Effects of Cannabinoids
Effects of common cannabinoid acids & cannabinoids
Numerous research studies, research meta-analyses, and research reviews including those conducted by the The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine as well as the World Health Organization have acknowledged the therapeutic and medicinal value of cannabis. Though there are varying levels of evidence for many therapeutic applications of cannabis (ranging from conclusive or substantial, to moderate, to limited or preliminary), whole cannabis and isolated cannabinoid research is a dynamic field.
Below is a summary of general cannabis research highlights, often including whole flower or full spectrum cannabis. For specific information on each cannabinoid, please visit our cannabinoid pages.
- most commonly cited usage for chronic pain, in some studies reducing prescription opioid use by patients who had chronic pain by 64% - pain reduction is often associated with better sleep quality, hence improved sleep https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27001005
- headache disorders including migraine and cluster headache - anandamide for migraine reduction https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26015168
- analgesic effects & pain inhibition: (mechanisms of the analgesic effect of cannabinoids include inhibition of the release of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides from presynaptic nerve endings) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30542280
- reduction of neural inflammation
- “Cannabinoids have demonstrated the ability to block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms that promote pain in headache, fibromyalgia, IBS and related disorders”.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15159679/ & https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5576607/
- stress and motion sickness in humans are associated with impaired endocannabinoid activity. Enhancing ECS signaling may represent an alternative therapeutic strategy for motion sickness in individuals who do not respond to currently available treatments. (“Blood anandamide levels had dropped significantly in volunteers with motion sickness but increased in participants without the condition resulting in significantly higher anandamide levels in participants without motion sickness”). Motion sickness downregulates CB1 receptor expression - upregulation may prove beneficial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873996/
- neuropathic pain, and certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis have substantial evidence supporting cannabinoid efficacy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26912385
- oral cannabis extract (full spectrum, undefined cannabinoid profile): multiple sclerosis patient-reported symptoms of spasticity https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/07853890.2016.1145794
- post-traumatic head injury and related pain, concussion related symptoms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6122691/
- Weight loss: Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body Mass Index and Obesity Rates in Cannabis Users (2018)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6340377/
- Hemp: therapeutic & medicinal varieties:
- Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) is the “parent” or main precursor molecule to several other cannabinoids, including CBDA THCA, CBCA. This conversion process occurs naturally through photosynthesis as the cannabis plant grows and matures.
- Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that binds to the CB2 receptor though it has shown to have indirect effects also.
- In early stage research, CBG has show some beneficial impact on glaucoma and IBS - Research in humans is still ongoing and no conclusive research findings have yet been reached
- cannabinoids which bind to CB2 have implications for lymph and immune tissues, yet also proving to be an important mediators in suppressing both pain and inflammatory processes.
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid acid found in raw, living, cannabis plants. It is the precursor to the psychoactive THC cannabinoid and converts to the THC form when heat stressed, aged, or intentionally decarboxylated to activate maximum levels of THC. (see references)
- while more research remains to be done as to the therapeutic value of THCA, preclinical studies have found this cannabinoid to have beneficial effects on the endocannabinoid system, some of which include anti-spasmodic effects, anticonvulsant effects, anti-insomnia effects.
- THCA tends to be one of the most abundantly found cannabinoids in raw (non-decarboxylated) Cannabis products (cannabis flowers and some concentrates).
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid most commonly known as delta 9 THC, is the by-product of heating THCA. It is one of the major cannabinoids derived from cannabis, though its synthetic version has also been synthesized by pharmaceutical companies for use in medications. Delta 9 THC is best known for its psychoactive effects, acting primarily on the CB1 receptors to induce anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) synthesis creating euphoria. (see references)
- THC has been shown to stimulate appetite, has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- has been shown effective in enhancing libido & sex drive
- THC has been shown to ease a range of symptoms even when used at low doses of 5mg, without causing significant intoxication, including: pain, nausea, insomnia
- an oral spray of a whole cannabis plant extract with a 1:1 ratio of THC to cannabidiol (CBD) was initially licensed and approved in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Canada for the treatment of pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV), a lesser known cannabinoid, produced from cannabidivaric acid (CBVA)
- Early stage research is demonstrating some evidence for its application in autism spectrum disorder
- It is also being investigated for potential anticonvulsant properties
- Cannabidiol Acid (CBDA) is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid acid found in living cannabis plants and is also the precursor to cannabidiol (CBD). When heated or decarboxylated, CBDA breaks down from its acid form into CBD though this degradation process also occurs naturally after harvesting, due to aging and heat exposure, as the acid group of the CBDA breaks down leaving behind “activated” CBD.
- Early stage research has found CBDA to have anti-nausea potential though additional research is needed.
- human research is in early stages though animal research is promising
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a well researched, non-psychoactive cannabinoid resulting from CBDA degradation, known for its confirmed therapeutic and medical effects. According to most research, CBD has a low affinity (interaction rate) with CB1 or CB2 receptors, yet has shown to be effective in reducing inflammation. CBD also interacts with G‐protein coupled receptors (GPR55) and Peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptors (PPARs) in order to generate therapeutic effects.
Current research is also examining the mechanisms by which CBD reduces or inhibits the psychoactive effects of THC on CB1 receptors. Researchers are also trying to understand the processes behind CBD’s mood enhancing effects, that are best noted in individuals affected by anxiety, depression, inflammation. (see references)
- has shown to diminish the psychoactive effects of THC especially in treatments where higher dosage of THC were needed.
- doses from 10mg - 600mg and higher (per day) have been studied for sleep problems, anxiety, depression, stress, and other conditions.
- stress reduction caused by public speaking
- recognized as having anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (which contributes to a reduction of symptoms in autoimmune diseases, chronic pain and depression).
- CBD has shown neuroprotective effects (inhibiting some forms of neurotoxicity) and displays antioxidant activity greater than ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or tocopherol (vitamin E)
- shows promise in application for conditions related to endocannabinoid overactivity: obesity, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular issues
- Depending on the treatment and specific condition being treated, it may be advantageous to combine CBD with THC and additional cannabinoids for improved efficacy (synergistic effect of cannabinoids, entourage effect).
- CBD has show to be effective for some symptoms in doses as low as 10mg though efficacy can vary depending specific need (symptom), severity, and user’s body mass.
- helpful with conditions linked to endocannabinoid deficits, such as: anorexia, migraines, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain ~ hence emerging theory of endocannabinoid deficiency.
- demonstrated efficacy in treating neuropathic pain, inflammation
CBD helps to balance the sleep-wake cycle, which can result in improved sleep quality, especially if sleeplessness is caused by excess anxiety or excess activation of the central nervous system. CBD impacts serotonin & GABA receptors (note that sleeplessness & sleep disorders can have underlying causes other than anxiety)
in smaller doses, CBD may improve daytime alertness which is linked to a healthy sleep-wake cycle (also reducing excess agitation, anxiety)
- has shown to reduce symptoms of social anxiety in humans (Social Anxiety Disorder)
- CBD administered over 3 months to improve cognitive function, successfully, also counteracting some negative impact of excessively high, chronic THC intake (MIND Lab)
- “...suggests CBD as a therapeutic candidate for stroke prevention by exerting favorable augmentation of the homeostatic effects of the ECS and, in turn, improving the metabolic syndrome, while simultaneously stalling the development of atherosclerosis…” https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2017.0033
- Cannabichromene (CBC) is a prevalent cannabinoid that is showing significant potential in terms of antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-acne properties.
- In early phase research in mammals, CBC has also shown to have tumor inhibiting ability. CBC is non-psychoactive (non-euphoriant), does not affect the psychoactivity levels of THC (as CBD can), and similarly to CBD, it binds poorly to CB1 and CB2 receptors.
- Cannabinol (CBN) is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is primarily the product of THC degradation or break down (oxidation, aged flower).
- CBN been shown to induce sleep and binds primarily to the CB2 receptor and slightly to CB1 receptor. CB2, while commonly reported to have implications for lymph and immune tissues, is also proving to be an important mediator for suppressing both pain and inflammatory processes.
- CBN in combination with THC, results in a greater synergistic sedating effect than that of either CBN or THC alone. Early stage research also shows CBN to have anti-inflammatory properties.