Common Cannabinoids Found In Full Spectrum CBD
Once in a blue moon, Washington comes together to pass reasonable laws that abide by the voice of the American people. One of these rare events was the signing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known colloquially as the 2018 Farm Bill. As you know by now, the Farm Bill set in motion a robust cannabis-based retail market. Under the language of the law, industrial hemp and hemp derivatives, such as the ever popular cannabidiol (CBD), are legal at the federal level. The major caveat, though, is that these products cannot contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is the psychoactive compound found in the marijuana plant.
Furthermore, specific to the Farm Bill, botanical products that do contain more than 0.3% THC content or are not sourced from industrial hemp is considered marijuana. So long as producers meet this requirement – and as long as they comply with individual state laws – the cannabis products that they sell are legal.
But because of the complexities of the Farm Bill – for instance, hemp-derived cannabis is legal, but marijuana is not – many folks, especially newcomers are still digesting the many intricacies and nuances of this legislation. Prominent among them is the many different cannabinoids associated with current botanical products.
The Many Faces and Spectrums of Cannabis
Before we dive into the topic of cannabinoids, though, we must first discuss the many faces and spectrums of legal cannabis products. As the Farm Bill specified, industrial hemp with a THC content of 0.3% or less is federally legal. But what exactly is industrial hemp?
A strain of the cannabis sativa plant, hemp features its “industrial” prefix because it’s a type of cannabis that agricultural manufacturers grow for the plant’s industrial (or non-recreational) use. Contrary to common misconceptions, hemp is an amazingly utilitarian material. Throughout human history, hemp provided the platform for pottery, textiles, food products, and medicine, among several other applications.
Furthermore, an important distinction about hemp is that it carries the same properties of wild, natural cannabis – the exception being the lack or trace amount of THC. As such, botanical experts can cultivate CBD, along with the other cannabinoids (or organic compounds) associated with the cannabis plant.
This example represents what the industry terms full spectrum CBD; that is, a hemp derivative that contains CBD and possibly several other cannabinoids. Manufacturers can gear their CBD products for specific responses based on their cannabinoid choices. This is possible because not all cannabinoids impart the same response – for instance, some express relaxing qualities while others have “pick-me-up” attributes.
Additionally, full spectrum CBD may include terpenes or essential oils. As aromatic elements, terpenes provide the distinctive “weedy” smell of natural cannabis. However, this isn’t just about personal perception; rather, the aromas of botanical products trigger responses in our own bodies. Have you noticed the tingling sensations in your ears or head right before you drink your morning cup of orange juice? Those are terpenes in action!
When combined with cannabinoids, terpenes synergistically work to produce incredible therapeutic benefits for the end-user, which is known as the “entourage effect.” Therefore, these essential oils play an integral role in the ultimate enjoyment of CBD-infused products.
Full spectrum contrasts with another popular cannabidiol product category called CBD isolate. Isolate derivatives are cannabis with only CBD. In this situation, the lack of other cannabinoids and terpenes negates the possibility of the entourage effect.
Ultimately, if you desire health benefits, full spectrum CBD (or broad spectrum CBD – full spectrum without THC) products may be the ideal platform. If that’s the case, below is a quick list of the common cannabinoids found in popular full spectrum CBD products:
Cannabidiol or CBD has garnered tremendous popularity not only due to its federal legality but also because it’s the most potent cannabinoid behind THC. That means CBD has many of the therapeutic attributes associated with the marijuana plant but with one critical exception: as a non-psychoactive compound, CBD will not get you high.
Found mainly in the cannabis indica strain originally sourced from Asia and Africa, cannabidivarin or CBDV offers powerful medicinal properties. In fact, CBDV is the principle organic compound in GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, which addresses seizure symptoms in young children. Subsequently, Epidiolex is so far the only cannabis-based drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
While the word “acid” often has a negative connotation, scientifically, it simply refers to substances that neutralize alkalis. And with cannabidiolic acid or CBDA, this is a type of acid you want in your system. Unlike most cannabinoids that bind to our bodies’ endocannabinoid receptors, CBDA instead inhibits the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. COX-2 typically results from inflammation or infection, and thus, CBDA helps alleviate pain associated with such incidences.
A cannabinoid that is similar in structure to THC, cannabinol (CBN) is a particularly potent compound because it may bind to endocannabinoid receptors (CB1) that are primarily located in the central nervous system. CBN naturally has relaxing or sedative qualities. Therefore, CBN is useful in mitigating pain and inflammation and it may also help lower blood pressure.
Cannabinolic Acid (CBNA)
Cannabinolic acid (CBNA) is incredibly similar to its base cannabinoid CBN. When heated, CBNA undergoes a process called decarboxylation, which results in its conversion to CBN. Historically, cannabinolic acid is one of the least studied cannabinoids, although that is changing rapidly. Based on early research, CBNA should have both sedative and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the potential to address serious conditions.
Commonly present in very low levels in most cannabis strains, botanical experts regard cannabigerol (CBG) as a “minor cannabinoid.” However, there’s nothing minor about its possible medical implications. For instance, researchers are investigating CBG’s role in eye health. Scientists theorize that CBG may be effective with glaucoma because of its ability to reduce intraocular pressure.
Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA)
A “protective” cannabinoid, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) catalyzes leaf pruning, which allows the underlying cannabis plant to direct maximum energy flow to its flower. While serious research is just beginning for CBGA, it may have potential medicinal benefits involving the cardiovascular system. CBGA’s lack of serious side effects may also attract research dollars.
Distinct among other cannabinoids, cannabichromene or CBC binds poorly – if at all – to CB1 receptors. Therefore, it doesn’t trigger a psychoactive effect. However, CBC attaches to other receptors within the body which are responsible for pain perception. As with some of the lesser known cannabinoids, research is just starting on CBC, but it may have strong implications toward addressing serious diseases.
Cannabichromenic Acid (CBCA)
One of the more exciting discoveries in cannabinoid research, cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) is a non-psychoactive compound that likely offers anti-inflammatory impact, along with analgesic (pain relief) properties. Additionally, further research is being conducted to explore CBCA’s role in offering antimicrobial benefits.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
Despite its name, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. As with most other cannabinoids, end-users consume THCA to help mitigate inflammation and relieve pain. Additionally, THCA may potentially offer a platform for to help with arthritis and seizures. Currently, research toward cannabis-related multiple sclerosis therapies often involve THCA.
Similar structurally to THC, tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV is, unlike THCA above, a psychoactive compound. As such, it provides similar therapeutic benefits regarding pain and anxiety management. However, advanced scientific analyses are currently being conducted regarding THCV’s role in serious conditions, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.