesis (potentially dangerous, as there is very little information on its effects), and mimetic or cannabimimetic cannabinoids (naturally occurring molecule or synthetic, replicating the action of cannabinoids on CB1 and / or CB2 receptors).

In this article, we will only discuss the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, the phytocannabinoids.

Most of the cannabinoids are present in very small amounts (less than 0.01% of total cannabinoids) are not considered psychoactive, and the effect is not significant. Indeed, many are simply homologues or analogues (similar structure or function) of some of the major known cannabinoids.

However, medical research regularly reveals new and surprising discoveries about these cannabinoids present in trace form. Unfortunately, this research and its findings are significantly hampered by the leglisation in many countries.

Different mixtures of cannabinoids and other related molecules (mainly aromatic compounds such as myrcene), largely explain the variations of effects we found between one variety of cannabis and another. The strength of the effect depends mainly on the level of THC, THC / CBD ratio and form of consumption, but this effect can also be modulated in several different ways.

The main cannabinoids of marijuana

The main cannabinoids of marijuana

Sometimes marijuana is rated more powerful than their level of THC may suggest. Currently, the exact reason is not yet known as there have been very few comparative studies with combinations of cannabinoids in humans.

It is likely that these differences in effects and power are partly caused by the interaction between THC and other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes. However in its pure form, these other cannabinoids / terpenes are only slightly or non-psychoactive, except THCV.

With so many possible combinations of different cannabinoids, some may have difficulty noticing the tiny variations in the effect of a particular strain. Moreover, even for a particular strain, each plant will have a cannabinoid profile that will be unique and may itself vary depending on certain growing conditions.

Another way to vary the effect, would be to select the temperature at which consume our marijuana. A marijuana vaporizor, or resin, will allow you to choose a precise temperature to heat your marijuana and cannabinoids as each has a different vaporization temperature, the temperature that you select will allow you to consume a unique combination of these cannabinoids.

All cannabinoids present in the plant are in their acid (2-COOH) form, such as THCA and CBDA (acid form B also exists, but in much smaller quantities than A). This acid form has a much lower potential psychoactive. These cannabinoids undergo decarboxylation during consumption (combustion, vaporization, cooking …), which transforming it into its active form (THC, CBD …) with the action of heat.

To conclude, we can say that cannabinoids are soluble in oil and organic solvents but not in water (or very little).

Trichomes collected by hand

Trichomes collected by hand

Michael Starks, in his book Marijuana Chemistry (1990) attempted to classify the different strains of landrace marijuana according to their ratio of cannabinoids, called chemotypes. Although we cannot yet explain why the original strains of temperate northern climates of the planet are often rich with CBD, while those that have been grown in warmer southern climates are generally richer in THC.

A recent explanation suggests that the amount of UV rays and high temperatures in which it is grown could favour the production of THC, while a slight difference of day / night temperature, moderate exposure to UV rays and a shorter duration of the day, would favour the CBD production.

Here are the four main chemotypes of marijuana, as defined by Michael Starks:

Plants with high levels of THC and very little CBD. These generally originate from the regions under latitude 30 ° north (passing through Morocco to Iran, India, China, Mexico and North Florida).

Plants with a reduced level of THC and high levels of CBD, are found in regions above 30 ° north latitude.

Plants with high levels of THC, and very little CBD originate in Northeast Asia. These contain low amounts of CBGM (Cannabigerol Monomethyl Ether), another little studied cannabinoid.

Plants with a lot of THC, very little CBD and of which the THC is, in reality largely present in the form of THCV. These are native to Indonesia, South Africa and Nepal.

Chemotypes of marijuana

Chemotypes of marijuana

After these brief general reminders, we will present now, one by one, the major cannabinoids that can be found in the marijuana plant:

THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, mainly responsible for the psychoactive effect

Molecule structure of THC

Molecule structure of THC

For each person, the intensity of the effect of cannabis depends mainly on the amount of THC present in marijuana and its relation to the amount of CBD. Delta-9 THC is indeed the main ingredient of marijuana and must be present in sufficient quantity to ensure a pleasant effect.

Those who smoke grass that has very little of the other cannabinoids besides THC, generally reported a very powerful stimulative effect. Most non-regular consumers begin to feel the effects of a joint when a plant matter with more than 3% of THC is being used.

Marijuana that contains 5 to 10% THC can be regarded as having relatively low power, and with a level between 10 and 15% THC it can be considered average, and between 15 and 20% THC is considered to be marijuana of a higher potency. Exceptionally, some plants can be found with levels of over 20% THC, or sometimes even more than 25%

Then it will use less plant material to get the wanted effect. Contrary to repeated regularly prohibitionists, an herb rich in THC is not more dangerous, but it is simply more economical for the consumer!

The level of THC can vary greatly from one plant to another within the same variety. The numbers announced by the breeders are not necessarily meaningful and should not be a priority criterion when choosing a variety. Overall, this is a THC level of a selected plant or an average of a number of plants. THC levels also vary according to the methodology used for the analysis, it is for this reason that it can be tricky to compare the levels of THC given by different breeders using different analysis techniques.

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active cannabinoid responsible for most of the effects experienced by a consumer of marijuana. THC causes cerebral, mental, and the famous high effects. Without THC, cannabis is not psychoactive.

Traditionally Sativa varieties have more THC than Indica varieties. The Ruderalis cannabis, used to create all strains of auto flowering, contains less than 1% THC.

Levels of THC in marijuana

Levels of THC in marijuana

THC improves sensory functions such as vision, hearing, colour sensitivity, increases sexual arousal in men and women, and also changes the perception of space / time. It produces a powerful feeling of euphoria, mental wellbeing and sharpens the mind by encouraging curiosity and creativity. THC is also known to increase appetite by interfering with leptin, responsible for the satiety hormone.

THC has an equivalent relationship with CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC mimics the action of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid produced by the human brain.

The Delta 8-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC Delta-8-, sometimes found in low amounts, less than 1% of the Delta-9 THC present. Its activity is 20 to 25% lower than the Delta-9 THC. It can be a molecule formed during the extraction process and analysis. The general term THC, thus refers at the same time to the Delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC.

We can also find in some strains of marijuana, some homologues of Delta-9 THC, with a longer carbon chain and greater activity. Some molecules with long chains produced in a laboratory being active at times they sometimes have a very high activity, with an estimate of several hundred times that of Delta-9 natural THC (such as Dimetilheptilpiran, which was tested in the 1950s by the U.S. Army as an incapacitating agent).

THC and cannabinoid receptors

THC and cannabinoid receptors

Medical uses of THC:

  • Neuroprotective: protects against neurological problems and brain degeneration linked to aging (Alzheimer …). THC also stimulates neurogenesis, ie the creation of new neurons.
  • Anxiolytic and anti-depressant: reduces anxiety symptoms, with a euphoric effect and relaxing.
  • Analgesic: reduces pain
  • Anti-inflammatory: 20 times more than aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone
  • THC has antitumor properties and antimetastatic on some cancers (leukemia, glioblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, breast cancer HER2-positive …)
  • Antispasmodic: reduces spasms and convulsions
  • Antiemetic: Reduces nausea and vomiting, such as those resulting from cancer treatment or AIDS
  • Treatment of multiple sclerosis (SEP)
  • Treatment of epilepsy: reducing seizure frequency
  • Treatment of glaucoma: reduces intraocular pressure
  • Combat Crohn’s disease
  • Bronchodilator: help asthmatics breathe
  • Anti cachexia: stimulates the appetite and encourages eating
  • Treating Sleep Apnea
  • Antioxidant fight against free radicals responsible for cell aging

THC levels that are too high can cause the following side effects: spatiotemporal disorientation, memory loss, tachycardia, nervousness, anxiety, paranoia. For this reason, people with predispositions to schizophrenia, bipolar or anxiety should avoid consuming cannabis strains with high levels of THC. These side effects are generally limited by the presence of other cannabinoids such as CBN or CBD.

How does the level of THC in marijuana increase?

As the level of THC production up to a marijuana plant is defined by their genetics, you can not increase your level beyond the breaking point, however, maximum production is rarely achieved; then it is possible to stimulate the plant to reach its optimal level of production. The goal is to increase resin production in the plant, which will increase the total amount of THC.

For that we can, for example, practice a slight water stress at the end of flowering. Dryness favours the formation of the ground resin.

Cannabinoid extraction

Cannabinoid extraction

 

As the resin is the primary means of defense of the marijuana plant, we can optimize production stimulating the systemic acquired resistance of the plant with the help of stimulating natural defenses (SDN). We can mention, for example, exogenous elicitors as laminarin, oligosaccharide famines seaweed extract (Laminaria digitata) or chitosan from crustacean shells.

There are also mimetic molecules and enhancers like phytohormones, such as Methyl jasmonate derivative Jasmine essential oil, or salicylic acid or abscisic acid. To finish we can use stimulators of vitality, such as vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and C (ascorbic acid).

Exodus Liquid THC BHO

Exodus Liquid THC BHO

Another effective way to ensure that marijuana plants have sufficient metabolic and enzymatic potential to reach the maximum level of THC, is to use, for example, the product Delta-9 Cannabiogen during cultivation.

There are also other techniques on an enviromental level, such as stimulating the THC in the trichomes with exposure to UV-B rays and heat at the end of flowering. Some specific spectra of light (660 nm) may also increase the amount of cannabinoids.

Finally, the THC varies with the maturity of the plant; harvesting when the trichomes are at their most milky, with some amber trichomes will result in the harvest richest in THC.

It is important to remember that THC can degrade quickly (CBN, we’ll see later) if it is exposed to oxygen or UV rays. THC is oxidized by the action of air, light, and by the magnetic action (such as that cuased by ZIP plastic bags).
The vaporization temperature is between 140 and 160 ° C.

The CBD, Cannabidiol, ideal for medicinal marijuana use

The Cannabidiol (CBD) is present in small amounts (<1%) in numerous strains of marijuana. However, in some rare cases, the CBD may be the dominant cannabinoid, a level of cannabinoids that can reach 15%. Among the varieties with CBD (> 4%), we can highlight, for example, Juanita from Reggae Seeds, the CBD Skunk Haze from CBD Crew, and Pennywise from TGA. The CBD is a very stable cannabinoid that is not sensitive to oxidation, unlike THC.

CBD is not psychoactive but has many medicinal properties. The CBD acts as a competitive antagonist of THC, with an opposite effect. It reduces the psychoactive effect or the high of THC, but at the same time, it will lengthen its effect over time, limiting the degradation of THC by the liver by inhibiting the enzyme cytochrome P-450-3A and 2C and direct competition with THC degrading enzymes.

Cannabinoid properties

Cannabinoid properties

The CBD acts on the body with a powerful relaxing effect on the muscles, inducing a state of sedation, a characteristic of some types of hashish. The CBD is then primarily responsible for the physical effect or stone body down. Indica strains typically contain more CBD than Sativa varieties.

CBD has a higher affinity for the CB2 receptor than for the CB1 receptor. It also acts on other non-cannabinoid receptors, such as 5-HT1A, resulting, in part, its anxiolytic effect.

It has the same metabolic precursor as THC, and CBD is the main cannabinoid that is is found in varieties with low levels of THC.
The CBD strongly lessens some of the side effects of THC, such as loss of short term memory, nervousness or disorientation.

Cannabis oil

Cannabis oil

  • Analgesic: reduces real pain, for this case, the CBD is the most efficient cannabinoid
  • Anti-inflammatory: reduces inflammation
  • The CBD poseepropiedades anti-tumor, antimetastatic, limiting progression of some cancers (particularmentede the prostate, breast, colon, brain …). The CBD is also antioncogéno, combating the appearance of tumors.
  • Anxiolytic and anti-depressant: reduce anxiety symptoms, bringing calmness and relaxation.
  • Antiemetics: reduces nausea and vomiting
  • Antipsychotics reduce psychosis (including delusions and hallucinations), helps fight schizophrenia
  • Treatment of multiple sclerosis (SEP) and of fibromyalgia
  • Powerful muscle relaxant
  • Helps combat insomnia
  • Protects against cerebral degeneration (Alzheimers …)
  • Relieves Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Antiepileptic: reduce seizures and convulsions
  • Antidiabetic: lowers blood sugar levels
  • Antispasmodic: It prevents spasms and convulsions
  • Anti-ischemic: reduces the risk of clogged arteries
  • Antibacterial: removes some bacteria, limiting their movement and reproduction (bacteriostatic), in a more effective way than THC.
  • Anti-psoriasis helps combat skin disease
  • Fights against acne
  • Hypotensive: reduces blood pressure
  • Anti-prokinetic: slows the contractions of the small intestine, helps fight Crohn’s disease (but increases habituation to Remicade) and irritable bowel disease.
  • Antioxidant fighting against free radicals (CBD is more antioxidant than vitamins C or E)
  • Reduces the urge to smoke tobacco
  • Stimulates bone growth
  • Too high levels of CBD may cause sedation (sleep).
  • The vaporization temperature of CBD is between 160 and 180 ° C.

How to increase the level of CBD in cannabis?

The only solution is to choose a strain that has a high level of CBD. This is found in larger amounts in varieties with little THC, such as hemp or Ruderalis (autoflorescientes variety).

However, in recent years some strains of marijuana containing both CBD and THC, with  a CBD / THC  ratio close to  1/1  were developed. These new strains are ideal for medicinal use of cannabis!

Increase Cannabinoids Medicinal Properties

Increase Cannabinoids Medicinal Properties

The Cannabinol CBN resulting from the degradation of THC

Cannabinol (CBN) is a product resulting from oxidation of THC. It can be a result of bad storage or intensive handling, like when creating concentrates. CBN is generally formed when the THC is, for a time exposed to UV light and air oxygen, with a degradation rate related to the temperature, that is, the higher the temperature, the faster it will degrade.

CBN has a very low psychoactive potency, equivalent to about 10% of the strength of THC. However, the CBN may cause feelings of dizziness, disorientation, fatigue and lassitude, and lower the heart rate.

The bond between CBN and the CB2 receptor is more important than that of the CB1 receptor, but much less than that of the THC.

The presence of CBN alongside THC, seems to reduce the feeling of anxiety that some feel with high levels of THC. As the THC seems less potent when accompanied by CBN.

Bottle of CBD Cannbinol (1880)

Bottle of CBD Cannbinol (1880)

Therapeutic Uses of CBN

  • Analgesic: reduces pain, CBN, then, is three times more potent than aspirin and more effective than THC
  • Reduces symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Charcot disease or Lou Gehrig)
  • Anti-inflammatory: reduces inflammation
  • Antispasmodic: reduces spasms and convulsions
  • Antioxidant, fights against free radicals
  • Immunosuppressant: decreases the reactivity of the immune system (useful in cases of HIV, organ transplant …)
  • Stimulates bone growth
  • CBN levels that are too high can cause the following side effects: fatigue, lassitude, sleep.
  • The vaporization temperature of the CBN is in the region of 185 ° C.

How to increase the level of CBN in marijuana?

The level of CBN in the buds can be influenced by the harvest, the drying, and the refining (curing).

A late harvest, with most amber trichomes, usually gives a higher level of CBN. The exposure to air is most important during drying and a longer, more thorough refining process increases the level of CBN in the harvest.

In fact, with a high level of CBN, the effect may appear good at first, but never seems to climax as the effect diminishes, consumers feel tired and numb.

In general, a high level of CBN is not desirable in marijuana, because it represents a loss of 90% of the psychoactive of its precursor THC.

Cannabis trichomes in their pure form

Cannabis trichomes in their pure form

The CBC, Cannabichromeno, a cannabinoid to study

The Cannabichromeno (CBC) is a rare, non-psychoactive cannabinoid. When present in the marijuana plant, it is always in low amounts (<1%)

The medical research shows that the CBC has significant anti-depressant effects, 10 times more potent than the CBD.

The CBC promotes relaxation and enhances the analgesic effect of THC, particularly in cases of headaches. Helps sleep and also has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.

Although the CBC is not psychoactive in pure form, it is possible for it to interact with THC to provide a more intense and pronounced effect.

Therapeutic uses of CBC

  • Analgesic: reduces pain, the CBC is primarily effective in relieving headaches and migraines
  • Promotes the growth and survival of neural progenitor stem cells
  • Powerful anti depressant
  • The CBC anti-tumor and antimetastatic properties limit the progression of some cancers
  • Anti-inflammatory: reduces inflammation
  • Antimicrobial and anti-fungal: removes some bacteria and fungi, their proliferation and limits movement (bacteriostatic) more efficiently than in the THC and CBD do.
  • Helps fight insomnia
  • Stimulates bone growth
  • Tests on animals with high doses of CBC led to sedation (sleep)
  • The vaporization temperature of the CBC is around 220 ° C.
  • How to increase the level of CBC marijuana?

Currently, the only way to increase the level of presence of CBC in cannabis is to spray (AB) abscisic acid on the cannabis plant at the end of flowering. However, it is a complex technique, the doses and applications of which vary according to the plant and growing conditions and is therefore reserved for the professionals in laboratories.

Concentration of cannabinoids in traditional hashish (Not BHO or Shatter)

Concentration of cannabinoids in traditional hashish (Not BHO or Shatter)

CBG, Cannabigerol, the precursor of THC and CBD

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is often found in marijuana plants. The acid form of Cannagigerol is a precursor of both THCA and CBDA and is indeed why the CBG is found in low amounts (<1%) in the plant when present, or if not, then these are exceptional cases.

CBG possesses important antibiotic properties inhibiting the aggregation of platelets, reducing blood clotting.

CBG is found in highest concentrations in the textile hemp varieties that are rich in THC.

Medicinal Uses of CBG :

  • Powerful antibacterial and antibiotic: removes some bacteria and fungus. For this use, the CBG is more effective than THC, CBD and CBN!
  • The CBG anti-tumor and antimetastatic poseepropiedades limiting the progression of some cancers (squamous cell carcinoma …)
  • Analgesic, relieves pain, more efficiently than THC
  • Anti-inflammatory: reduces inflammation
  • Treatment of glaucoma: reduces intraocular pressure
  • Treatment of Crohn’s disease
  • Helps combat insomnia
  • Stimulates bone growth
  • THCV, Tetrahidrocannabivarine, another psychoactive cannabinoid
Cannabinoid synthesis

Cannabinoid synthesis

THCV (Tetrahidrocannabivarin) is a (propyl) homologue of THC.

THCV increases the speed and intensity of the effects of THC, but also causes the effect to diminish more rapidly. The THCV potency gives a potent THC causing a stronger and more rapid “high” effect.

Indeed THCV psychoactive activity represents only 20 to 25% of the Delta9-THC. Acts faster but for less time.

THCV is found in some strains of marijuana, native to Asia and South Africa. The UV rays of mountain altitudes encourage the formation of THVC in the plant. Among the hybrids, we find, for example, a high quantity in the strain Jack The Ripper from TGA, likewise in Moby Dick from Dinafem.

THCV is an antagonist of THC to the CB1 and CB2 receptors

The THC / THCV ratio determines the degree of stimulation of appetite: THC increases while THCV reduces appetite and consequently, the amount of food consumed.

Medicinal uses of THCV:

  • Reduces appetite: treatment for overweight and obesity cases
  • Treatment of type 2 diabetes
  • Analgesic anti pain, particularly in the case of neuropathy
  • Antiepileptic: Lessens seizures and convulsions
  • Stimulates bone growth
  • The vaporization temperature of the THCV is less than 220 ° C.
The marijuana buds are covered with resin, which contains cannabinoids (CBD + CBDA + THC + THCA + CBG + CBN + ETC)

The marijuana buds are covered with resin, which contains cannabinoids (CBD + CBDA + THC + THCA + CBG + CBN + ETC)

It’s Interesting to note that the different cannabinoids possess analgesic properties to relieve pain. Generally, CBD would be more efficient in this respect, followed by CBN, CBG, THCV, THC and finally CBC. However, this classification varies for some types of pain, the CBC would thus, be efficient aswell as the more effective cannabinoids to relieve migraines and headaches, while THCV would be more efficient in the case of you having a condition affecting the central or peripheral nervous system.

The other cannabinoids in marijuana:

Although there are a host of other cannabinoids, these are still little known and studied. We can cite for example CBDV or Cannabidivarine, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that the company GW Pharmaceuticals (known for Sativex) is researching and would be particularly interesting in the fight against epilepsy. While CBDV is generally a minor constituent in the profile of cannabinoids, the highest levels of CBDV were found in some strains of marijuana from the northern Himalayas and in some hashish from Nepal.

Like other phytocannabinoids, we can also quote CBL (Cannabicycol resulting from oxidative degradation CBC), CBV (Cannabivarin), CBNV (Cannabinchromevarin), CBND (Cannabinodiol), CBGV (Cannabigerovarin), CBT (Cannabicitran) CBE (Cannabielsoin), CBCN (Cannabichromanon), CBLV (Cannabifuran), CBR (Cannabiripsol) … waiting quietly for medical research to explore and discover all the properties and their potential uses. Of course, we won’t forget to keep you informed on this topic.

We hope this article will help you better distuinguish the most important cannabinoids and optimize your marijuana cultivation depending on the desired effect, particularly in the therapeutic frame.

Marijuana cigarettes distributed in French pharmacies until not long ago

Marijuana cigarettes distributed in French pharmacies until not long ago

Main sources for the writing of this article:

  • Marijuana Chemistry: Genetics, Processing & Potency (Michael Starks)
  • Marijuana and Cannabinoids (A.ElSohly Mahmoud, PhD)
  • Exo-plank (a massive acknowledegment!)
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoide-terpenoid entourage effects (Ethan B Russo)
  • alpha-cat.org

Reprinted with permission of alchimiaweb (pending).

For full details on medical marijuana laws and CBD in legal marijuana States,
visit our page with more Information on Legal Medical Marijuana States

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) DISCLOSURE
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always check with your physician before starting a new dietary supplement program.
* Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural constituent of hemp oil.

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