Cannabinoids in Cannabis

Cannabinoids in Cannabis

Cannabinoids in Cannabis


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the cannabinoids receptors in the body and that have similar effects to those produced by Cannabis Sativa L. Prior to the discovery of the endocannabinod system, it was often speculated that cannabinoids interact with cell membranes but discovery of the first cannabinoid receptors in the 1980s resolved the ongoing debate.


Cannabinoid receptors


Cannabinoid receptors are present in all vertebrae, including mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and reptiles. At the time, there are two known types of cannabinoid receptors named CB1 and CB2 but there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that there may be more. Like opiates, cannabinoids affect the user by interacting with specific receptors, located within different parts of the central nervous system.


CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain, specifically in the limbic system, including striatum and hippocampus and in the basal ganglia. They are also found in both male and female reproductive systems, anterior eye and retina.


CB2 receptors are predominantly found in the immune system or immune-derived cells. In vitro and animal models suggest that they appear to be responsible for immunomodulatory and other therapeutic effects. While found only in the peripheral nervous system, reports indicate that CB2 is expressed by a subpopulation of microglia in the human cerebellum.




There are three types of cannabinoids:


  • Phytocannabinoids – ones found in plants, mostly in the Cannabis genus – 146 of them are known so far but there are 50 more found in other plants
  • Endocannabinoids – ones our bodies make on their own
  • Synthetic cannabinoids – lab made cannabinoids




Although most phytocannabinoids are found in Cannabis plants, they occur in several other plant species besides Cannabis like Radula marginata, Echinacea angustifolia, Helichrysum umbraculigerum, Acmella oleracea, and Echinacea purpurea.


New cannabinoids are constantly being identified and the current known number of them is 146, although a very small number of them has been well researched. Some of the cannabinoids show similar structures so they’ve been grouped and classified in classes as – Cannabichromenes, Cannabicyclols, Cannabidiols, Cannabielsoins, Cannabigerols, Cannabinols and Cannabinodiols, Cannabitriols, Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinols and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinols.


Some of the most abundant and well researched phytocannabinoids are:


THC, or delta-9-THC, is the most abundant and well-known cannabinoid present in cannabis and is responsible for cannabis’ most known psychoactive effects. THC is a mild painkiller or analgesic, stimulates appetite, reduces vomiting and nausea, suppresses muscle spasm and it also has antioxidant properties.


THCA is the main cannabinoid found in raw cannabis and a predecessor to THC. It has anti-inflammatory effects, reducing inflammation and also acts as an antiproliferative and antispasmodic, reducing seizures and convulsions and inhibiting cell growth in tumors/cancers.


CBDA, similar to THCA, is the main constituent in CBD rich or high CBD raw cannabis. It is a predecessor to CBD. CBDA selectively inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, contributing to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects, reducing inflammation and inhibiting tumor cell growth.


CBD is the second most researched and well-known cannabinoid. It acts as an antagonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors but it has a low binding affinity for both. This suggests that CBD’s mechanism of action is mediated by other receptors in the body and brain. CBD is known to reduce inflammation, offer pain relief, reduce vomiting and nausea, relieve anxiety, reduce seizures, suppress muscle spasms and promote bone growth.


CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is produced by degradation and oxidation of THC. There is usually very little to no CBN in a fresh raw cannabis plant but with time, especially if stored poorly, levels of CBN increase. It acts as a weak agonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBN is known to reduce pain, suppress muscle spasms and convulsions and aid sleep.


CBG, or more correctly it’s acidic version CBGA, is the originator for both THC(A) and CBD(A). Without CBG there would be no THC or CBD, although CBG itself is found in very small amounts in cannabis plants. Another non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBG is thought to kill or slow bacterial growth, inhibit cell growth in cancer and tumor cells, reduce inflammation and promote bone growth. It acts as a low-affinity antagonist at the CB1 receptor.


CBC is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid and is most frequently found in tropical cannabis strains. It is known to relieve pain, inhibit cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, reduce inflammation and promote bone growth.


THCV is another minor cannabinoid found in only certain strains of cannabis, most frequently in African landraces and their hybrids. It is very structurally similar to THC with an exception of presence of a propyl (3 carbon) group, instead of a pentyl (5 carbon) group, on the molecule. Though very similar in structure, their effects are quite different. THCV’s effects include a reduction in panic attacks, suppression of appetite and the promotion of bone growth. THCV acts as an antagonist at the CB1 receptor and a partial agonist at the CB2 receptor.




First to be identified and isolated was Anandamide, very pharmacologically similar to THC but different in structure. It binds to the CB1 receptor and, to a lesser extent, CB2, where it acts as a partial agonist. Anandamide is found in almost all tissues in a wide range of animals but is also found in plants and in smaller amounts in chocolate. Anandamide has also been found in human and bovine maternal milk.


The rest of endocannabinoids include – 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether (noladin ether), N-Arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA), Virodhamine (OAE) and Lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI).


Synthetic cannabinoids


At first, synthetic cannabinoids were based on the structure of naturally occuring phytocannabinoids but have since become a category of their own, no longer being related to natural cannabinoids or based on the structure of endocannabinoids. A large number of synthetic cannabinoids have been produced and tested, first by a group of scientists gathered around Roger Adams in the 1940’s and later in a group led by Raphael Mechoulam, often dubbed the father of cannabis research.


Since only phytocannabinoids found in Cannabis are regulated (and banned) by law, synthetic cannabinoids have found their way on both legal and illegal markets. Products like K2, Galaxy or Spice provide for similar experiences like consuming cannabis but, unlike cannabis, they can cause serious damage even death. Some countries like the UK have serious problems with synthetic cannabinoids, causing addiction and crime related to that addiction but almost all countries in which synthetic cannabinoids are sold have reported serious health issues and in most cases death. This has resulted in some countries banning synthetic cannabinoids but they can easily be found on the internet and illegal or “black” markets.


Here is the full list of cannabinoids found in Cannabis


*Cannabinoid Name* *Acronym*
1 Cannabigerovarin CBGV
2 Cannabigerovarinic acid CBGVA
3 Cannabigerol CBG
4 Cannabigerolic acid CBGA
5 Ο-Methlycannabigerol
6 Cannabigerolic acid methylether
7 Cannabinerolic acid
8 Cannabinerol
9 Carmagerol
10 rac-6′-Epoxycannabigerol
11 rac-6′-Epoxycannabigerolic acid
12 rac-6′-Epoxycannabinerol
13 rac-6′-Epoxycannabinerolic acid
14 γ-Eudesmyl cannabigerolate
15 γ-Cadinyl cannabigerolate
16 Sesquicannabigerol
17 Deprenyl Ο-methyl cannabigerolic acid (Amorfrutin 2)
18 5-Acetyl-4-hydroxycannabigerol
19 Acetylcannabigeroquinol
20 Cannabigeroquinone
21 Abnormal cannabigerol
22 Acetyl abnormal hydrocannabigeroquinol
23 Abnormal cannabigeroquinol
24 2′-Hydroxy-1′, 2′-dihydrocannabichromene (Cyclo-CBG)
25 Cannabiorcichromene
26 Cannabiorcichromenic acid
27 Chlorcannabiorcichromenic acid
28 Cannabivarichromene CBCV
29 Cannabichromevarinic acid
30 Cannabichromene CBC
31 Cannabichromenic acid
32 4-Acetoxycannabichromene
33 Anthopogochromenic acid
34 Confluentin
35 Daurichromenic acid
36 8′-Hydroxyisocannabichromene
37 4-Acetoxycannabichromene
38 Cannabidiorcol
39 Cannabidivarin CBDV
40 Cannabidivarinic acid
41 nor-Cannabidiol
42 Cannabidiol CBD
43 Ο-Methlycannabidiol
44 Ο-Propylcannabidiol
45 Ο-Pentylcannabidiol
46 Cannabidiolic acid CBDA
47 CBDA-THC ester
48 Ferruginene C
49 Cannabioxepane
50 Cannabinodivarin
51 Cannabinodiol
52 Cannabifuran
53 Dehydrocannabifuran
54 trans-Δ-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol Δ-8-THC
55 trans-Δ-8-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
56 10α-Hydroxy trans-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
57 10β-Hydroxy trans-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
58 11-Acetoxy-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinoic acid
59 10-Hydroxy-9-oxo-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
60 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabiorcol
61 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabiorcolic acid
62 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabivarin THCV
63 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid
64 Δ-9-trans-nor-Tetrahydrocannabinol
65 Δ-9-trans-nor-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
66 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinol Δ-9-THC
67 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A
68 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid B
69 8α-Hydroxy-Δ-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol
70 8β-Hydroxy-Δ-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol
71 8-Oxo-Δ-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol
72 Ο-Propyl-Δ-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol
73 Ο-Pentyl-Δ-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol
74 2-Formyl-Δ-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol
75 β-Fenchyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
76 α-Fenchyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
77 Bornyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
78 epi-Bornyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
79 α-Terpinyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
80 4-Terpinyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
81 γ-Eudesmyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
82 α-Cadinyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
83 Hexahydrocannabinol
84 Hydroxy Δ-9,11-hexahydrocannabinol
85 Methylen-bis Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Cannabisol)
86 Tetrahydrocannabinol epoxide
87 Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinol glycol (cannabiripsol)
88 6a,7,10a-Trihydroxy-Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
89 Δ-9-cis-Tetrahydrocannabivarin
90 Δ-9-cis-Tetrahydrocannabinol
91 Cannabicitran (citrilidene-cannabis) CBT
92 Cannabiorcicitran
93 Bis-nor cannabitriol
94 Bis-nor-Cannabitriol isomer
95 10-Ο-Ethyl bis-nor cannabitriol
96 Isocannabitriol
97 Cannabitriol
98 Cannabitriol isomer
99 10-Ο-Ethyl cannabitriol isomer
100 10-Oxo-Δ6a(10a)-tetrahydrocannabinol
101 9,10-Anhydrocannabitirol
102 Cannabiglendol
103 7,8-Dehydro-10-Ο-ethylcannabitriol
104 Δ-7-cis-Isotetrahydrocannabivarin
105 Δ-7-trans-Isotetrahydrocannabivarin
106 Δ-7-trans-isotetrahydrocannabinol
107 Bis-nor-cannabielsoin
108 Bis-nor-Cannabielsoic acid B
109 Cannabielsoin CBE
110 Cannabielsoic acid A
111 Cannabielsoic acid B
112 Ferruginene A
113 Ferruginene B
114 Cannabiorcicyclol
115 Cannabiorcicyclolic acid
116 Cannabicyclovarin
117 Cannabicyclol CBL
118 Cannabicyclolic acid
119 Anthopogocyclolic acid
120 Rhododaurichromanic acid A
121 Cannabiorcol
122 nor-Cannabivarin
123 Cannabivarin CBV
124 nor-Cannabinol
125 Cannabinol CBN
126 Cannabinolic acid
127 Ο-Methylcannabinol
128 Ο-Propylcannabinol
129 Ο-Penthylcannabinol
130 7-Hydroxcannabinol
131 8-Hydroxycannabinol
132 8-Hydroxcannabinolic acid
133 7,8-Dihydrocannabinol
134 4-Terpenyl cannabinolate
135 Cannabicoumaronone
136 Cannabicourmarononic acid
137 Bisnor-Cannabichromanone
138 Cannabichromanone
139 (6a*R*)-Cannabichromanone B
140 (6a*R*)-Cannabichromanone C
141 Cannabichromanone
142 Cannabimovone
143 Anhydrocannabimovone
144 Demethyldecarboxyamorfrutin A
145 Tetrahydrocannabiphorol THCP
146 Cannabidiphorol CBDP


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