More Than THC: Other Cannabis Compounds and How They Help
Cannabis research has expanded significantly over the last decade. While the general population once thought it to be a dangerous or even harmful substance, we now know that it’s quite safe and can even be beneficial in many medical scenarios. Florida is one of 36 states in which medical marijuana is legal and available to those who have a valid medical marijuana card.
When most people consider cannabis and its effects on the body, they think of THC or, more specifically, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the psychoactive compound that creates many of the mental and physical effects commonly associated with cannabis. However, THC isn’t the only piece of the cannabis puzzle. There are several other compounds present in cannabis that perform important and unique functions.
When you are using cannabis for medical purposes, it’s especially important to understand what these substances will do for you. This can help you to tailor your choices to your unique needs when shopping for cannabis products. What’s more, this kind of understanding empowers you to take control of your health plan.
Aside from THC, CBD is perhaps the most well-known cannabis compound. In fact, federal law now allows CBD to be sold, even if cannabis is not yet legal on the federal level. CBD is great for medical applications because it does not come with any of the psychoactive responses that THC is famous for.
CBD is a powerhouse when it comes to pain management and stress relief. Patients often use either CBD-only or high-level CBD cannabis products if they struggle with anxiety, inflammation or pain, and insomnia. CBD has an overall calming effect on the body, which can help with both physical and mental symptoms of a variety of diseases.
Though CBD may seem like a new trend, it was first isolated from the cannabis plant in 1940. Researchers have studied how CBD affects the body for many decades (albeit in-vivo studies are lacking), making its use quite safe and well backed up by science. In fact, some prescription epilepsy medications contain CBD, as it has shown to mitigate seizures, even for those with intractable epilepsy.
The cliche “mother knows best” really applies to the CBG cannabis compound; this is because as cannabis grows and matures, CBG turns into THC and CBD. The “mother” compound does have some unique uses all its own, so long as it can be isolated and extracted before it’s naturally converted into other compounds.
CBG is often associated with gut health. It can help to relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and types of colorectal cancers. In some studies, it’s even shown promise in slowing the growth of cancer. It’s important to note that these studies have been done mostly in animals, meaning it’s not possible to make a definitive claim about cancer in humans.
As it turns out, fresh cannabis isn’t always best. The compound cannabinol (CBN) isn’t found in fresh cannabis flower because it occurs with THC oxidation. This means if you want this particular compound, you can leave some flower exposed to open air.
CBN research thus far is focused on sleep; if you’re suffering from insomnia, this compound may be incredibly beneficial. It also appears to have some antibacterial properties and can help to encourage an appetite. This can be helpful for individuals going through chemotherapy and radiation, who often feel too nauseated to eat.
CBC is a little-known cannabinoid. Despite its lack of fame, CBC provides some truly unique benefits that other cannabis compounds do not – this cannabinoid in particular appears to help with acne issues. There are also studies that suggest that CBC could help with migraines, as well as the standard anti-inflammatory properties of many CBD compounds.
It’s important to understand how these compounds react with our bodies and why they are so effective at solving certain issues. Within the central nervous system, there is a group of receptors that control or affect a variety of different functions. These are called cannabinoid receptors. When you ingest cannabis, the marijuana compounds in the plant (or oil, or edible) bind to your body’s cannabinoid receptors, and this union is what creates your body’s response to cannabis.
These receptors make up the endocannabinoid system, which operates within the central nervous system to help control things such as:
- Pain perception
- Learning ability
CB1 receptors focus on the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors deal with the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system regulates pain and inflammation, while the peripheral nervous system influences certain parts of the immune system.
Because your nervous system controls everything your body does and feels, the effects of cannabis are often profound
The Forms Of THC
Though the above compounds are incredibly important when it comes to mindful medical marijuana consumption, it’s also important to understand that THC plays an essential role. There is a reason it is so strongly associated with cannabis, after all.
We discussed the body’s cannabinoid receptors and the ways that they allow your body to absorb cannabis compounds and reap their benefits. However, this wouldn’t be possible without THC. THC binds to your body’s receptors very strongly, while CBD has a more difficult time. In fact, CBD binds incredibly weakly, if at all.
Some CBD products include very small amounts of THC for this very purpose. Though the low levels of the latter will not produce a psychoactive effect, it helps to make sure the CBD does its job. If you are taking CBD for a medical condition such as anxiety, inflammation, or insomnia, it’s important to understand that you may need a small bit of THC in your products for them to work at the highest level.
Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or Delta-8-THC, is becoming a more popular option. This is because it’s legal (albeit in a very gray area) under the federal government. As a byproduct of hemp, Delta-8 can give you some psychoactive effects, though less intense than those of Delta-9 THC, and without the same restrictions.
Please note that the effects are not as intense nor as long, which means that Delta-8 isn’t always a great option for medical marijuana users. This depends on your unique needs and desired outcomes.
As a form of THC, THCv helps with a lot of the same issues that other THC products help with, such as anxiety relief, Epilepsy, and even Parkinson’s. Many are devote to this minor cannabinoid, though, because unlike some other cannabis compounds, THCv suppresses the appetite rather than stimulates it.
Appetite stimulation may be necessary for some individuals, such as those in cancer treatments. However, it may simply be a side effect for others and can even create issues with overeating and weight gain. THCv eliminates this by suppressing the appetite, which can be a necessary benefit for some medical marijuana users.
The Cannabis Heating Process
Cannabis molecules can be incredibly beneficial to the body in a variety of ways, but they can’t do their job without first being heated. This is because raw cannabis resin has an extra carboxyl molecule that impedes the cannabinoid receptor binding process, so no benefits can be felt while it’s present. In fact, THC isn’t predominant until after the cannabis is heated, at which time THCA is converted to THC.
All of the ways to ingest medical marijuana involve heating of some kind. When you smoke cannabis flower, you heat it with the flame. Making edibles involves first decarbing the flower and then creating an infused cannabis butter or carrier oil that can be used in the recipe. This process “activates” the THC compounds. Vapes use electric heating elements to carry out this heating process at a closely controlled level. No matter how it’s applied, heat is a crucial step if the you’re seeking the cerebral effects of cannabis.
Enzymes And Cannabis Use
Though cannabis effects can last for quite some time, they do fade after a while. Depending on the quantity and type of cannabis product you ingest, the effects can wear off in an hour or two or last upwards of four or five hours.
When your body does begin to rid itself of the cannabinoid compounds, it’s thanks to your body’s enzymes. Hydrolase and Monoacylglycerol Acid Lipase are the two enzymes responsible for the breakdown.
It’s important to note that there’s no way to “sober up” from a cannabis experience. In time, your body will naturally break down the endocannabinoids, but there is no reliable way to expedite the process. Some people feel anxious at a loss of control and actually become more tense when using cannabis. This is why it’s important to educate yourself before purchasing and ingesting medical marijuana products and to experiment slowly – and have CBD tincture handy. CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system, disrupting THC’s binding and mitigating some of the psychoactivity. Regardless, cannabis, when used responsibly, can help you with just about any condition or disease you are coping with. It should never make you more anxious or upset with the right dose.
Cannabis Compounds And Muscular Disease
We’ve talked about how cannabis affects the central nervous system. Most individuals who have access to medical marijuana are not surprised by these benefits, as the psychoactive consequences of cannabis consumption are fairly obvious. However, it’s not just the nervous system that can be bolstered by cannabis.
Many people have access to medical marijuana because they have a disease that affects their motion and muscles. Individuals with Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis tend to use marijuana to reduce the level of physical activity that their bodies involuntarily partake in.
Cannabis has the capacity to relax the muscles of a patient with MS, while it can calm muscle spasms in those with Parkinson’s. Though this calming of the muscles may not be a cure for these diseases, it can help to manage the symptoms and provide a better quality of life for those who are suffering.
Cannabis And Mental Health
Mental health issues and diseases are valid reasons to issue a medical marijuana card in many states. This isn’t always the case or the best route of treatment, but cannabis has shown to improve depression and anxiety.
Studies show that cannabis can have a positive effect on individuals who suffer from severe anxiety. Cannabis can help to reduce the need for pharmacological medicines, and patients often see improved symptoms and better cognitive skills.
Many patients also saw improved sleep when using marijuana, which improved mental health overall. One of the best treatments for anxiety and depression is an appropriate amount of sleep, between 7 and 8 hours for most adults. Unfortunately, sleep is often impossible for those experiencing mental illness episodes, which is where cannabis steps in. Though this does not necessarily signify that cannabis can treat these conditions, it does show that it can help with some of the major symptoms.
Depression is another issue. Though there is preliminary research into mood stabilization and stress-related depression management with cannabis, there is not enough evidence to conclude whether cannabis helps depression symptoms. Fortunately, there also is no significant evidence to conclude that cannabis causes or worsens depression symptoms.
What is fairly clear is that cannabis is not helpful for individuals with schizophrenia or similar mental health disorders. In fact, early cannabis use can trigger schizophrenia in individuals who are predisposed to the disease. Fortunately, the medical marijuana system ensures that individuals are vetted by a medical professional before being allowed to purchase medical marijuana. This helps mitigate the number of individuals who use cannabis but who are at risk for psychotic episodes.
Overall, medical marijuana and cannabinoid therapies can be helpful for individuals who suffer from mental illness. With the help of cannabinoid compounds, it’s easy to tailor one’s cannabis regimen to a specific symptom or illness. For mental health, products with CBD, CBC, and THCv compounds may offer unique benefits without the intense psychoactive experiences associated with THC.
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Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.