These days, it’s difficult to browse through the daily news without seeing cannabinoids mentioned in an article or two. As people are educating themselves on the beneficial health properties of CBD and THC, this novel market is rapidly expanding, and bringing new treatment ideas into focus. But, although you’ve heard of THC and CBD (often in unflattering terms), how much do you really know about phytocannabinoids?
Phytocannabinoids (a group name for a plant molecule type that CBD and THC are part of) are synthesized by plants such as hops and echinacea but are most abundant in cannabis varieties, specifically marijuana and hemp. In fact, there are 113 different phytocannabinoids that we’ve been able to identify to date in the cannabis genus alone.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know anything about many of them – a lot of members of the scientific community are in the dark about them, too.
However, there are a few that you should get acquainted with if you’re interested in CBD medicine. And why? Because some manufacturers of CBD oil – more precisely, full-spectrum CBD oil – advertise the therapeutic effects of a number of phytocannabinoids, especially when they are combined with THC, CBD, and terpenes (another type of plant molecule). How much of that is true? Let’s find out!
Table of Contents:
- What’s Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?
- The Entourage Effect
- What Does Science Have to Say About the Entourage Effect?
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Life-Saving Potential of Other Phytocannabinoids
- What’s Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?
What is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?
Currently, the most common type of CBD oil that you can find on the shelves is isolate CBD oil. The name says it – it’s just CBD suspended in a diluent liquid (such as MCT oil or propylene glycol) with no additives thrown in. This type of CBD oil is popular because it doesn’t contain THC – a psychoactive phytocannabinoid that is illegal in most countries and can show up on a drug test.
On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD does contain other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabigerol, and tetrahydrocannabivarin. It often also contains terpenes as well, which are chemical compounds that give plants their smell, and can be found in almost all essential oils. Studies have shown that some terpenes also have beneficial properties that could be used to mitigate certain symptoms, and research is currently underway that will provide us with more definitive answers to that.
One of the most interesting things that the full-spectrum CBD oil has going for it is the insistence of its advocates that it works better than the isolate when it comes to treating some conditions. Its proponents call this the entourage effect – the ability of phytocannabinoids to achieve better therapeutic results when working together rather than when taken separately.
The Entourage Effect – The Real Deal or a Marketing Scam?
The Entourage Effect – the ability of phytocannabinoids to act synergistically and to alter each other’s effects – has been heavily promoted by the manufacturers of full-spectrum CBD oil.
The term was first coined by Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam in 1998 in a paper which described the synergistic effect of different phytocannabinoids. The term was then expanded to include terpenes into that synergy in a paper published in the British Journal of Phytopharmacology in 2011.
Essentially, the entourage effect describes the process through which some phytocannabinoids (or terpenes) change the way other phytocannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system. It’s speculated that this change can happen either on CB receptors in the body or on the cannabinoids themselves.
Reviews from users taking full-spectrum CBD are somewhat of a mixed bag. There are those who are using it to treat different symptoms and say that it works wonders. Others note that full-spectrum helps them manage one specific symptom better. And then, of course, some users feel no relief from taking any type of CBD oil.
What’s important to say here is that there are no double-blind studies with human participants that are currently available that could let us compare the effects of isolate CBD oil versus full-spectrum CBD oil. For skeptics, it seems to be nothing but a marketing ploy to get people to use unpurified CBD oil that might contain higher amounts of THC (which is usually not recommended if you live in a country where THC is illegal, like the US) and to sell it at a higher price point.
What Does Science Have to Say About the Entourage Effect?
We’ve already established that there are no studies done on humans that might give us a glimpse into how credible the entourage effect theory is. Still, research has been done to examine the various ways in which phytocannabinoids interact with one another and our endocannabinoid system that sheds a bit of light on what we’re discussing here.
In 2011, scientists from the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Science in the Netherlands found that high-CBD marijuana strains resulted in fewer cases of THC-induced psychosis. This means that CBD somehow modulates the effects of THC on the brain. In another study done in 2019 the researchers found that CBD reduced brain impairments caused by THC. Again, the effect is the same – CBD seems to be damping THC’s ability to interfere with cognitive functioning.
However, while there is a scientific case for CBD regulating THC intake, the scientific community is still skeptical as to whether it (or any other phytocannabinoid) can significantly improve or alter the effect of other phytocannabinoids.
“The lay public has really taken on the notion of the entourage effect, but there’s not a lot of data,” says Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist. “I’m not against marijuana. I want to study it carefully. We know it can affect pain and appetite but the large majority of what’s being said is driven by anecdotal marketing.”
One very recent study done on the interactions of phytocannabinoids and terpenes corroborates what Dr. Haney is saying. Published in pre-print in bioRxiv, this study concludes that there are no observable synergistic effects between cannabinoids and terpenes as they relate to the endocannabinoid system.
While monitoring CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid signaling, researchers were not able to find any differences in activation whether the terpenes were present with phytocannabinoids or not. Of course, this study didn’t look at every signaling pathway (there are several more cannabinoid receptors other than CB1 and CB2 but these have been most thoroughly investigated), and note in their conclusion that: “It is possible that entourage effects of terpenoids are mediated through modulation of a subset of the cannabinoid receptor signaling repertoire.”
Regardless of whether the entourage effect exists or not, the fact is that there are more than 100 cannabinoids other than THC and CBD. And, research into them showing that they might have some therapeutic use in and off themselves.
Other Phytocannabinoids & Their Therapeutic Effects
Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are both studied extensively right now – we even have some clinical trials involving human patients. Other phytocannabinoids are still in early research phases – we’re talking lab and animal studies here. Nevertheless, we’re seeing some promising results with them, which give scientists some hope that they might be used in the future to create better pharmaceutical drugs.
In molecular makeup, tetrahydrocannabivarin is very similar to THC. In fact, it also acts on the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same way, and it will produce a high. However, most users of THCV report that that high is more mellow and leaves you clear-headed – the onset is quicker than with THC but it also fades away faster.
- Potential as a diabetes medication – THCV does exhibit some properties that indicate that it might be good at regulating blood sugar and insulin resistance. In fact, GW Pharmaceuticals recently came out with a drug that contains THCV (Sativex) and is marketing it as diabetes medication.
- Has anxiolytic and sedative properties – some studies indicate that THCV can reduce stress, and even completely stop panic and anxiety attacks. For this reason, it might play an important role in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Potential treatment for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases – THCV’s neuroprotective properties make it an ideal cannabinoid to look into for managing symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Unlike THCV, cannabichromene is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that does not bind with the CB1 receptors. Instead, it binds with a multitude of other receptors, two of which are TRPV1 and TRPA1. Both of these are linked to pain perception, which is why CBC is currently being researched to see if it might hold the key for all-natural pain management drugs.
- CBC might inhibit cancer cell growth – our body’s own endocannabinoid – anandamide – is a powerful antitumoral molecule. CBC interacts with it by allowing it to stay longer in the bloodstream, which might have a positive effect on slowing down the growth of tumor cells.
- Enhanced brain cell formation – neural stem progenitor cells are essential for healthy brain function. CBC was shown to interact with them by encouraging them to maintain healthy brain homeostasis.
- Potential as acne medication – CBC, along with many other cannabinoids, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. CBC also reduced levels of arachidonic acid (AA), which helps acne form. While further research is needed, it’s possible that CBC will one day be a part of a very effective anti-acne medication.
Cannabinol is a byproduct that occurs when THC is heated. While present in the cannabis plant, its amount will usually be less than 1% of total cannabinoids. It’s also mildly psychoactive, which means that it does produce a high but that high is in no way similar to the one that users experience with THC or THCV.
- Stimulates bone tissue growth – through its interactions with the CB receptors, CBN can activate mesenchymal stem cells that surround the bone marrow. These cells are vital in new bone formation, which means that CBN is a potential candidate for the formulation of new drugs that would be much more efficient in healing fractured bones.
- Strong sedative effect – research into CBN has shown that it can act as a strong sedative, similar in effect to many over-the-counter medications that are currently used. This study was done on mice, however, so we’ll have to wait for human trials before we can judge whether or not CBN can be a powerful sleep aid.
Last, but definitely not the least, cannabigerol is an extremely interesting cannabinoid. It’s created from cannabigerolic acid, the parent molecule that mostly transforms into CBD and THC during a plant’s lifetime. What’s left of it is converted into CBG, which ends up constituting around 1% of total cannabis phytocannabinoids.
Cannabigerol has only been recently discovered but we’re already it performing well in different studies. Here are just a few examples of what it could potentially end up treating.
- Promising antifungal and antibacterial properties – along with other cannabinoids, CBG is showing promise when it comes to treating highly resistant bacterial infections. Specifically, in this study, it was shown to be effective in treating MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is not responding well to conventional antibiotics.
- Potential antitumoral properties – CBG is also exhibiting pro-apoptotic properties when it comes to cancer cells. Alongside other non-psychotropic cannabinoids, it can potentially slow the growth of cancer cells, and even encourage the ones that are present to die.
There’s Life-Saving Potential in Nearly All Cannabinoids
As you can see, despite the fact that we mostly hear about CBD and THC, there’s a lot of research being done on other phytocannabinoids. We don’t have a crystal ball to tell what will come of it all but it’s reasonable to assume that at least some of the other cannabinoids will have therapeutic properties that can certain conditions and symptoms.
If you’re planning on using full-spectrum CBD oil on the off chance that it might help you with whatever you’re dealing with, do it. Just make sure that you can legally be in possession of it – there’s no sense in risking fines or even jail if THC formulations are not legal in your state.
By far the most effective way to use CBD (and other cannabinoids) for acute conditions is by vaping on them. For all information about Velxtech CBD vape devices, make sure to contact our support team. They’ll gladly answer all your questions and tell you why Velxtech CBD vapes are the best CBD vapes!