Natural and Therapeutic Chemicals in Weed

cannabis in a grinder

There are over 480 natural chemicals in weed, 86 of which are only found exclusively in the cannabis plant. These medicinal and psychoactive ingredients can work separately or together on cell receptors located throughout our body to achieve a healthy balance in your body. This network of cell receptors is known as the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system interacts with natural chemicals in our body known as endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids act on cannabinoid cell receptors in the body. The two major cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are typically located in the brain, while CB2 receptors can be found throughout the nervous system to aid our immune system. Chemical substances in cannabis like cannabinoids effect the way people react to different forms of cannabis.

What Are Cannabinoids?

There are more than 80 active cannabinoid compounds in cannabis that have different effects on cannabinoid receptors in the body. Unlike an Herbal Blend of naturally-occurring endocannabinoids, cannabinoids are secreted in the tiny resinous hair (trichomes) in the flowers, leaves, and stems of the cannabis plant. While They resemble endocannabinoids by mimicking their therapeutic effects on multiple biological functions.

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)

THCA is one of the most abundant non-psychoactive chemicals in weed. THCA can be found in raw cannabis that hasn't been heated or cured. Because it is a cannabinoid acid, it needs to be heated in order to convert to the psychoactive THC cannabinoid. THCA can be found in protein powders and tinctures to aid in tough workouts.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

Once THCA has been heated or "decarboxylzed" it converts to the psychoactive THC cannabinoid. Out of all the chemicals in weed, THC is the most mind-altering of them all. THC features similar effects to the endocannabinoid anandamide responsible for the elevated feelings of happiness and creativity.

When consumed, THC enters the bloodstream and interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain to stimulate the release of dopamine, a feel-good hormone.

CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)

CBDA is another type of chemical compound that can be consumed through raw cannabis. As a precursor to CBD, CBDA does not contain any psychoactive effects. Studies on CBDA prove that it's a powerful cancer cell inhibitor, not only by preventing the spread of these cells, but also reducing the inflammation in the affected areas. Reap all the health benefits and none of the cerebral experiences by consuming raw cannabis leaves, for example.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is the second most commonly found cannabinoid, but unlike its counterpart THC, it won't get you high. Found in an endless amount of products including pills, tinctures, salves, and pre-filled cartridges, CBD interacts with the brain and immune system to achieve homeostasis, or equilibrium of biological processes.

CBN (Cannabinol)

When THCA ages, it turns into CBNA and CBN when heated. That means that cannabis that's been stored poorly can degrade over time due to exposure to light, moisture, and oxygen. When you smoke this dry flower, you'll feel sleepy due to CBN's strong sedative effects.

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBGA is one of the most important cannabinoids mainly because it acts as a foundational building block of other cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA. CBGA converts to CBG, a non-hallucinogenic compound.

gloved hands hold marijuana nug in plastic bag

CBC (Cannabichromene)

Descendant from CBGA, CBCA converts into CBC after exposure to heat. CBC has an extensive range of therapeutic benefits including antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects. One study showed that CBC compounds reduced inflammation in the intestinal tract associated with diarrhea.

What Are Terpenes?

There are over 140 different terpenes found in the cannabis plant and thousands more found across the plant kingdom. These essential oils are secreted from the trichomes resin glands and emit a unique aromatic profile. Patients and recreational users can reap the medicinal effects by smoking or vaporizing terpenes. Every terpene contains different effects.

What Are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids may only comprise about 10 percent of the chemicals in weed, but play a huge role in the cannabis plant. Flavonoids are responsible for the aroma and flavor of your favorite strain. Not only that, flavonoids give strains their non-green pigmentation, all while protecting the plant from UV rays and common plant diseases like pests and fungi. Flavonoids are also found in fruits and vegetables, although one group, cannaflavins, are only found in marijuana.

 

Why Buy Whole-Plant Cannabis?

So far, we've discussed how chemicals in weed affect our system independently of each other. Research suggests that consuming the whole-plant cannabis is far more efficient. Whole-plant cannabis refers to the synergistic effect experience when multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids interact with each other.

The complementary therapeutic function of these chemical compounds is also referred to as "the entourage effect." For example, studies have shown that patients who suffer from anxiety disorders have a greater chance of exhibiting paranoia from marijuana that contains high levels of THC. Taking CBD along with THC not only amplifies the therapeutic effects of cannabis but also reduces the negative side effects like paranoia and anxiety. Flavonoids and terpenes are also thought to mitigate the psychoactive properties of THC.

Although some people may not be want to delve into the hallucinogenic experience associated with THC, there are many advantages to pairing isolated extracts like CBD with its psychoactive counterpart, THC. The natural and therapeutic chemicals in weed, including terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, all affect different areas in the body which makes their therapeutic qualities increase dramatically.


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Fred Hernandez
Fred Hernandez is a comedy and cannabis writer from San Diego, CA. He has helped agencies, businesses, and publications craft clever, concise, and captivating copy geared for their target audiences. As a cannabis content writer, he hopes to educate and entertain people with content about the cannabis industry. When he's not writing cannabis articles, he's reading novels, planning his next trip abroad, and writing music.