Active Ingredients in Cannabis
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the best-known substance in cannabis, and is the cannabinoid most responsible for cannabis's psychoactive effects, but is just one of the roughly 80 cannabinoids found naturally in cannabis. Clinical trials and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of patients have shown that strains of cannabis that include THC provide important medical benefits for individuals suffering from pain, glaucoma, MS, nausea, and wasting disease. The appetite stimulation result from consuming THC is effective in treating individuals suffering with the side effects of chemotherapy and AIDS therapies. While THC does cause cannabis's “high,” patients use cannabis for relief, not for euphoria.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
THCA actually has drastically different properties. Unlike THC, THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. As marijuana dries, THCA slowly converts to THC. Heat expedites this conversion in a process known as decarboxylation, a fancy word that describes what happens when you heat the plant. THCA is reported to have anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory abilities, which show potential to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Its anti-spasmodic properties help subdue muscle spasms which may explain how it assists in controlling seizures. THCA also appears to help with chronic immune-system disorders.
Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound, but it does contribute to making the body feel calm and relaxed. CBD can actually counter the psychoactive effects of THC; therefore a strain of cannabis with a balance of CBD and THC can be useful. Scientific and clinical studies are unlocking CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, antibiotic-resistant infections, and other neurological disorders. The media has widely reported recently cannabis with significant amount of CBD appear to be particularly effective in treating seizures, while its anti-cancer properties are currently being researched. CBD directly activates serotonin receptors, causing an anti-depressant effect. CBD rich strains are now been grown for medicinal use.
Cannabiinol is largely a result of THC degradation or oxidation. Therefore only traces of this cannabinoid exist in fresh flowers. The research for CBN is still lacking, but some early studies have suggested it could stimulate bone growth. If this proves to be correct it could help in the treatment of osteoporosis, and also aids broken bones to heal quicker. Another benefit of CBN is it's anti-bacterial properties. According to an Italian study from 2008, CBN “showed potent activity against MRSA” (the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that in recent years claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Humans) when applied as a topical. Topical uses also have shown promise in treating burns and psoriasis. CBN contains only 10 percent of the psychoactive potency of the original THC.
Cannabigerol is the starting point for many cannabinoids in cannabis, including THC and CBD. They all begin as CBG then are quickly converted to other cannabinoids. It also has a number of medical properties that researchers are just starting to uncover. CBG has been shown to relieve interocular pressure, which may be of benefit in the treatment of glaucoma. It is also showing hope as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, although more research is needed.
Cannabichromene is typically found in significant quantities in freshly harvested, dry cannabis. To date, the compound has not been subject to rigorous study. According to a 2009 review of CBC, “CBC exerts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (a general term that refers to anti fungal and anti bacterial) and modest analgesic activity.” CBC has also been shown to promote anti-cancer activity in malignant cell lines and to possess bone-stimulating properties. More recently, a 2011 preclinical trial reported that CBC influences nerve endings above the spine to modify sensations of pain.
Terpenes or terpenoids
Terpenes or terpenoids are molecules that give cannabis it's unique and compelling fragrance. Various researchers have emphasized the pharmacological importance of terpenes. THC, CBD, and the other cannabinoids have no smell. The fragrance of different cannabis strains depends on which terpenes predominate. The terpenoid profile can differ significantly from strain to strain and it's the combination of terpenoids and cannabinoids that endows each strain with a specific medicinal flavour. Patients who abandon a suitable strain for one with higher THC and/or CBD content may not get more relief if the terpenoid profile is significantly different. Around 200 terpenes have been found in cannabis, but only a few of these oily substances appear in amounts substantial enough to be noteworthy. Just like cannabinoids, terpenes are oily compounds secreted in the glandular trichomes. The terpenes in cannabis have given the plant an enduring, evolutionary advantage. Pungent terpenoid oils repel insects and animal grazers while others prevent fungus.
Terpenoids and cannabinoids increase blood flow, enhance cortical activity, and kill respiratory pathogens, including MRSA. Research reports that cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions "could produce synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections."
Flavonoids often occur as pigments in fruits and flowers. Over twenty flavonoids are found in cannabis and they provide additional therapeutic effects including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anxiolytic. Cannflavin A and B are flavonoids found only in cannabis. Flavonoids have become popular in nutrition and medicine for their antioxidant benefits.