In the hemp plant there are suggested to be over a hundred different cannabinoids that each have their own molecular structure and therefore each could have their own potential benefits. Among the most commonly known are CBD and THC however as research progresses we are continually learning more about these two along with several other important cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN.
A minor cannabinoid that was discovered along with CBD and THC in the 1960’s. CBG is a rare cannabinoid, and most mature medical cannabis and hemp plants contain less than 1% of CBG. Much like CBD, it is non-psychoactive and does not produce any effects of euphoria. Studies have been conducted with CBG involving a wide range of issues including glaucoma, skin conditions, tumors, neurological conditions, bacterial infections, inflammation and stress. More research is needed to fully understand the extent of the potential benefits of CBG.
Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA)
In 1975 scientists isolated CBGA, the acidic or carboxylated version of CBG. Studies suggest that CBGA is the biological origin or building block of all other cannabinoids in cannabis including CBD, THC, CBN, CBC and THCv. The acidic version of CBG was then nicknamed “The Mother of All Cannabinoids”. Researchers found that CBGA is broken down by the plant’s natural enzymes into other acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA, THCA, and CBCA. The acidic versions of these cannabinoids are then converted to their “activated” CBD, THC and CBC when they undergo decarboxylation; a loss of a carbon atom from a carbon chain which can occur due to aging or heat during extraction processes, combustion, and vaping.
Diagram showing CBGA (left) converting into CBDA (middle) through the plant enzyme CBDA Synthase and then converting into CBD (right) through decarboxylation.
CBN was first discovered in the 1940’s and originally thought to be the reason behind the psychoactive effects of cannabis until they discovered THC. As research progressed we learned that CBN is non-psychoactive like CBD and CBG. Although studies suggest that THC may be more effective when taken along with CBN. Among the most common anecdotal feedback heard from those who have tried CBN is that it may have relaxing and sedative effects. Therefore people should not drive or operate machinery when learning how this cannabinoid affects them. Researchers are exploring CBN for many issues including insomnia, glaucoma, inflammation, muscle spasms, loss of appetite, and seizure disorders. More research is needed to fully understand the extent of the potential benefits of CBN.
Cannabinolic Acid (CBNA)
CBGA converts into THCA by the plant enzyme THCA Synthase and CBNA is created when THCA goes through oxidation; a process that involves a chemical substance changing because of the addition of oxygen, which may also result in a loss of hydrogen atoms. Oxidation can occur due to exposure from light, heat, and air which is why CBN is typically found in aging cannabis. Once this process occurs the CBN cannot convert back into the THC, however due to its close relation to THC it may result in false positives for THC drug testing according to some studies.