Some of the most exciting findings in recent years have been the discovery of the many different compounds found inside of the cannabis plant, and the different effects each compound can have on the end user. These are known as cannabinoids.
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol or (THC) is the most widely known compound in the cannabis plant, and it is responsible for many of the effects experienced by the cannabis user such as:
• Mild to moderate pain relief
• Appetite stimulation
• Relief from insomnia
• Anti-depressant effects
All cannabis, whether it is industrial hemp, or the drug marijuana, contains at least some THC. But industrial hemp cannabis contains such a tiny amount of THC that it cannot get a user “High”.
The dried flower tops of the female cannabis plant however can contain as high as 25% THC, creating a mind altering psychoactive experience for the user.
THC though, in high amounts, can at times cause paranoia-like symptoms in users and therefore it is sometimes recommended to try strains with a lower THC level, and a higher amount of other compounds, such as CBD. Patients with a pre-disposition to schizophrenia and anxiety disorders should avoid cannabis with high-THC levels.
CBD, or Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid found in Cannabis. It is a major constituent of the plant, representing up to 50% in its extracts. Medically, it has been shown to relieve anxiety, inflammation, convulsion, and nausea.
Amazingly, CBD has been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells
This has led to a recent explosion of interest in CBD amongst pharmaceutical companies, all trying to capitalize on the findings. In November 2007, it was reported that CBD reduces growth of aggressive human breast cancer cells and reduces their ability to grow and multiply. CBD has been found to also reduce muscle spasms and provide pain relief in patients.
CBD is often found in large quantities in hashish, or cannabis resin. Although in herbal cannabis, CBD is typically found in low amounts. CBD alone is not psychoactive, and therefore many patients are finding that by choosing a strain of cannabis that has lower levels of THC, and higher levels of CBD, they are more relaxed, and do not experience and paranoia or anxiety like they may with high THC strains.
Users often report that CBD can postpone the initial high feeling that is normally felt almost instantly, but that strains with high CBD also tend to last longer than those without it.
Some of the popular strains that are high in CBD are “Sour Tsunami”, “Harlequin”, and “Cannatonic”. Because CBD has a calming effect and helps lower the anxiety that some users get from high THC strains it is one of the most helpful tips that a Budtender can explain to a medical marijuana patient.
Another compound commonly found in cannabis today is CBN, or “Cannabinol”.
CBN is produced as THC degrades or oxidizes. In fresh cannabis buds CBN only exists in small amounts, while it is found in higher amounts in Hashish. CBN is usually formed when THC is exposed to UV light and oxygen over time.
CBN generally makes a patient feel sleepy, disoriented, or “couch locked”. Medically, CBN’s primary effects are as an anti-epileptic, and for relief from ocular pressure for patients with glaucoma. CBN has a small amount of psychoactive properties, only about 10% of the strength of THC. Cannabinol has been found to reduce heart rate in users. But because CBN makes users feel groggy, many patients do not like strains with too much CBN in them.
CBN levels can be kept to a minimum by storing cannabis products in a cool, dark, airtight environment.
To learn more about cannabinoids and how they can help alleviate medical conditions, click here.