While CBD retains the crown as the most well-known and popular cannabinoid without psychoactive properties, some new cannabinoids step up to the plate to compete. Not all of these will coalesce into new product options, but some offer enough value to justify seeking them out, despite their rarity.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation(ADF), researchers found roughly 100 distinct cannabinoids in the Cannabis Sativa plant. This means that THC and CBD represent only about 2% of the cannabinoids available.
While not all created equal, some of these cannabinoids warrant special consideration. Continue reading to learn what new cannabinoids offer the most value, and when you can expect to buy them.
New Cannabinoids Cautiously Enter the Market
Not long after CBD won the hearts of millions of Americans, researchers started to look at new cannabinoids with similar potential, if not more potential. However concerns arise in relation to the legality of these cannabinoids. Despite the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized the production of hemp and removed it from the DEA’s list of controlled substances, both investors and consumers retain some level of healthy skepticism.
For instance, the FDA continues to demonstrate vague positions on CBD and cannabinoid extracts which leaves prospects uncertain. The FDA holds a reputation of market-altering 180’s in their decision making and judgments. For now, the FDA’s only clear ruling designates three cannabis related products with their approval.
These products require a prescription issued by a licensed healthcare provider. So the elephant in the room takes shape as concern for how new cannabinoids might be received in the future.
But in general analysts expect the FDA to categorize cannabinoids as either nutritional supplements or food-grade products. Either one of these rulings would be considered beneficial to the industry.
The Worst case scenario entails government oversight and regulation of production and/or sale of cannabinoid products. For now according to the FDA, marketing CBD products added to food products or as a dietary supplement continues to be illegal.
What are Cannabinoids?
Before we dive into the meat and potatoes of the topic, let’s clarify the meaning of the term cannabinoid. The term ‘cannabinoid’ refers to the chemical compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant.
When you ingest a full-spectrum hemp extract product for instance, you are ingesting dozens of these cannabinoids if not more. Though some of these require much higher doses of a single cannabinoid compound than one can get from a full-spectrum product.
As such, researchers continue to push for new ways to target the extraction and/or production of single cannabinoids to map its uses and effects.
These cannabinoids represent the most popular targets of research and public interest:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
According to Dr. Jeremy Riggle, Chief Operating Scientist of Mary’s Medicinals, these cannabinoids demonstrate particular pharmacological benefit. In other words, the five cannabinoids listed above show the highest level of potential impact on human health outcomes.
The effect of any cannabinoid on the human body traces back to two simple receptors, the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
What are the CB1 and CB2 Receptors?
When breaking down cannabinoid science, the human body’s endocannabinoid system almost all of the credit for why people like cannabinoid products. Every person body contains an endocannabinoid system which functions by way of two key receptor pathways.
Located in the central nervous system, the CB1 Receptor provides the function by which a cannabinoid converts into a helpful enzyme or neurochemical reaction. The CB1 receptor explains the psychoactive component of any cannabinoid such as THC. This pathway holds the attention of scientists interested in exploring psychological and neurophysiological treatments using cannabinoids.
Found in the immune system, the CB2 receptor on the hand explains the physiological effects of cannabinoids. In other words, the CB2 receptor is responsible for anti-inflammatory effects and reduction of pain.
Similarly, scientists see potential in the CB2 receptor as a pathway for treatments to improve immune system responses, and to potentially treat disease located in immune system malfunctions.
While some cannabinoids such as CBC bind to other receptors in the human body, the endocannabinoid system and its receptors act as the integral pathways.
Psychoactive Versus Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids
The biggest wrench in the wheel of progress in new cannabinoid research results from the legal ambiguities described above. Because investors and researchers must exercise caution, particularly hesitation persists in the treatment of cannabinoids with psychoactive properties.
For cannabinoids to demonstrate a psychoactive component, it must meet one single prerequisite. Specifically, it must bind to the CB1 receptor in the human brain. Once the cannabinoid activates this receptor, neurological changes in the body occur such as a change in levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine.
The pathway from the CB1 receptor to neurological actions creates the intoxicating effects of THC. And this explains why people get “high” from using it.
The problem is that researchers, investors, and consumers want to distance themselves from products too similar to those containing THC. And the most glaring similarity between some new promising cannabinoids and THC is this psychoactive component.
However, the psychoactive component also enables the most impactful results in human psychology and neurophysiological changes. So the industry remains in a tricky position–some of the most potential lies in cannabinoids with the most intrinsic risk.
Why You Should Watch CBN
One of the most interesting new cannabinoids on the horizon goes by the name of Cannabinol (CBN). Given the relative obscurity of this cannabinoid, it might be surprising to learn that it was one of the first cannabinoids ever extracted back in the early 1800s.
While only existing in low quantities in fresh plants, CBN begins to accumulate as the result of a chemical reaction between certain cannabinoids and exposure to the elements. In other words, hemp plants exposed to sunlight and air will show higher concentrations of CBN.
CBN demonstrates an intriguing list of potential uses.
CBN as a Sleep Aid
While needing more research, early results show that CBN works as a strong sleep aid. The bulk of support for this notion comes from a relatively small study from 1975. This study employed only five participants, however many consumers describe similar results.
Because CBN potentially exhibits psychoactive components at higher doses, researchers believe that CBN could work for individuals with serious sleep problems. Whereas CBD may only help individuals with mild sleep disorders.
CBN as a Pain-Reducer
One of the most promising directions for CBN research lies in the areas of pain-reduction. Specifically, one study shows both CBD and CBN reduced myofascial pain in rats. But the promising element of this study showed that CBD and CBN when used together produced much stronger results than when either cannabinoid was used alone.
So much so that researchers think this combination could work in treatment of some seriously painful diseases. Specifically, researchers point to the treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) and fibromyalgia.
This points to a remarkable idea: developing cannabinoid cocktails with certain combinations to target certain conditions may very well be the future of the industry.
CBN Might Delay the Onset of ALS
One study from 2005 showed that CBN delayed the onset of Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Considering the terribly destructive nature of ALS, this area of research could lead to one of the most historic breakthroughs in all of cannabinoid research.
While undoubtedly requiring more research to confirm these results in humans, findings like this spur massive interest in researchers and investors alike.
Is CBN legal?
CBN retains a legal status for now. But this is because CBN has not been categorized as illegal by any governing body, and has not had its legality confirmed. In other words, you can purchase and use CBN until someone says otherwise.
This leads both investors and researchers to exercise caution. This hesitation though could prove costly considering the potential medical breakthroughs suggested in early research.
The tantalizing promise of the studies listed above inspire cannabinoid activists to push for more widespread acceptance of hemp plants and their cannabinoids.
What is CBG?
CBG or cannabigerol presents one of the newest frontiers in cannabis science. Concentration of CBG occurs in hemp only in small quantities, which makes it difficult to study. But as technology for extracting particular cannabinoids achieves increasing efficiency, CBG takes on more interest as a viable product for study and commerce.
CBG activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human body, making it one of the most unique cannabinoids in cannabis sativa. And although CBG activates the CB1 receptor, responsible for psychoactive effects, it demonstrates no psychoactive effects.
In fact, researchers believe that CBG can help mitigate or even reverse the paranoia or anxiety reported by individuals who ingest large quantities of THC.
So once again we see the picture where certain cannabinoid combinations alleviate the downsides of a cannabinoid used on its own.
The Benefits of CBG
Due to the difficulty in accruing enough CBG to study, the body of research behind CBG lags behind the rest of new cannabinoids outlined in this article. However CBG also holds some of the highest levels of interest in the industry due to its dual-activation of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
With this in mind here are some of the most intriguing benefits expected by those studying it:
- Treatment of inflammatory diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Treatment of diseases effecting motor function such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease.
- Treatment of psychological disorders such as general anxiety.
Some of the most promising areas of application for CBG position the cannabinoid as a treatment for cancer. Since it provides many of the same benefits of THC in reducing tumor growth, but without the caveat of potentially debilitating intoxication.
While CBG offers a great deal of promise, researchers urge consumers to be wary of companies selling CBG products. Because no regulations influence the sale of CBG, some companies demonstrate a lack of accountability. This makes it all the more important to vet a company before you buy its products.
When more research validates CBG it will gain security in the market, but for now consumers should only purchase it from the most trusted of companies.
What is CBC?
What makes Cannabichromene (CBC) so intriguing to scientists comes down to its ability to activate numerous receptors, beyond those of the endocannabinoid receptors. CBC also binds poorly to the CB1 receptor and thus won’t create any of the intoxicating effects such as those associated with THC.
Because of the unique way in which CBC is processed by the body, scientists believe that it offers singular benefits. In other words, CBC might offer some benefits that other cannabinoids simply cannot.
CBC as a Tool for Fighting Cancer
CBC offers a list of benefits that would entice any researcher. Among these is its potential application in treating the symptoms of cancer, and potentially even the cancer itself.
In fact, a recent study showed that CBC increased levels of the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoid, anandamide. And also proved that CBC inhibited the growth of skin cancer in mice.
Additionally, anandamide been shown to fight breast cancer in both vitro and in vivo. This points to a promising future where CBC might work as a key factor in chemo prevention.
While scientists believe that CBC ranks as the second-most effective cancer fighter behind CBG, CBC is considerably easier to acquire and is less expensive. This makes it a better option for early studies where funding often presents a major challenge.
CBC and Major Anti-Inflammatory Power
Studies show that CBC blocks pain associated with diseases like osteoporosis. And in general, CBC demonstrates anti-inflammatory powers that compete with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but come with none of the associated downsides.
And again we see that when combined with certain other cannabinoids, CBC works at a much higher level. Specifically, a recent study demonstrated that when paired with THC, CBC provided a greater level of anti-inflammation effect than either THC or CBC on their own.
CBC and the Treatment of Acne
CBC might become the favorite cannabinoid of teenagers. A 2016 study showed that both CBC and CBD worked as effective treatment of skin issues such as acne.
The topic requires more research, but the day may soon be here where we see a powerful product for acne made possible by cannabinoids like CBC and CBD.
THC, CBD, and CBC in the Treatment of Depression
One fascinating direction of research proves that when used together THC, CBD, and CBC provide a “trifecta of antidepressant capabilities.” Considering the antidepressant power these cannabinoids demonstrate on their own, the allure of compounding these benefits draws a high level of interest and funding.
The Entourage Effect and the Future of Cannabinoids
As described in the sections above, cannabinoid research continues to highlight one truth: they work better together. This truth refers the phenomenon named the ‘Entourage Effect.’ In simple terms, this means that the effectiveness of cannabinoids compound with each other.
Both scientists and investors seem positioned for a future where the most successful products employ calculated combinations of cannabinoids to target the highest level of a desired effect.
And this effect also works as a strong argument for full-spectrum cannabinoid products. Recently the industry moved in the direction of selling high-concentration products of a single cannabinoid. But with the entourage effect in mind, you might be best served by taking many different cannabinoids at the same time.
Just food for thought–but one thing remains clear: cannabinoids deserve the hype. And the science suggests the most powerful and impactful cannabinoid products exist in the days ahead of us.