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CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC- What are they?

With more and more research going into cannabis and new cannabis compounds being discovered, there are a number of cannabinoids that have started popping up in products. But what do these really do for you? Are they different from CBD? What do they mean? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and help you make the decision on which product is right for you.


What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are one of the 4 main compound groups that make up cannabis (the other three being terpenes, flavonoids and sterols). Two of the most recognizable cannabinoids in cannabis are the psychoactive ∆9-THC and non-psychoactive CBD, but more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis (20-26). Overall, cannabinoids have show to demonstrate pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. (27-29) As research into cannabinoids continues, new cannabinoids are identified with potential health benefits. We will explore some of the cannabinoids gaining the most traction below.


CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the most widely recognized cannabinoid in cannabis besides THC. It is non-psychoactive and well documented in demonstrating a number of potential health benefits, including helping:


  • Pain & inflammation (12, 13, 14)

  • Anxiety (15, 18)

  • Sleep (19)

  • Seizures (16, 17)


CBD has become the most popular of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids studied for its health benefits-- however, it is far from the only one. A number of cannabinoids have started emerging recently and show promising results, including:


CBG

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid similar to CBD, but very different in how it interacts with the body. CBG is derived from CBGa (cannabigeriolic acid), a compound considered to be the “stem cell” of cannabinoids as it can also be converted into CBD, CBC, or THC through enzymatic process. Early research into the mechanism of CBG indicates that it acts as an agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors without causing any intoxicating effects, and that it may also act as a GABA reuptake inhibitor. What this essentially boils down to is that CBG may help with both neuropathic and inflammatory pain.  

Early research shows that CBG may offer:


  •  Digestion benefits (7)

  • Antibacterial benefits (2)

  • Pain & inflammation reduction (10)

CBN

CBN, or cannabinol, can currently only be derived from CBD through a chemical conversion process. It is structurally very similar to THC, but with one important difference- it contains almost none of the psychoactive effects. While more structurally similar to THC than CBD once it reaches its final form, CBN lacks the psychoactive effects of THC. Some of the potential benefits of CBN include:

  • Antibacterial benefits (2)

  • Neuroprotection (3,6)

  • Appetite-stimulation (8)


CBC

Cannabichromene or (CBC) has much less research behind it compared to the other compounds on this list, but in the research that has been conducted on it, it has already demonstrated its potential as a medical supplement. CBC’s effects feel very similar to CBD when ingested, but varies greatly in its chemical structure.  This enables it to interact with the body in a very different way. So far, research has linked CBC with the following medical benefits:

  • Cancer benefits (4)

  • Neuroprotection (3)

  • Neuroregeneration (5)

  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits (11)

Will CBN get you high?

Research shows that, although CBN acts similar to THC in the body, it is around 1/6 to 1/10th as strong (30). CBN does activate the CB1 receptor in the body, but not nearly enough to cause intoxication.


So, what should I get?

Largely, many of these cannabinoids overlap in their benefits, and none are necessarily better than the other. You may find it best to customize your regime by using products with similar effects in combination to maximize their potential. Unlike some products, cannabinoids act in synergy with each other rather than in opposition.


If your main concern is inflammation, you may want to include products with CBD, CBG and CBC in your regimen, whereas if you are looking for a product with neuroprotective benefits, you may want to consider CBC and CBN.


Overall, these cannabinoids hold enormous potential to alleviate many conditions, with additional research required to fully reveal what other benefits these compounds may hold. We hope this guide helps you to make an informed decision about what compounds to consider adding to your routine.

 

References:

  1. Appendino, Giovanni et al. “Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study.” Journal of natural products vol. 71,8 (2008): 1427-30. doi:10.1021/np8002673

  2. Somvanshi, Rishi K et al. “Cannabinol modulates neuroprotection and intraocular pressure: A potential multi-target therapeutic intervention for glaucoma.” Biochimica et biophysica acta. Molecular basis of disease vol. 1868,3 (2022): 166325. doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2021.166325

  3. Stone, Nicole L et al. “A systematic review of minor phytocannabinoids with promising neuroprotective potential.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 177,19 (2020): 4330-4352. doi:10.1111/bph.15185

  4. Anis, Omer et al. “Cannabis-Derived Compounds Cannabichromene and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Interact and Exhibit Cytotoxic Activity against Urothelial Cell Carcinoma Correlated with Inhibition of Cell Migration and Cytoskeleton Organization.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 26,2 465. 17 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/molecules26020465

  5. Shinjyo, Noriko, and Vincenzo Di Marzo. “The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells.” Neurochemistry international vol. 63,5 (2013): 432-7. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2013.08.002

  6. Liang, Zhibin et al. “Cannabinol inhibits oxytosis/ferroptosis by directly targeting mitochondria independently of cannabinoid receptors.” Free radical biology & medicine vol. 180 (2022): 33-51. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.01.001

  7.  Borrelli, Francesca et al. “Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease.” Biochemical pharmacology vol. 85,9 (2013): 1306-16. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2013.01.017

  8. Cabrera, Carmen Lorena Robaina, et al. “The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabidiol and Cannabigerol Alone, and in Combination.” Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Academic Press, 1 June 2021, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094553921000596.

  9. Farrimond, Jonathan A et al. “Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns.” Psychopharmacology vol. 223,1 (2012): 117-29. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2697-x

  10. Kogan, Natalya M et al. “Novel CBG Derivatives Can Reduce Inflammation, Pain and Obesity.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 26,18 5601. 15 Sep. 2021, doi:10.3390/molecules26185601

  11. Izzo, Angelo A et al. “Inhibitory effect of cannabichromene, a major non-psychotropic cannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa, on inflammation-induced hypermotility in mice.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 166,4 (2012): 1444-60. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01879.x

  12. Zurier, Robert B, and Sumner H Burstein. “Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis.” FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology vol. 30,11 (2016): 3682-3689. doi:10.1096/fj.201600646R

  13. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, et al. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. National Academies Press (US), 12 January 2017. doi:10.17226/24625

  14. MacCallum, Caroline A, and Ethan B Russo. “Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing.” European journal of internal medicine vol. 49 (2018): 12-19. doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2018.01.004

  15. Blessing, Esther M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 12,4 (2015): 825-36. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

  16. Porter BE and Jacobson C. Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsy & Behavior 29 (2013) 574–577.

  17. Consroe P and Wolkin A. Cannabidiol--antiepileptic drug comparisons and interactions in experimentally induced seizures in rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1977 Apr;201(1):26-32.

  18. Crippa, José Alexandre S et al. “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) vol. 25,1 (2011): 121-30. doi:10.1177/0269881110379283

  19. Shannon, Scott et al. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.” The Permanente journal vol. 23 (2019): 18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041

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  29. Volicer L, Stelly M, Morris J, McLAUGHLIN J, Volicer BJ (1997) Effects of dronabinol on anorexia and disturbed behavior in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 12:913–919

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