10 Most influential cannabinoids produced by cannabis

Published Mar 9, 2019 10:24 a.m. ET

If you ask most people what cannabinoids they are aware of, the answer is usually only one or two, including THC or CBD. This is because they are the most popular and highly publicized, but they aren’t produced naturally and require some form of activation like decarboxylation to exist at all. There are hundreds of different cannabinoids that can be found in varying degrees across cannabis strains, but today we will be focusing on the most influential, meaning the most likely to affect a user’s experience with a particular weed strain.

Do all cannabis plants produce the same cannabinoids?

The answer is no, though many will include a chemical profile that is similar to others of the same species, every single weed strain is unique and will produce its variation of cannabinoids.

How do cannabinoids affect a user’s experience with cannabis?

THC is the only cannabinoid that is known for its psychoactive effects with THCA being suspected of similar properties when taken in more significant quantities. The rest that are present will contribute to how the strain affects your body when it interacts with the cannabinoid system. They can alter how intense the high is, how long it lasts, and what type of sensations are produced.

10 Most influential cannabinoids

These particular cannabinoids are thought to have the most significant impact on a user's experience with a cannabis strain.

1. THC - Tetrahydrocannabinol
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the only chemical compound found in cannabis to produce such intense sedative and euphoric effects. It is a common misconception that THC is found in rawbud flowers. THC is the activated version of THCA. This process only occurs when the cannabis is decarboxylated or smoked which is why eating raw marijuana will not get you high. THC can help to relieve pain, treat depression or anxiety, and is used in conjunction with other medications in the treatment of many different diagnoses including cancer, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, seizures, chronic pain, and for inflammation of the joints.

2. CBD - Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid that can make up anywhere from .5%-40% of a cannabis plants cannabinoid profile. CBD will coat the receptors before THC is absorbed and has proven to influence how intensely a weed strain will affect someone. Cannabis strains that produce higher levels of CBD tend to provide a lighter and more energetic high, and those that have lower amounts a more couch locked sedative type feeling. CBD itself is not present in the sensations felt immediately after consumption as it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that reduces swelling throughout the body. CBD is often used for less severe cases of the same physical ailments that THC includes pain, anxiety, depression, and inflammation.

3. THCA - Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is the chemical compound that transforms into THC. Some THCA will slowly convert into THC as the plant material dries, but most of it will not be activated until it is smoked or decarboxylated. THCA does not have the same intense psychoactive effects as it’s a precursorbut can mildly affect an individual in a similar way if consumed in large quantities. Since the amount of THCA present will profoundly impact the potency of a cannabis plant, it is one of the most influential cannabinoids on a user’s overall experience with each weed strain.

4. CBDA - Cannabidiolic Acid
In the same way that THCA is required for THC to be activated, Cannabidiolic acid is CBD’s precursor element. Decarboxylation is necessary for the activation to take place, and since the presence of CBD will heavily influence how a cannabis strain will affect an individual, it is one of the essential cannabinoids produced by marijuana plants. Since CBDA does not bind with the receptors and instead acts as an inhibitor to enzymes responsible for chronic inflammation. Once introduced to a person's system its presence forces the user’s body to produce higher levels of serotonin which provides more therapeutic effects caused by the body’s natural release of chemicals rather than the cannabinoid itself.

5. THCV - Tetrahydrocannabivarin
THCV has recently made waves amongst the medical community as research has uncovered this precious cannabinoid’s potential for an array of health benefits. It does have a similar chemical structure to THC but it is not psychoactive, and it does have many other abilities such as suppressing appetite, managing diabetes and stimulating bone growth. THCV must be decarboxylated by heating the bud flowers to 428 F or through smoking. This cannabinoid is most known for its ability to kick the notorious munchies to the curb without affecting the potency of the plant.

6. CBGA - Cannabigerol Acid
Cannabigerol is one of the most commonly found cannabinoids across all weed strains and makes up an average of 1% of the chemical profile of any cannabis plant. There has been very limited research on this cannabinoid with only two peer reviewed studies currently available that were performed in vitro and on aged rats. Their analysis does, however, show a significant increase in appetite, feeding behaviors, and lower levels of neurodegeneration and cancer in the ones who were exposed to CBGA in varying amounts.

7. CBC- Cannabichromene
CBD AKA cannabichromene, cannabichromene, or pentyl cannabichromene is a cannabinoid with a similar chemical structure to CBD, THC, and CBN. When CBGA is decarboxylated, it is turned into CBC. Unlike other cannabinoids, it does not interact with cb1 and cb2 receptors and instead works with the TRPA1, TRPA2, and TRPV3 to boost the immune system, lower blood sugars and can help to suppress appetite.

8. CBN - Cannabinol
This cannabinoid isn’t produced by a fresh cannabis plant and isn’t found at all until the THC within the plant materials begin to break down. So older dried cannabis is more likely to have higher levels of CBN. Its effects are equal to that of diazepam with 5mg of CBN being just as effective and 10 mg of the more traditional alternative. CBN is an appetite stimulant and a significant influence on the stereotypical munchies side effect. It can also provide pain relief, antibacterial qualities, anti-inflammatory properties, and help a person to sleep better.

9. CBG - Cannabigerol
In most cannabis strains CBGA is converted into either THCA or CBDA so weed strains that contain the most THC will also have the least CBG and CBD. This happens naturally as the plant matures through sunlight and heat exposure. So far research has shown CBG to interact with very specific areas of the body including the eyes, bowels, brain, bladder, and any kind of cancer growths. That is why this cannabinoid is so effective in treating glaucoma, intraocular pressure, inflammation, bowel disease, cancer, Huntington’s disease, bladder injuries, and it acts as an antibacterial agent slowly cleaning its way as it moves throughout the body.

10. CBDV - Cannabidivarin
Cannabidivarin is one of the many primary cannabinoids found in cannabis that has been most thoroughly researched due to its unique properties. CBDV is incredibly effective at calming and even eradicating convulsions in those who suffer from neurological disorders. It is not psychoactive at all while somehow interacting 50% more with all the CB receptors than any other cannabinoids. CBDV is currently being used in a drug trial for a promising epilepsy medication alternative.

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