8 Popular Cannabinoids

8 Popular Cannabinoids

When you hear the word “cannabinoids,” you probably think of CBD, which has become popular.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is used in a variety of products, from capsules to tea, for its various benefits, but it’s not the only type of cannabinoid out there.

What, exactly, is a cannabinoid?

A cannabinoid can be defined as a chemical compound that’s derived from the cannabis plant.

There are many types of cannabinoids and when ingested or smoked, they interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors to do various tasks.

These tasks include promoting wellbeing, aiding in sleep, or reducing pain.

Let’s look at CBD as well as other popular cannabinoids to see what all the fuss is about. We’ll start with THC.

If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the popular cannabinoids, we got you covered:

Popular Cannabinoids

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THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol

molecule of thc

THC is one of the most-known cannabinoids.

It’s basically a chemical compound that will make you feel high, and a reason why cannabis is illegal in many places.

The way in which it offers psychoactive effects is because THC connects with CB1 receptors in the brain and this causes dopamine to be released, thus causing the “high” feelings of elation and relaxation.

When we talk about CBD products, such as those found in capsules and topical creams, we don’t mean THC – this ingredient is completely left out of such products so they won’t make a person become high.

On a federal level, THC is allowed in CBD products as long as they don’t contain more than 0.2 percent of THC.

Even if you think that all cannabinoids will work in the same way as THC, that’s certainly not the case. CBD won’t make you feel high or give you unpleasant side effects.

CBD – Cannabidiol

Cbd cannabidiol formula

This is one of the most popular cannabinoids right now and it’s sprouting up everywhere!

You can find it capsules, topical creams, oils and tinctures, and even bath bombs.

Although it won’t make you high because it doesn’t actively work with the brain’s CB1 receptors, it does have some useful effects on the brain and body.

For example, it boosts the body’s own endocannabinoids that are responsible for regulating pain.

This is why taking CBD products is said to alleviate pain in the body. In addition to that, CBD can promote relaxation.

CBDV – Cannabidivarin

Cbdv or Cannabidivarin molecule

This is another cannabinoid that doesn’t intoxicate people when consumed.

So, it’s quite similar to CBD. It was discovered decades ago but only now has been researched properly.

So far, it has been found that CBDV can have useful anticonvulsant effects. Therefore, it can be used to treat and manage conditions such as epilepsy.

CBC – Cannabichromene

molecule of cbc

CBC is one of the most interesting cannabinoids out there and it shows promise for the future of health.

CBC works with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors as well as others that are found in the body.

The reason why it’s so powerful is because it is quite similar to THC and CBD, but it’s not intoxicating.

If you’ve heard of the “entourage effect,” then you’ll be interested to know that CBC works well with other cannabinoids.

In addition to that, it’s a powerful cannabinoid that can be used to treat cancer.

Although THC is usually the cannabinoid we think of when it comes to eliminating tumors, CBC is gaining ground as a powerful compound that can inhibit the growth of new cancer cells, as a study that was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found. 

THCA – Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid

THCA is actually a compound that’s created before THC is formed.

How this happens is that cannabis flowers grow on the stalk of the plant and THCA is found on these. When the cannabis gets cut and processed, such as with heat, then the THCA becomes THC.

There’s still quite a lot of research that needs to be done into THCA and it’s benefits, but there are some interesting qualities we already know about it.

For example, it’s non-psychoactive before it gets turned into THC, it can treat problems such as nausea, and it’s also a promising treatment for health conditions related to inflammation, such as lupus and arthritis, as HelloMD reports.

CBDA – Cannabidiolic Acid

structure of cbda molecule

This is a compound that’s similar to THCA and it’s actually the main constituent in cannabis that has high CBD levels.

How it works is that it prevents the COX-2 enzyme, which contributes to how cannabis can have anti-inflammatory effects, as Citiva reports.

Now, this is really important because COX-2 enzymes are linked to inflammation after infection or injury.

By preventing their function, CBDA can decrease inflammation as well as pain in the body.

One of the most interesting features about CBDA is that it gets transformed into CBD over time and also when it is exposed to heat.

CBG – Cannabigerol

molecule diagram of cbg

This is an interesting compound because it appears in tiny amounts and is non-psychoactive.

But it’s quite a misunderstood cannabinoid because it’s actually not a minor player!

It has some interesting potential that could help to revolutionize the treatment of various health conditions.

Not only can it help to decrease pain and inflammation, much like other cannabinoids, but it can also decrease intraocular pressure.

This is a big benefit that could help people who have glaucoma, as WebMD reports.

In addition to that, CBG could help to treat Huntington’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disease and progressive brain disorder.

In fact, animal studies that were published in Neurotherapeutics found that when CBG was tested on mice, the compound had potential as a neuroprotective chemical.

CBN – Cannabinol

This is derived from THC but isn’t as powerful.

However, just because it’s less potent than THC, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any medical benefits.

In fact, it can be a good option for people who are sensitive to THC and therefore avoid it.

CBN is taken from THC that has gone stale, but it still works to give calming and sedative effects to people who consume it. It’s not just good to help you relax and sleep better, though.

It’s been found that using CBN with THC could have a positive effect on pain, helping to decrease it.

Cannabinoids And The “Entourage Effect”

the entourage effect

What’s interesting about cannabinoids is that although they have their own benefits, combining them with other cannabinoids can help to boost their effects, as can be seen in the above example.

This is actually known as the “entourage effect.” It basically means that cannabinoids are stronger and more powerful when they’re used together instead of when they’re used on their own.

The “entourage effect” can be seen with cannabinoids such as cannabidiol and THC.

When combined, these can be a powerful way to treat various health conditions.

Some people who take THC will experience side effects such as sedation and anxiety, but these symptoms can be prevented or minimized by taking  CBD, as both human and animal studies found in a 2011 review, as Healthline reports.

Other cannabinoids also show promising results when combined.

A review of studies that was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking phytocannabinoids and terpenes (organic compounds) together could help various conditions, such as inflammation, anxiety, pain, and even epilepsy and cancer.

Related Questions

How do cannabinoids work?

When you take cannabinoids, they will connect to cannabinoid receptors in the body which are mainly located in the nervous system and brain.

What they do to you depends on what receptors they bind to. They’re mainly associated with pain, movement, appetite, and memory.

What are synthetic cannabinoids?

These are molecules that attach to the body’s receptors but they’re designer drugs that are usually smoked.

They are marketed as herbal smoking blends, like K2 and Spice, but can cause unpleasant side effects.

They’re illegal in many parts of the world.


Although it’s easy to assume that THC and CBD are two of the most important cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, after reading this article it’s clear to see that there are loads more of these interesting chemical compounds to know about.

We’ve given you a crash course on popular cannabinoids and what they do as well as looked into what the “entourage effect” is and why it can work to increase the health benefits of your favorite cannabinoids.

It will be interesting to see what further research into cannabinoids reveals – the future of health looks exciting!

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