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What are Cannabinoids?

A cannabinoid is a chemical substance that acts on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Once activated, these receptors alter the effects of a variety of neurotransmitters. These chemicals are what give marijuana it’s medicinal benefits. Three types of cannabinoids trigger the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. They include:

Endocannabinoids which are naturally produced within each person’s body.

Phytocannabinoids that come from the cannabis plant.

Synthetic cannabinoids which are manufactured in laboratories.

Marijuana contains more than 113 different cannabinoids. Here, we will discuss some of the most popular and well-known cannabinoids that are contained in medical marijuana.

THC Cannabinoid

1. THC

THC is the abbreviation for the cannabinoid known as Delta (9) – tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the primary component of cannabis that causes its psychoactive effects. In other words, it is what creates the ‘high’ feeling that many who ingest the drug experience. Aside from psychoactive effects, THC has an array of medicinal benefits for different conditions. These include:

Alzheimer’s disease

Crohn’s Disease

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Multiple Sclerosis



Parkinson’s disease

THC’s benefits, however, are not limited to these ailments. Research is continuously to uncovering more and more symptoms and conditions helped by THC.

CBD Cannabinoid

2.    CBD  

CBD is short for cannabidiol. Over the years, the list of diseases that CBD has provided benefits towards has continued to lengthen. CBD, unlike THC, is not psychoactive; it does not result in a subjective feeling of euphoria or of being high. People have used CBD for the treatment of the following conditions:


Chronic pain

Epilepsy – although scientific proof is currently lacking on how CBD benefits people living with epilepsy.

Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia




Again, these are not the only ailments CBD has proven to be beneficial towards. The effectiveness of CBD treatment is continuing to be discovered.

CBC Cannabinoid

3.    CBC

CBC is not as well-known as its predecessors THC and CBD. In full, this cannabinoid is known as cannabichromene. Overall, it is the third most common cannabinoid found in marijuana. Some strains of cannabis may even have a higher content of CBC than CBD. It is also non-psychoactive. This cannabinoid has the following properties.

  • It is anti-inflammatory. CBC is highly effective in the reduction of swelling from many different causes. A study conducted in 20104, however, noted that CBC’s anti-inflammatory properties work best on an individual when the cannabinoid’s administration is combined with THC. The results of this research also contributed to the idea that cannabinoids work best when combined.
  • It fights off tumors. When CBC is used together with THC and CBD, it has shown potential in combating breast cancer. The effects of CBC on cancer cells may not be as powerful as those from CBD and THC, but they are beneficial when combined with other cannabinoids for a more focused effect.
  • CBC has been shown to be an anti-depressant. The University of Mississippi found that mice experience an elevated mood once they ingest CBC. In an experiment, mice were hung by their tails to observe how much they struggled to escape. The more the rodents fight, the more elevated their mood. In their experiment, the students found that mice that had CBC administered to them struggled more than mice that had been treated with other cannabinoids. The students also discovered that the mice’s mood elevation also increased with higher doses of CBC.
  • It has anti-fungal properties. Ethan Russo has noted through his cannabinoid literature that CBC has a mild effect on fighting off fungal infections.
  • It encourages brain growth. CBC has been observed to spur growth in brain cells regardless of a person’s age. This occurs through a process called neurogenesis. The parts of the brain that can undergo neurogenesis play a key role in memory and learning. Once new brain cells cease to develop in these areas, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases. The findings that CBC can contribute to brain growth were explained in a study conducted in 2013.

 CBN Cannabinoid

4.    CBN

CBN, or cannabinol, is formed when THC breaks down over time. Exposing cannabis to air for a long period of time usually results in the development of high levels of CBN. Cannabinol also has medicinal properties. These include:

  • Increased appetite. A UK study disocvered that mice treated with this cannabinoid ate more than those treated with other cannabinoids such as CBC and CBG.
  • It has antibiotic properties. A team of Italian researchers identified CBN as being able to combat MRSA infections that resisted conventional antibiotics.
  • It has the potential to treat ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A 2005 study found that CBN caused a delay in the onset of symptoms within laboratory mice that had been genetically designed to have a rodent version of ALS. 
  • It is pain-relieving. CBN fights pain by initiating the production of endorphins and relaxing blood vessels. Swedish researchers published their results in 2002 that identified CBN’s pain-relieving properties. Notably, only THC uses the same format to treat pain.
  • CBN is anti-asthmatic. Research findings from 2003 show that CBN stopped asthma stemming from allergies in mice. It is thought that CBN strengthened the mice’s immune systems. It also caused a reduction in inflammation stemming from asthma attacks.
  • It is a sedative. Research conducted by Steep Hill Labs based in Berkeley has noted that CBN might have the most intense sedative properties among all cannabinoids. A good dose of CBN can in fact be equal to 2.5 to 5 mg of valium.
  • CBN has the potential to treat glaucoma. CBN combined with THC provided positive results in the reduction of ocular pressure in glaucoma patients. This is the pressure that usually causes blindness.

This is just a snapshot of the many cannabinoids found in medical marijuana. Some of the others include CBG, THCv, CBDv and Delta (8) – THC, for example.

If you have any questions about cannabinoids, medical marijuana, or their effects, please contact us.

Do you have any questions about Cannabinoids? Please visit Island Cannabis for more information.