Cannabis 101: What Are Cannabinoids and What Are Their Benefits?

If you’re new to medical cannabis, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with terminology. THC and CBD? Topicals, edibles, and concentrates? It’s a lot to take in!

We can help. It’s true that the cannabis plant is complex: A phytochemical factory that produces not one, but hundreds of different compounds. But in today’s post, we’ll start off with the cannabinoids.

What is a cannabinoid? Simply put, they are unique compounds with the ability to interact with innate systems in our body, along with the bodies of all mammals and many other creatures, too. And as recent cannabinoid medical research shows, they can exert a wide range of therapeutic effects on our bodies and minds.

Okay, ready for a deep dive into the world of medical cannabis? Let’s begin.

 

The Basics: What Is a Cannabinoid?

As we hinted at a moment ago, there are hundreds of chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, and scientists are working hard to uncover their various effects. But one of the largest groups of compounds produced by cannabis (and hemp!) plants are cannabinoids.

If you’re curious about cannabis, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of the two principal cannabinoids: THC and CBD. THC—short for tetrahydrocannabinol—is responsible for the cannabis plant’s euphoric “high,” but that’s hardly the end of the story. It’s been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory, pain-killing, and anti-nausea effects, among others.

CBD (full name cannabidiol), on the other hand, is not intoxicating. It is the primary active ingredient in the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex®, which is used to treat seizure disorders like Lennox-Gastaut. It’s also being investigated for a wide range of therapeutic applications, including:

Confused between cannabinoid vs cannabidiol? You’re not the only one! The two words are quite similar so it’s easy to confuse them. But here’s an easy way to remember: Cannabidiol (or CBD) is a type of cannabinoid, just like THC, CBN and CBG. What are CBN and CBG you ask? Let’s unpack these cannabinoids next.

 

CBG and CBN Cannabinoid Benefits

Of course, THC and CBD aren’t the only cannabinoids. Researchers have identified at least 150 different cannabinoids thus far, and it’s hoped that some may deliver as-yet-unknown medical benefits. Two of the better-understood “minor cannabinoids” are CBG—short for cannabigerol—and CBN, aka cannabinol.

Cannabigerol is currently being investigated for its potential to help treat:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): A 2013 animal study suggests that CBG has the potential to help control this debilitating disease, which affects at least 5 million people worldwide.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases: A study published in 2015 found that in a rodent model, CBG acted as a neuroprotector by helping to defend neurons from the ravages of Huntington’s disease.

As for CBN, a 2019 rodent-model study found that—like CBD— it reduced myofascial pain, a specific type of discomfort associated with fibromyalgia, among other disorders. This is especially welcome news for the estimated 4 million American adults who suffer from this difficult-to-treat disorder.

 

Concluding Your Introduction to Medical Cannabis

We hope this brief guide helped you understand a little of what makes medical cannabis tick. Of course, there’s always more to learn and we invite you to ask questions. Drop us a line or stop by any of our dispensaries to speak with our staff. We’re always here to help. Or, peruse our online menu to see what we currently have in stock. We look forward to serving you!