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The different types of cannabinoids

on August 06, 2020
different types of cannabinoids



With this huge surge of popularity of CBD oil as a natural treatment and remedy for a wide variety of health conditions and ailments also comes a new stream of information about the numerous health benefits associated with other cannabinoids.

Most people are aware of the health benefits derived from CBD oil and CBD-infused products, though not enough people are informed about other cannabinoids that also possess health benefits.

Cannabinoids such as THC, CBG, CBN, CBC and THCV offer tremendous healing and therapeutic benefits that have been scientifically proven to work wonders for those suffering from chronic pain, epilepsy and certain mental conditions.

Considering that their full-spectrum properties work best synergistically, as opposed to individually, it’s super important to understand the ways that these different compounds work together.

The three main cannabinoids that we will discuss in this article are cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG). Although the research is still in its infancy, the results have proved to be quite promising.

Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol (CBN) is produced when tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is exposed to either heat or oxygen. CBN doesn’t bind like THC does, which results in the activation of both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

With its active content in the cannabis plant being less than 1 percent, on average, CBN is not the most abundant cannabinoid; it’s also nonpsychoactive, so it doesn’t produce the euphoric high most commonly associated with the THC compound.

There are numerous health benefits derived from CBN. The best-known currently is bone regeneration: It causes the employment of mesenchymal stem cells that surround the bone marrow.

These stem cells are capable of turning into bone and other similar tissues, thus making CBN a potential candidate for helping to heal broken and fractured bones.

CBN also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties that have been effective in helping to heal severe rashes and skin burns. In its most preliminary stages, research has demonstrated that CBN has worked very well as a natural sedative and has even been proven to be just as effective as many pharmaceutical sedatives without that “drugged-out” effect.

Scientists who are currently studying the effects of CBN as a possible sleep aid also have looked into using it as a substitute for appetite stimulation and anti-convulsive agents for those dealing with epileptic seizures.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) has a chemical makeup that is very similar to that of THC; however, THCV has a different effect on the body. Both THCV and THC are psychoactive compounds, and they both induce an intoxicating effect when consumed.

THCV also binds to the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, as THC does, but it doesn’t activate them like THC. At increased doses, THCV is capable of activating the CB1 receptor, which then produces a psychoactive high.

THCV's psychoactive effects appear more quickly than those of THC but they tend to fade out faster as well. Those who have consumed THCV claim to have a more clear-headed high than with THC, which made them drowsier and spaced out.

Because of THCV’s anticonvulsive properties, which can potentially heighten the threshold for those who have been diagnosed with a form of epilepsy or experience chronic seizures, consuming THCV can help to reduce the frequency of seizures.

Scientists also are studying THCV’s potential as a treatment for bone loss or osteoporosis due to its innate ability to stimulate bone growth. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a very common psychiatric disorder experienced by millions of people from all walks of life.

The mentally healing properties accompanied by THCV have been proven to counteract the symptoms associated with PTSD, including insomnia, night terrors, depression and social anxiety.

More evidence of this is being revealed throughout various research and experiments currently taking place.

Along with bone regeneration and other significant effects that come with consuming THCV, it also contributes greatly to the reduction of tremors, improves motor control and even lessens the effects of brain lesions caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

For those in need of a change in their diet, THCV has been used become it blocks the reward sensation in the brain associated primarily when eating comforting, unhealthy foods. It’s been theorized that if we don’t associate the sense of pleasure with eating certain unhealthy foods (i.e., bread, sugar, fried food, etc.), then we won’t develop as many cravings and, therefore, may be more willing and open to eating healthy.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

Like CBN and unlike THC or THCV, cannabigerol (CBG) does not have an intoxicating effect. CBG is produced when the cannabis plant produces cannabigerol acid (CBGA) and specific enzymes break the CBGA down into two acidic forms, which are CBD and THC.

From there, the CBD and THC take shape once the acid burns off during the decarboxylation process. This ultimately results in what we now as CBG. Through raising the anandamide levels — an endocannabinoid that our body naturally produces to regulate biological functions such as sleep, appetite and memory — CBG binds to specific cells in the body that can be highly beneficial in terms of bone healing and formation.

According to a published study, age-related osteoporosis is primarily characterized by reduced bone formation in the body and accumulation of fatty tissue in the bone marrow compartment.

Added fat in the bone marrow can be very dangerous and can result in a significant decrease in bone growth and regeneration. Here, it’s been reported that the type 1 cannabinoid receptor, or CB1, is the main factor that regulates the process of bone regeneration.

CBG, CBC and CBD all have been shown to slow the progression and growth of certain dangerous cells. Another little-known fact: CBG has been shown to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which makes it an excellent candidate for various antifungal and antibacterial treatments.

Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA), a common bacteria strain that is resistant to antibiotics, is not resistant to CBG, which can be an effective treatment in fighting the spreading bacteria.

Lastly, CBG shows pretty promising results in treating glaucoma, overactive bladder disorder, anxiety, depression and psoriasis along with its many neuroprotective effects.

There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of researching and developing new and improved ways that these compounds can be used to our benefit.


If you’re just starting to explore the wide array of hemp-derived products currently available in the market, you might not realize that there’s a lot more to the world of CBD than meets the eye.

You’re likely familiar with CBD itself—the cannabis-derived compound that has exploded in popularity in recent years. Doctors and scientists have discovered that CBD can be used to help manage conditions including inflammation, nausea, epileptic seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, chronic pain and more all without any psychoactive effects.

But did you know that there are many more substances within the same family of chemical compounds (collectively known as cannabinoids), each with unique and beneficial properties?

Read on to learn more about the differences between six common and well-researched varieties of cannabinoids—CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBG, CBC and CBDV—as well as the specific applications for each one.

First Things First, What Are Cannabinoids?

 If you’re new to the world of CBD, you might be feeling confused by the list of acronyms above. So, let’s start with a simpler question: what is a cannabinoid? First discovered in Israel in the 1960s, cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds derived from the cannabis plant.

These compounds are responsible for the many medicinal effects of cannabis, with each compound offering distinctive properties and benefits. To date, scientists have discovered more than 110 cannabinoids; more are likely to be found as we continue to explore the complex molecular structures of the cannabis plant.

How Does Your Body Use Cannabinoids?

Your body responds to every cannabinoid compound differently thanks to a remarkable built-in mechanism: the endocannabinoid system. This complex system is made up of receptors scattered throughout the body, which regulate health and homeostasis.

The receptors have been identified in nearly every major organ system, from the brain and spinal cord to the gastrointestinal tract. CB1 receptors are associated most closely with the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are linked to the immune system.

These receptors, along with enzymes that aid in clean up after many endocannabinoid system processes, help our bodies maintain a stable internal environment. When activated by exposure to cannabinoids, the receptors of the endocannabinoid system become reactive.

This means they’re able to affect key body processes including mood, memory, appetite, and pain.

The specific effects of cannabis-derived products depend on the particular compound used and the location of the receptors that bind with that compound; we’ll look more closely at the receptor-cannabinoid interactions of various CBD compounds in the sections below. Interested in learning more?

Take a deeper dive into the endocannabinoid system before reading on to explore six of the most common cannabinoid compounds.

What is CBD?

The most familiar of the cannabinoids is CBD, an abbreviation that’s short for cannabidiol. Unlike THC, the other well-known compound derived from cannabis, CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects.

That means you can use it for medicinal purposes without getting high, so it’s safe to utilize even when you’re planning to work or drive.

CBD is also an extremely adaptable compound, so it can be transformed into oils, gummies, pills, creams and more to suit various therapeutic needs.

CBD is the best researched of the cannabinoid compounds, and its applications are exceptionally wide-ranging. Studies show that CBD can be used as a potential treatment for: 

  • Daily aches and pains (sports injuries, bumps and bruises, etc.) 
  • Chronic pain 
  • Inflammatory conditions including arthritis 
  • Anxiety and panic disorders 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Seizures, epilepsy and convulsive disorders 
  • Depression
  • Menstrual pains 
  • Skin conditions including acne, rashes, and eczema

You might already be familiar with these common facts about CBD, but a group of closely related compounds has garnered attention from the scientific community as well. We’ll start with one that’s often considered a “cousin” to CBD: CBDA.

What is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic acid, generally abbreviated to CBDA, is a cannabinoid produced by the stems, leaves, and flowers of some cannabis plants. Through a process called decarboxylation, the acid is removed from CBDA, transforming it into CBD.

This process is most often performed by heating or smoking cannabis varieties that are high in CBDA. For this reason, CBDA is sometimes considered the “precursor” to CBD.

CBD and CBDA share similar molecular structures, so their therapeutic effects are also similar; however, CBDA has been the subject of less extensive scientific study.

Scientists have learned that CBDA works primarily as an inhibitor of the COX-2 enzyme within the endocannabinoid system, leading to an exploration of its effectiveness as a treatment for inflammation.

One final difference between CBD and CBDA arises in possible methods of consumption. Because CBDA is only found in raw hemp plants that haven’t been exposed to excessive heat or sunlight, it’s commonly extracted by juicing the plants; the juice can then be added to salads or other uncooked dishes for consumption.

Live resins, tinctures, and other non- activated extracts can also be sources of CBDA.

What is CBN?

CBN is the abbreviation for cannabinol, another compound within the cannabinoid family. In fact, CBN was the first cannabinoid isolated by scientists.

CBN is produced when THC is heated or exposed to oxygen; it also occurs naturally as the cannabis plant ages.

Even though CBN is derived from THC, it doesn’t share the psychoactive properties of THC (meaning you won’t get high from CBN alone). Within the endocannabinoid system, CBN binds to receptors less effectively than many other cannabinoids.

However, it has been studied extensively as a helpful compound to improve sleep health.

Scientists have discovered that CBN acts as a powerful sedative, with effects comparable to common sleep-inducing pharmaceuticals like diazepam.

In studies on mice, CBN has been shown to prolong sleep time; additional studies suggest that this effect is amplified when used in combination with THC.

Along with its implications for sleep health, CBN has been studied as a possible stimulant for bone tissue growth.

Research shows that it may activate stem cells that facilitate the production of new bone, making it potentially useful for the healing of fractures.

Additional studies have explored the analgesic, antibiotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory applications of CBN. However, CBN is not widely available as a supplement at this time.

What is CBG?

Like the other compounds in this overview, CBG (short for cannabigerol) is a non- psychoactive cannabinoid with a variety of promising medical applications.

CBG is actually the precursor to its more famous cousins, CBD and THC. Like CBDA, exposure to light or heat breaks down CBG in the cannabis plant into these better-known compounds.

Most strains of cannabis contain relatively little CBG, often less than 1%. However, that doesn’t mean this cannabinoid is any less promising when it comes to potential applications.

CBG interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system; during these interactions, it’s thought to naturally increase dopamine levels, which help to regulate sleep, mood, and appetite.

CBG is also thought to obstruct GABA uptake in the brain and block serotonin receptors—both positive implications for the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Studies have found CBG especially effective for certain physiological systems and symptoms, including:


Endocannabinoid receptors are highly concentrated in the structures of the eye, and CBG has been shown particularly effective at reducing the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.



 A study conducted in Europe revealed the antibiotic properties of CBG, discovering that it was effective in topical applications at combating Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains that are resistant to several classes of antibiotics. CBG has also been studied as a potential treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, nerve cell degeneration, appetite stimulation, and bladder dysfunction disorders.

What is CBC?

Discovered more than five decades ago, cannabichromene (abbreviated CBC) is considered one of the most promising cannabinoids in recent medical research. Like CBD and THC, CBC is derived from CBDA when the acid is broken down by exposure to heat or ultraviolet light.

Non-intoxicating like other CBD compounds, CBC is less well researched than some cannabis derivatives.

However, scientists have discovered a variety of potential applications for this cannabinoid.

Within the endocannabinoid system, CBC binds most effectively with vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1); both of these receptor types are linked to the body’s perception of pain.

This means that CBC may function as an alternative to traditional painkillers like NSAIDS but without their potentially harmful side effects.

CBC may be particularly effective for treating inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis, especially when used in combination with THC. 

Though research in this field is limited so far, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBC may also make it an effective acne treatment; studies suggest that it could work to prevent the sebaceous gland inflammation at the root of many types of acne.

While these therapeutic benefits overlap with many other cannabinoids, CBC is differentiated by what’s known as the “entourage effect.”

Researchers believe that CBC may work synergistically when used with other cannabinoids to provide even more effective treatments for many of the conditions outlined above.

What is CBDV?

Last in our roundup of cannabinoid compounds is cannabidivarin, better known as CBDV. CBDV is extremely similar to CBD on a molecular level, but recent research has shown its applications are exceptionally unique and valuable for people with neurological disorders.

Preliminary studies on mice show that CBDV has enormous untapped potential in the treatment of epilepsy and similar neurological conditions.

As an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic, CBDV may be able to help patients who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions in which seizures may occur.

Along with reducing the duration and intensity of seizures, CBDV could work to prevent convulsions in the event that a seizure does occur.

Early research on these applications for CBDV is so promising that GW Pharmaceuticals, a cannabis-focused European company, is working to patent the use of CBDV for the treatment of seizures.

Along with seizure treatment, CBDV may be used by patients who experience vomiting and nausea, especially when those conditions are caused by chemotherapy.

It has also been studied as an appetite suppressant, and as a treatment that relieves symptoms of Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Like all of the cannabinoids discussed above, CBDV is non-psychoactive.

How Do I Know Which Cannabinoid Works Best?

After more than a few acronyms starting with the letter “C,” you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed by our roundup of common cannabinoids.

You may also find yourself asking how you can find the CBD compound that’s right for you and your bodily needs.

The good news is, with so many cannabinoids to choose from, there’s likely one to address nearly any concern.

When narrowing down your choices to find the right cannabinoid, start with your symptoms.

For many common ailments including pain, inflammation, anxiety, mental health, sleep issues, eczema, acne, depression, stress, arthritis CBD is an option that’s effective and readily available in a wide variety of formats, from oils, balms, creams, gummies and pills.

If you’re considering cannabinoids as a treatment option for an uncommon or potentially life-threatening condition, start by talking to a doctor you trust.

They may have access to the groundbreaking research that’s conducted each year on hemp-derived compounds, from CBDA all the way to CBDV.  

Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Due to UK Regulation, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website; where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.


Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This disclaimer provides that all medical information is merely information – not advice. If users need medical advice, they should consult a doctor or other appropriate medical professional. The disclaimer also provides that no warranties are given in relation to the medical information supplied on the website, and that no liability will accrue to the website owner in the event that a user suffers loss as a result of reliance upon the information.

Due to UK Regulation, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products.