The three major cannabinoids, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabinol (CBN) have all been studied at length for their various effects. CBN is generally a waste product formed from the degradation of THC molecules overtime, and is only mildly psychoactive. CBD is formed at the same stage of biosynthesis as THC, but has no psychoactive properties and has mostly been the subject of inquiry for its virtues as a miraculous healing agent for various afflictions and illnesses. THC (or more specifically delta-9 THC), easily the best known of all cannabinoids, is the major contributor to the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis, and is another component that has been researched extensively, at times to inform the process of engineering low or high-THC strains, and at other times for its effectiveness in treating and soothing behavioral and mental illnesses.
Those are the major cannabinoids though, and the fact that they are referred to in that way hints towards the existence of other, minor cannabinoids. THC, CBD, and CBN are only 3 of over 120 known cannabinoids that are found in various quantities in different strains of cannabis, and other cannabinoids have, especially in recent times, received a share of the limelight as well. Let’s take a look at some of the other famous (and relatively unknown) chemical components of the cannabis plant, and explore why they might become just as popular as the trifecta in the near future.
CBG is a low-abundance cannabinoid that is found in its highest concentrations in strains with low-THC content. Once not commonly known, CBG has emerged onto the scene after the medicinal properties of CBD came to light, and strains engineered for specific traits started to acquire popularity. CBG is similar to CBD in that it has no psychoactive effects, and that it has great potential for healing in extreme cases.
CBG is currently being studied for its ability to cure illnesses like glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, and rare diseases like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. For it’s potential assistance with Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, CBG was recently granted orphan drug status, which means it should be seeing more funding go towards research in the near future.
CBG also has antibacterial properties and is being investigated for its ability to combat MRSA. MRSA is a particularly drug resistant staph infection that contributes to a large number of hospital infections.
Perhaps the most important avenues for CBG research involve glioblastoma, which is one of the most potent and aggressive brain cancers presently known. CBG attacks and reverses the effects of cancer cells present in certain parts of the brain; cells which were previously known to resist treatment.
CBG is also known to be an appetite stimulant, and this may lead to it seeing use as a treatment for eating disorders like anorexia.
THCV is another relatively unknown cannabinoid that is presently being researched for its health and therapeutic effects. In animal trials, THCV was found to aid the body in its effort to regulate blood sugar, helping in pancreas function and glycemic control. This could mean wonders for the diabetes epidemic, as THCV improves the production and function of the cells responsible for creating insulin in the body. The compound could also aid sufferers of obesity, as, by improving fasting sugar and other factors, THCV can help people recalibrate their metabolisms and lose weight. Obesity often wreaks havoc on the hormonal composition of victims, which in turn makes it harder to fight off the affliction. In the near future, we may see minor cannabinoids like THCV change that.
THCV is also an antagonist of THC, and serves to counteract its psychoactive effects.
CBC is another member of the cannabinoid family with no known psychoactive effects. In animals, the drug was found to have pain-suppressing qualities. Other possible positive effects include antidepressant-like effects, as measured through chemical responses in the brain that were judged as similar to those of known antidepressants.
Perhaps the most important function that CBC could fulfill in the future has to do with its ability to improve and sustain brain function. In a study conducted by Neurochemistry International, CBC was found to improve the viability of neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs). NSPCs serve as the foundation of neural activity, and their degradation over time leads to several cognitive and mental impairments, especially in people of age. CBCs effects as a drug that sustains these cells could revolutionize how we treat many of these diseases.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A)
THC-A is a biological precursor to THC. In fully grown plants, most of the THC-A that would’ve been present at a certain stage in the plant’s development has already been used up to synthesize THC. However, THC-A can be extracted in larger quantities from strains genetically engineered to support it in abundance. The drug is being studied for a variety of effects, including the management of arthritis and appetite loss, as well as for its ability to slow down and resist prostate cancer. THC-A, like THC, interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, causing the known intoxicative effects of cannabis.
CBG, THCV, CBC, and THC-A, are just four of the several cannabinoids that are found in cannabis. Given that most of their potential health benefits are currently only in the early stages of being fleshed out further, we can’t say whether these compounds will ever see common, household use. What is certain, is that research into these and other cannabinoidswill only continue to yield results and gain traction. So while we can’t say for certain which cannabinoids will be making it onto our shelves first, we can be sure that some of them will inevitably do so.