Cannabinoids and Their Effects: A Guide

My Personal Guide to the Major Cannabinoids and Their Effects on Us

As someone who’s interested in the world of cannabinoids, I’ve learned that these natural compounds are found in marijuana and hemp plants, both part of the Cannabis sativa family. It’s fascinating to think that cannabinoids were discovered in the 1940s, but we’ve actually been consuming them for thousands of years for various reasons, like medicine, spirituality, and recreation. Nowadays, more than two dozen states have laws allowing medical or recreational cannabis use.

This increased availability has led to more scientific research into the short and long-term effects of cannabinoids on our bodies. While the research is still in its early stages due to marijuana’s federal prohibition, I wanted to share some key things I’ve learned about the major cannabinoids in cannabis.

So, What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in cannabis plants. These compounds produce unique effects on cannabinoid cell receptors in our bodies. So far, researchers have identified 113 cannabinoids. You’ll find the highest concentration of cannabinoids in the trichomes, hair-like structures on cannabis flower buds that can appear white or amber-like. Cannabis stalks and leaves have fewer trichomes.

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

When we consume cannabinoids (by inhaling or ingesting), they enter our bloodstream and target a network of cannabinoid cell receptors called the endocannabinoid system. Interestingly, our bodies produce similar compounds called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. We produce six different endocannabinoids, with anandamide and 2-AG being the major ones. Endocannabinoid receptors are found in our brains, organs, immune cells, and connective tissue.

The endocannabinoid system consists of two receptor types: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly located in the brain, spine, reproductive systems, and the retina of the eye. CB2 receptors are primarily in our immune systems, particularly in the spleen, and some areas of the brain.

The purpose of our endocannabinoid system is to achieve homeostasis or a balance of metabolic processes. Our natural endocannabinoids can regulate our mood, appetite, memory, inflammation, pain sensitivity, movement, bone health, stress, and so much more. Cannabinoids can activate or deactivate cannabinoid receptors to fine-tune biological processes in our bodies, but there’s still more research to be done on their exact effects.

Major Cannabinoids and Their Effects

Here, I’ll share some details about the major cannabinoids found in cannabis, with boiling points from lab testing by Praxis Laboratory.

Cannabinoid Full Name Boiling Point Effects
311 to 315 °F
Euphoriant, Analgesic, Antiinflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiemetic
320 to 356 °F
Anxiolytic, Analgesic, Antipsychotic, Antiinflammatory, Antioxidant, Antispasmodic
365 °F
Antibacterial, Neuroprotectant, Appetite Stimulation
428 °F
Antiinflammatory, Antibiotic, Antifungal
428 °F
Antiinflammatory, Antibiotic, Antifungal

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC (∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a popular cannabinoid because of the euphoric effects it produces. Most cannabis strains are bred to have as much THC as possible, while hemp plants only contain trace amounts. THC binds to CB1 receptors in our brains and can affect:

  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Memory
  • Perception
  • Cognition
  • Boiling Point: 155 to 157 °C (311 to 315 °F)

CBD (Cannabidiol)

I love CBD for its non-psychotropic nature, meaning it doesn’t cause mind-altering effects like the high from THC. Instead, CBD counteracts many side effects of THC, such as paranoia and anxiety. While CBD-rich cannabis strains exist, most strains have little CBD. Many CBD products come from industrial hemp due to its low THC concentration. People often use CBD to relieve pain, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve cancer prognosis, among other benefits.

Boiling Point: 160 to 180 °C (320 to 356 °F)

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN is rarer because it forms from THC degrading over time due to exposure to light, air, and moisture. Although you can preserve THC in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, it will eventually turn into CBN. CBN has more sedative properties than THC and offers pain relief and antibiotic characteristics.

Boiling Point: 185 °C (365 °F)

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBG won’t get you high, and mature plants contain no more than 1% CBG. Throughout a cannabis plant’s life, it produces lots of CBGA, the acidic parent of CBG and a precursor to major cannabinoids like THC and CBD. CBG has various medical uses, such as acting as a neuroprotectant, improving appetite, reducing inflammation, and working as an antibacterial agent.

Boiling Point: 428º F

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)

THCA is mainly present in raw cannabis and is non-psychotropic, so consuming raw cannabis won’t get you high. However, THCA does have some medical effects on inflammation, nausea, and neurodegenerative diseases. When cannabis is heated, THCA turns into THC through a process called decarboxylation.

Boiling Point: 220º F

CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)

CBDA, the acidic precursor of CBD, is found in raw cannabis and hemp plants. You can consume CBDA raw or as a tincture, topical, or capsule. It doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body but works by inhibiting certain enzymes and promoting serotonin production. CBDA is known to help with inflammation, nausea, vomiting, and psychosis.

Boiling Point: 248º F

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

THCV isn’t usually found in large amounts, although African landrace strain Durban Poison has slightly higher levels. Research on THCV is limited, but some studies suggest it has a stronger psychoactive effect than THC, though shorter-lasting. Other studies show THCV can mitigate many intoxicating effects of THC.

Boiling Point: 428º F

CBDV (Cannabidivarin)

CBDV has a similar structure to CBD and is also non-intoxicating. It isn’t typically found in cannabis strains but has shown promising results in treating seizures for adults and children. Researchers are currently developing CBDV-based medications.

Boiling Point: 356º F

∆8-THC (∆8 Tetrahydrocannabinol)

∆8-THC grows in small amounts in cannabis plants, but breeders and extractors can produce ∆8 THC concentrates. It’s not as potent as THC, but research indicates it has anti-cancer, antiemetic, and appetite-stimulating properties.

Boiling Point: 175 to 178 °C (347 to 352 °F)

CBC (Cannabichromene)

CBC is non-intoxicating and appears to work in conjunction with THC. It binds with vanilloid receptor 1 and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1, both receptors associated with pain sensitivity. Essentially, CBC can amplify the therapeutic effects of many other cannabinoids.

Boiling Point: 220 °C (428 °F)

It’s important to remember that cannabinoids are just one class of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Other compounds, like terpenes and flavonoids, are present in smaller quantities but contribute to the aroma and taste of the strain, respectively. All these compounds work together, although manufacturers can isolate certain compounds depending on user preferences. More research is needed on cannabinoids, but the initial results show that they have tremendous medical and recreational potential for many people.

Avatar photo

Harriett S. Miller

Meet Harriett S. Miller, the guy who never met a CBD strain he didn't like! He's been researching and experimenting with CBD for years, and it's safe to say he's a bit of an enthusiast. When he's not busy trying out new strains, you can find him scoping out the latest cannabis accessories and gadgets. Harriett is dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of CBD and helping people discover the perfect products to enhance their cannabis experience. He may be serious about his research, but he's always up for a good laugh (or a good puff).

Leave a Reply