While we typically associate cannabis with two cannabinoids (THC and CBD), there are dozens upon dozens of other, rarer, cannabinoids contained within each plant. So why don’t we hear more about these other chemical compounds? Their rarity. Most cannabis plants will contain only around 1% in mass of all the minor cannabinoids. In fact, this is why you don’t see isolates sold of CBN, CBDA, and CBG; they are too costly to isolate and sell at profit.
But, despite their low concentrations in cannabis, they do have potential benefits to bodily wellness and their positive effects can be understood with a little reading and curiosity. Shall we delve deeper into three of the more common of these rare cannabinoids?
CBN: THC Transformed
Our first cannabinoid is CBN, which is a compound that arises when THC is subjected to high heat or light for long periods of time. This transformation is why cannabis with high levels of CBN has usually undergone oxidation or aging. It goes from being THC-9 (C21H30O2) to CBN (C21H26O2) by losing four Hydrogen molecules.
But that sounds like a lot of confusing chemistry. What are the benefits of CBN and why should you care to know more about it? Before we continue to discuss the potential benefits and uses of CBN (in and out of the body), it needs to be understood that there is limited research on this compound. Only a handful of studies demonstrating CBN use in the human body have been published, and most current research focuses on its effects in mice (which, to these studies’ defense have remarkably similar nervous systems to humans. Who knew?)
The first use I want to focus on is the use of CBN as an antibacterial compound. In lab settings, CBN was tested on strains of MRSA bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibiotics. Researchers found it to be a potent antibacterial agent against these resistant strains. Perhaps in the future, we will see CBN used as a replacement for some antibiotic pairings.
It may also have uses as a neuroprotectant. In one rodent study, researchers used CBN as a treatment for ALS and found that it was able to delay the onset of the condition. While further studies need to be conducted to determine if this effect is also seen in humans, these findings suggest that CBN may provide a powerful tool in the fight against ALS and other neurodegenerative conditions.
In other rodent studies, CBN increased the amount of food that rat subjects ate, suggesting that it could be an effective appetite stimulant. Since some avoid THC (another well-known appetite stimulant) due to its intoxicating effects, CBN could potentially offer an alternative for those seeking benefit without the high—but more research is needed.
Likely the most common recent application of this specific compound, however, has been to address those sleepless nights that I’m sure we are all too familiar with. CBN has long been associated with drowsiness. In the world of hemp and cannabis, there is a quote from Steep Hill, a cannabis laboratory, that is frequently used when describing CBN’s sedative effects. They claimed that the consumption of 2.5mgs to 5mgs pf CBN had the same level of sedation as a mild sedative, with a relaxed body sensation. More research is needed and Green Wellness does not diagnose, prescribe, or treat, but the potential sleep benefits are simply too good to ignore. With CBN sleep gummies, tinctures, and even capsules with higher levels of CBN, if interested there are lots of mechanisms to potentially benefit from the compound.
CBG: Decarboxylated CBGA
The CBG cannabinoid originally stems from CBGA. After undergoing an oxidation process, it becomes CBG, a compound that can directly interact with the endocannabinoid system of the body.
One of the challenges of using CBG comes from the prohibitive cost of sourcing it. As a cannabis plant ages, more and more of the initial cannabinoids oxidize and turn into the common cannabinoids of CBD and THC. CBG, on the other hand, never comprises a significant proportion of the cannabinoids within a harvest of cannabis.
This being said, despite the cost, difficulties of sourcing, and insufficient human research, CBG has been found to interact with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, having a strong affinity for the CB2 receptor. These receptors regulate physiological processes such as mood, pain response, and appetite. More research is needed, however, as CBG appears to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors differently than either THC or CBD, producing unique physiological effects.
While there’s an abundance of awareness around the major cannabinoids THC and CBD, less is known about CBG. CBG shares some similarities with CBD: it seems to be anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. However, CBG also boasts its own unique set of properties, offering potential therapeutic benefits such as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and glaucoma in animal tests. I know I’m a broken record here, but, more research is needed (especially in humans).
CBDA: CBD’s Precursor
I think it is fair to say that, if you are a regular customer of ours, you know quite a good deal about CBD. Even if you don’t take it regularly, it seems that CBD has entered into the public consciousness these days (with many misunderstandings abounding). But where does CBD come from? The easy answer is the cannabis plant, which is mainly true. But were you aware that there is a chemical precursor to CBD? That precursor is CBDA.
So how does CBDA become CBD? With heat and time. Think of CBDA as the “raw” form of CBD. In fact, a lot of people will take CBDA in capsules, tinctures, and topicals to get that raw form into their daily diet. We’ve definitely got more options for CBDA than CBG or CBN. Green Wellness carries many CBDA products with brands like Endoca, Plus CBD, Entourage CBD, and Hemplucid. But what are the benefits of this?
Your CB1 and CB2 receptors are the primary nodes in your body for actively making use of CBD, both that which you take as a supplement and that which is naturally produced within your body. CBDA doesn’t work in this way. Instead, CBDA interacts with the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. COX-2 enzymes are associated with inflammation after an injury or infection. By blocking COX-2 enzymes, CBDA can relieve inflammation and associated pain.
In one rodent study, scientists found CBDA affected levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by nerve cells to aid in signaling between cells. Serotonin is vital to core human functions like motor skills, sleeping, eating, digestion, and emotions. However, excess serotonin, which often is associated with stressors like chemotherapy, can cause nausea and vomiting. Vomiting can be controlled with medications, but nausea is harder to treat. But do not despair yet if you are a chemo patient! Scientists have demonstrated that CBDA can affect the body’s 5-HT serotonin-producing receptors, hinting at a potential use for CBDA as a medication for chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting (CINV) and other conditions that induce these symptoms. However, more research is needed.
We will keep you updated!
One recurrent theme throughout this blog was that more research was needed. While THC and CBD are gaining popularity, and the institutional barriers to research using these compounds are removed, it is important to keep in mind that there is a lot that is either not understood or is poorly understood about cannabis in relation to the human body. We will try to keep you up to date on relevant and recent research so that you can make informed decisions and purchases, and we always invite you to get in touch with us with any questions that you may have.
As always, we hope that this was informative, and would love to hear from you on our social media accounts, our email, or on our phone lines. If you are ready to explore the world of CBD, give us a call at 888-772-7875, fill out an online contact form, or press the live chat button to speak with one of our experts.