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Cannabinoids

The House of “Noids”

An 8k 3D - rendering of a microscopic view of cannabinoid compounds inside a cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids on display within stalked trichomes with vibrant orange hues, purple hairs, and green leaves.

This segment of our blog probes the infamous and famous cannabinoids we all know and love (and a few I’m sure you’ve never heard of). This is your go-to hub for all things cannabinoid-related.

We’ll cover Phytocannabinoids within cannabis plants and their intricate hierarchy. We’ll open the doors to man-made Synthetic and Semi-synthetic cannabinoid compounds. Then, we’ll illuminate more on the exciting details of the Endocannabinoids within our bodies.

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Table of Contents

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a remarkable family of chemical compounds that have a special way of interacting with certain spots, known as cannabinoid receptors, in the cells of our body.

They are like the special guests that trigger a celebration, altering the release of neurotransmitter party-goers (chemical messengers) in the brain’s grand hall.

These receptors are part of the larger, bustling community known as the endocannabinoid system, playing a crucial role in everyday happenings of our bodily neighborhood, influencing things like our appetite, how we feel pain, our mood swings, and how we store memories.

To date, researchers have identified 180 distinct cannabinoids, each purported to deliver unique effects to the user. Evidence increasingly suggests that cannabinoids hold recreational, medicinal, and therapeutic potential.

Here’s a glimpse into the variety within the cannabinoid realm:

Endocannabinoids:

These are cannabinoids produced naturally within the body, like anandamide and 2-AG, playing a key role in the internal harmony and regulation of body processes. Imagine your body as a cozy home where endocannabinoids are the hosts, ensuring everything is in order, making you feel comfortable and balanced.

Phytocannabinoids:

Originating from plants, particularly the cannabis plant, these include well-known compounds like THC and CBD which mimic the action of endocannabinoids by interacting with the body's cannabinoid receptors. Picture a friendly neighbor (the cannabis plant) lending you some sugar (phytocannabinoids) that surprisingly fits perfectly in your coffee, adding the sweet balance just like your own sugar would.

Synthetic Cannabinoids:

Created in the lab, these compounds are designed to mimic the effects of natural cannabinoids, often with stronger or more predictable effects, used in research and sometimes in medical settings. Picture scientists crafting a key from scratch that can unlock a special door within your body, leading to new discoveries on how to keep us feeling good.

Semi-Synthetic Cannabinoids:

These are derived by making modifications to the phytocannabinoids, aiming to enhance their therapeutic effects or reduce side effects. Imagine taking that sugar from your neighbor, refining it a bit in your kitchen to suit your taste even better - that’s what happens with semi-synthetic cannabinoids, they are tweaked to perfection in a lab.

Each of these members from the cannabinoid family has a unique tale to tell, showcasing the harmonious blend of nature, science, and our body’s own ingenuity.

The world of cannabinoids is indeed a blend of the familiar and the extraordinary, opening doors to understanding our body better and finding new paths to wellness.andnbsp;

View the following article for a DEEP DIVE into the differences between each type of cannabinoid.

PHYTOCANNABINOIDS: The Naturally OccurRing Major andamp; Minor Cannabinoids from cannabis plants

The classification of major and minor cannabinoids primarily hinges on their abundance in the cannabis plant and the extent of their researched effects on the human body. 

Here’s a more nuanced breakdown based on our gathered information:

Major Phytocannabinoids

The major cannabinoids below, especially THC and CBD, have been extensively researched due to their prevalence and notable effects. Here are quick descriptions of the following cannabinoid-specific articles you can learn more about if you wish more information on:

  • Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Known for its psychoactive effects, THC is the most recognized cannabinoid that gives cannabis its characteristic “high.”
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): Renowned for its potential therapeutic benefits, CBD is non-psychoactive and is being researched for various medical applications.
  • Cannabigerol (CBG): Although less abundant, CBG is gaining attention for its potential health benefits. It’s often referred to as the parent molecule from which other cannabinoids are synthesized.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC): This cannabinoid is also part of the major cannabinoids list due to its potential health benefits, although it’s lesser-known compared to THC and CBD.

Minor Phytocannabinoids

Minor cannabinoids are usually present in lower concentrations in the cannabis plant. Here’s a brief intro for each:

  • Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8-THC): A milder cousin of THC with less psychoactive potency.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): Holds promise in managing metabolic disorders and obesity.
  • Cannabinol (CBN): Known for its potential sedative effects, CBN is found in aged cannabis.
  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV): Similar to CBD but with a slightly different molecular structure, CBDV is being researched for its potential health benefits.

Articles For Additional Learning

There is a lot of debate on whether or not CBD is “psychoactive,” we bring you the facts in the following article.

The top two phytocannabinoids in the history of mankind go head to head in this comparative article; a cannabinoid battle for glory, honor, and respect!

Important Definitions

If you really want to understand these magical hemp and marijuana compounds, you should learn more about these terms!

Events, Actions, andamp; Reactions That Create or Transform Cannabinoids:

Oxidation:
A chemical reaction in which a substance loses electrons, often resulting in the addition of oxygen to a molecule or the removal of hydrogen.

Oxidative Degradation:
The breakdown of organic compounds due to reactions with oxygen.

Isomerization:
A chemical process by which a compound is transformed into any of its isomeric forms, i.e., forms with the same molecular formula but different structural arrangements.

Metabolic Byproduct:
A secondary or incidental product resulting from the metabolism of a primary compound.

Synthase:
An enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of a specific compound or compounds in biological systems.

Decarboxylation:
The process of applying heat to convert cannabinoids in their acid form to their active form. For instance, turning THCA into THC.

Miscellaneous Terms Commonly Used When Discussing Cannabinoids

 

Entourage Effect:
The theory that all the compounds in cannabis work together, and when taken together, they produce a better effect than when taken alone.

Flavonoid:
A group of phytonutrients responsible for the vivid colors in fruits, vegetables, and flowers, also found in cannabis. Some have medicinal properties.

Anandamide:
Commonly referred to as “The Bliss Molecule,” anandamide is an endocannabinoid, also known as N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), which plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility.

Derivative:
A compound that originates from a parent compound by the replacement of one or more atoms or groups or by other types of chemical transformations.

Homolog:
In organic chemistry, homologs are compounds in a series that have the same general formula but differ by a constant unit, often CH₂.

Semi-Synthetic Cannabinoids:

These cannabinoids are naturally found in marijuana and hemp plants, but are not abundant enough for commercial purposes. This lack has led to innovative molecule manipulation techniques that make these less-available cannabinoids more accessible for product infusion.

The Hierarchy of PHYTOcannabinoids

In the intricate world of cannabinoids, their diversity is not just confined to their origins like plants or the human body, but extends to their molecular structures and stages of development.

Broadly, cannabinoids can be categorized into three distinct groups:

  1. Acidic Forms (Precursor Cannabinoids)
  2. Neutral Cannabinoids
  3. Cannabinoid Variants


Each group showcases a unique facet of cannabinoid chemistry and functionality, often organized as the hierarchy of cannabinoids.

Acidic Forms (Precursors):

  • Acidic cannabinoids are the precursors to the more commonly known cannabinoids. They are synthesized by the cannabis plant in its raw form. For instance, THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid) are the acidic forms of THC and CBD respectively.
  • These precursors require activation through a process known as decarboxylation, where heat causes them to lose a carboxyl group, transforming into their neutral forms like THC or CBD.
  • The acidic forms have been found to possess their own therapeutic potential, although they are less researched compared to their neutral counterparts.

CBGA (Cannabigerolic Acid)
CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)
THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)
CBCA (Cannabichromenic Acid)
CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic Acid)
THCVA (Tetrahydrocannabivarinic Acid)
CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic Acid)
CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic Acid)

Neutral Cannabinoids:

  • These are the more familiar forms of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, which are obtained after the decarboxylation of their acidic precursors.
  • They interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, influencing various physiological processes such as appetite, mood, and pain perception.
  • Their therapeutic potential is being extensively researched and they are the primary focus in medical cannabis discussions due to their prevalence and known effects.

CBG (Cannabigerol)
CBD (Cannabidiol)
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
CBC (Cannabichromene)
CBL (Cannabicyclol)
CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
CBCV (Cannabichromevarin)
CBGV (Cannabigerivarin)
CBN (Cannabinol)

Cannabinoid Variants

  • Cannabinoid variants encompass a broader spectrum of molecules that include modifications to the basic cannabinoid structure, leading to a plethora of compounds with varying effects.
  • This category includes the minor cannabinoids and the ‘varin’ series like THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin), which have slight molecular tweaks compared to the major cannabinoids, potentially leading to different or enhanced effects.
  • The exploration of cannabinoid variants is a burgeoning field, opening new avenues for understanding the therapeutic and physiological impacts of these diverse compounds.

Variants of THC:

Δ9-THC
Δ8-THC
Δ10-THC

Variants of CBG:

Δ9-CBG
Δ8-CBG

Variants of CBC:

Δ9-CBC
Δ10-CBC

Variants of CBD:

Δ9-CBD

Variants of THCV:

Δ9-THCV

Variants of CBGV:

Δ9-CBGV

Variants of CBN:

Δ9-CBN

In conclusion, the multifaceted nature of cannabinoids, encapsulated in the acidic forms, neutral cannabinoids, and the various cannabinoid variants, unfolds a complex yet enthralling narrative.

This narrative not only deepens our understanding of the cannabis plant but also broadens the horizon for medical research and therapeutic applications.

The transformation from acidic precursors to neutral cannabinoids, along with the broad spectrum of cannabinoid variants, underscores the intricate interplay of chemistry, biology, and human health in the evolving story of cannabis and cannabinoid science.

Summary

Cannabinoids are diverse chemical compounds with major categories including endocannabinoids produced naturally within the body, phytocannabinoids originating from plants like cannabis, and synthetic/semi-synthetic cannabinoids crafted or modified in laboratories.

Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, playing pivotal roles in physiological processes like mood, appetite, and pain sensation.

  • Phytocannabinoids, containing major cannabinoids, THC and CBD, are the most recognized, originating from the cannabis plant, while others like CBG and CBC also hold notable importance.

  • Synthetic and semi-synthetic cannabinoids are designed to mimic or enhance the effects of natural cannabinoids, often used in research or medical settings.
  • Endocannabinoids, on the other hand, are crucial for maintaining internal balance, showcasing a harmonious interaction between external cannabinoids and our body’s intrinsic system.

Our exploration today has unraveled a complex and captivating narrative of the cannabinoid realm, each category contributing to a broader understanding of their potential benefits and applications in wellness and medicine.

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