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Minor Cannabinoids with Medicinal Potential

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Cannabinoids are natural chemical compounds produced by the cannabis plant. There is no denying THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) as the most well-known cannabinoid, infamous for its psychoactive properties. CBD (Cannabidiol) has also risen to fame within the last decade thanks to its array of acclaimed health benefits.

minor cannabinoid synthesis chart

Along with THC and CBD, there are over 100 other recognised cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

In recent years, scientists are beginning to uncover more about the lesser-known minor cannabinoids. Although some findings are still inconclusive, the medical cannabis community are starting to see major potential in these minor cannabinoids.

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

THCV - Tetrahydrocannabivarin

THCV is similar to THC in terms of chemical structure, with some minor molecular differences.

Recent research suggests THCV is unique in which it does not activate the CB1 receptors when used in low doses. However, with higher doses, its behaviour changes and can induce psychoactive effects in users. The evidence for this trait is still limited and requires further study due to the small sample size.[1]

The other subtle difference THCV has from THC is that it suppresses appetite. This is in contrast to THC - which is renowned to stimulate appetite, or bette known as “the munchies”.

In addition to the properties mentioned above, THCV has also shown promise in the following medicinal areas:

CBDV (Cannabidivarin)

CBDV - Cannabidivarin

CBDV is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with a similar chemical structure as CBD. It is more actively found in higher ratios in strains with higher CBD and low THC. CBDV is also known to be more abundant in native landrace indica strains originating from Asia and Africa.

Similar to CBD, CBDV has shown great potential with its anti-convulsant properties to assist seizures and epilepsy amongst other conditions:

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) & CBDA ( Cannabidiolic Acid)

THCA - Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid & CBDA - Cannabidiolic Acid

If you’ve ever wondered why cannabis is usually dried, combusted or cooked before consumption - it’s because of these two cannabinoids. THCA is the raw non-intoxicating compound usually found on live cannabis plants. Once the plant is dried or exposed to heat, THCA converts to THC. This process is known as “decarboxylation”.

The same holds true for CBD, through decarboxylation, CBDA will slowly convert to CBD.

As you may have guessed, the plant will need to be consumed or juiced raw in order to reap the benefits of THCA or CBDA.

CBDA has shown potential for the following areas:

THCA has shown similar properties including support for:

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN - Cannabinol

Cannabinol (aka CBN) is created as a by-product from the oxygenation and decomposition of THC. Put simply, THC degrades into CBN over time when exposed to oxygen and light. Hence why CBN is most commonly found on aged cannabis buds.

CBN has often been associated with causing sedative and drowsiness effects, however, other research suggests it is usually due to a synergetic effect when used in conjunction with THC[1].

There is another explanation by renowned cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo. He suggests the sedative effects may have been caused by sedative terpenes that are more abundant on aged cannabis, rather than CBN.

While more study is required to determine whether CBN is sedative on its own - there is already a great deal of reported therapeutic potentials of CBN:

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBG - Cannabigerol

CBGA is often referred to as the “mother of cannabinoids”.

During the early stages of cannabis growth, CBGA is the sole cannabinoid present in the plant’s chemical makeup. As it matures, CBGA is converted into THCA, CBDA and CBCA. However, a small percentage of CBGA does not get converted and remains even after the plant flowers.

We’ve already touched on the process of decarboxylation and how THCA and CBDA convert into THC and CBD over time or through exposure to heat. The same can be said for CBG - through decarboxylation, CBGA slowly converts into CBG.

Like many of the other minor cannabinoids, research for CBG is still somewhat limited. CBG by itself is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, and early findings are also showing potential for the following areas:

CBC (Cannabichromene)

CBC - Cannabichromene

CBC is another cannabinoid stemming from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) in a similar manner to THC and CBD. As previously discussed, CBGA can convert into one of three possible major cannabinoids - THCA, CBDA or CBCA. As CBCA ages or exposed to heat, it breaks down into CBC (decarboxylation).

CBC is non-psychoactive due to its inability to strongly bind to the CB1 receptors in our endocannabinoid system. This is the opposite of THC, which is able to bind and activate CB1 receptors to induce the “euphoric” high associated with cannabis use. However, it does bind well with other receptors such as TRPV1 and TRPA1, which are associated with pain perception.

As with other minor cannabinoids, CBC has demonstrated to show great potential in enhancing the overall therapeutic effects when used in conjunction with other cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.

Research has also suggested CBC can support a variety of symptoms and conditions:

The State of Minor Cannabinoids in Medicine

Although still in its infancy, minor cannabinoids are slowly taking shape in the medical space. Thanks to a host of promising therapeutic properties and mostly non-intoxicating nature.

There are still some barriers to cross before minor cannabinoids become mainstream. High demand and low supply along with expensive overheads to extract isolates can prove to be a minor roadblock. With more accessible technology, research and breeders exploring strains containing specific cannabinoids, the cost versus supply will gradually normalise.

These are exciting times for the medicinal cannabis industry as it matures with more research underway. We have no doubt minor cannabinoids will play a pivotal role in the years to come.

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References
  1. Englund, Amir & Atakan, Zerrin & Kralj, Aleksandra & Tunstall, Nigel & Murray, Robin & Morrison, Paul. (2015). The effect of five day dosing with THCV on THC-induced cognitive, psychological and physiological effects in healthy male human volunteers: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 30. 10.1177/0269881115615104.

  2. Appendino, Giovanni & Gibbons, Simon & Giana, Anna & Pagani, Alberto & Grassi, Gianpaolo & Stavri, Michael & Smith, Eileen & Rahman, Mahabur. (2008). Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure-Activity Study. Journal of Natural Products. 71. 1427-1430. 10.1021/np8002673.

  3. Zurier, R.B. and Burstein, S.H. (2016), Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis. The FASEB Journal, 30: 3682-3689. doi:10.1096/fj.201600646R

Disclaimer
The statements made on this website are for information and educational purposes. BudHerd and its affiliates are not recommending anyone to use or cultivate cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. Please consult with your doctor before using medical cannabis to learn about the associated negative side effects. Medical cannabis is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia and more details about cannabis as a scheduled drug can be found on their website.