CBG & others

In addition to the most well-known phytocannabinoids THC and CBD, cannabis contains more than 100 other phytocannabinoids which could have therapeutic properties. In this article you will find an overview of the most well-known and commonly-occurring ones: cannabigerol (CBG), beta-caryophyllene (BCP), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). These active compounds (and terpenes) are absent in cannabinoid isolates, however in full-spectrum extracts they are present in varying proportions of course, which means that a possible entourage effect of the substances can be exploited.

In addition to the most well-known phytocannabinoids THC and CBD, cannabis contains more than 100 other phytocannabinoids.1 The most well-known and commonly-occurring ones include cannabigerol (CBG), beta-caryophyllene (BCP), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV); therapeutic effects have also been proven for these substances (e.g. neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory or modulating properties)2,3,4,5,6,7. These substances (and terpenes) are absent in cannabinoid isolates, however in full-spectrum extracts they are present in varying proportions, which means that a possible entourage effect of the substances can be exploited.

In the future, targeted breeding will help to produce cannabis chemovars with differing phytocannabinoid weighting, depending on the therapeutic requirements or “suitability”.

Cannabigerol CBG

Chemical molecular formula: C21H32O2
Molecular weight: 316,48 g/mol
Boiling point: n.a.

Medicinal effects (experimentally demonstrated)8,3,9,10: anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, appetite-stimulating, antiemetic, intraocular pressure-reducing, analgesic, antibacterial.

CBG is non-psychotropic und functions as a mild CB1 receptor antagonist, 5HT1A receptor antagonist, alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist and CB2-Rezeptor Agonist and thus apparently is an additional “big” regulator / plant-based ligand of the endocannabinoid system; CBG also inhibits COX1 and COX2 the enzymes involved in pain and inflammatory processes, – more effectively than CBD or THC (in vitro)4,11. In “normal” cannabis plants, CBG constitutes no more than 10 % of the cannabinoid profile; in CBG-dominant plants this value can however be up to 94 %. This cannabinoid is formed early in the plant’s growth cycle, before it is broken down into CBD and CBC, however it is also possible for CBG to be directly converted into THC.

Beta-Caryophyllen BCP

Chemical molecular formula: C15H24
Molecular weight: 204,36 g/mol
Boiling point: 260–261 °C

Medicinal effects12: cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, gastroprotective, neuroprotective, nephroprotective, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immunomodulating.

BCP demonstrates its medicinal properties as a CB2 receptor agonist, PPAR stimulant, (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, PPARs), inhibitor of the toll-like receptor complex signalling cascade (CD14 / TLR4 / MD2), immune regulator and due to synergy effects on μ-opioid receptor-dependent signalling pathways. BCP also has an antagonistic effect on the acetylcholine receptor (α7-nAChR), however it does not appear to influence GABAergic or serotonergic neurotransmission. Through the change of the cellular gene expression, an effect on various signalling pathways or direct interaction with a wide variety of molecules, BCP modulates various physiological processes. A review published in 2016 by Sharma et al. gives a detailed overview.

Except from cannabis, BCP can also be found in basil, rosemary, cinnamon, oregano, caraway and pepper.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

Chemical molecular formula: ‎C19H26O2
Molecular weight: 286.41 g/mol
Boiling point: 220° Celsius
Medicinal effects13,14: antiepileptic, antiemetic

The phytocannabinoid cannabidivarin (CBDV) was first identified in the 1970s. Under acidic conditions CBDV isomerises into THCV and in the plant CBDV is the precursor to THCV. Higher concentrations of CBDV and THCV occur more frequently in Cannabis indica than in Cannabis sativa varieties. CBDV appears to demonstrate its medicinal effect at least partially by modulating GABAergic neurotransmission.

Cannabinol CBN

Chemical molecular formula: C21H26O2
Molecular weight: 310.43 g/mol
Boiling point: 185°C

Medicinal effects15,16,17,18: sedative, analgesic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, appetite-stimulating, anti-carcinogenic

CBN is an oxidation product of THC and unfolds its medicinal effect in a similar way to THC as e.g. an CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist. A high CBN proportion often indicates cannabis that is already older or was subject to higher temperatures. CBN is slightly psychotropic and significantly more sedating than many other known cannabinoids. Cannabis indica varieties in general appear to contain higher CBN amounts than C. sativa ones.

Cannabichromen CBC

Chemical molecular formula: C21H30O2
Molecular weight: 314.47 g/mol
Boiling point: 220°C

Medical effects:2,18,19 antimycotic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, anti-depressive, analgesic, promotes neurogenesis.

CBC entfaltet seine medizinische Wirkung ohne Psychotrope Effekte und wirkt bei der Bekämpfung z.B. von Schmerzen, Entzündungen und Depressionen synergetisch mit CBD, THC und/oder CBG zusammen („Entourage Effekt“). Bekannt wurde CBC in den 1980er Jahren vor allem aufgrund seiner Wirksamkeit gegen antibiotika-resistente Krankenhauskeime. Aufgrund seiner positiven synergistischen Effekte enthalten viele neuere medizinische Cannabis-Züchtungen erhöhte Mengen an CBC.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin THCV

Chemical molecular formula: C19H26O2
Molecular weight: 286.41 g/mol
Boiling point: < 220°C

Medical effects20,21,22: appetite-suppressing, regulates blood sugar (type 2 diabetes), neuroprotective, improves motor dysfunction (in animal models for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease)

THCV is an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors in low doses; further effect mechanisms are assumed to exist. The cannabinoid is slightly psychotropic (euphorigenic, energising, anxiety-relieving) and is currently being examined as an effective appetite-suppressant for obesity, among other uses. THCV is being further developed as a potential cannabinoid for the treatment of type 2 diabetics and related metabolic illnesses; the hope is that THCV could be an alternative to the substance Rimonabant, with lesser side effects. Furthermore, the neuroprotective effect and the influence of THCV on motor function offers opportunities for the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses. In the plant, THCV arises from the precursor cannabidivarin (CBDV). Higher concentrations of CBDV and THCV are found more frequently in Cannabis indica than in Cannabis sativa varieties.

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Cannabis Becomes Medicine

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