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Cannabis Constituents Part One: Phytocannabinoids


By this point, we can assume that you’re starting to become familiar with the endocannabinoid system and the two types of cannabinoids — endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. As a refresher, ‘endocannabinoids’ are cannabinoids produced by the body (“endo-” meaning “internal”) whereas ‘phytocannabinoids’ are produced by a plant (“phyto-” meaning “relating to plants”). It wasn’t until the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the 1980s that scientists realized that there many other cannabinoids exist besides tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While there are a variety of plants that contain cannabinoids, such as pepper, cacao, flax seed, and echinacea (think of daisies), right now we want to focus on the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant.

The Other Guys

There have been over 100 phytocannabinoids isolated from the cannabis plant. Of these 100+ cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant, there are some that are better understood than others. Of course, you have THC and cannabidiol (CBD), but there is also cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabicyclol (CBL), and cannabivarin (CBV) – just to name a few. What’s cool about each of these cannabinoids is that they interact with the endocannabinoid system in different ways. You know about psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD, but what about these other guys? But, before we begin, you need to understand where these cannabinoids come from.

Cannabinoid Acids

The cannabinoid compounds that we have just listed above are made from the cannabinoid acids produced by the cannabis plant. Some of these acids include: cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabichromenenic acid (CBCA), cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA), tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid (THCVA), cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA), and cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA). When these acids are exposed to heat (decarboxylation), they become the compounds we know them as. Essentially, just remove the ‘A’ from the end of the abbreviation or the ‘acid’ from the name and there you have a plethora of familiar cannabinoids. Now, let’s talk about two of our favorite (and best understood) cannabinoids that come from these acids: CBN and CBG.

Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN is actually a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has potential anti-inflammatory properties. However, it does not possess the strong psychoactive properties that THC does. Because it is essentially a byproduct of metabolized THC, it is often times found within aged cannabis. Preliminary research suggests that CBN can possibly help you get a better night’s sleep and it’s potentially a great additive when it comes to beauty products, but so far we have found that CBN works best in conjunction with products containing other cannabinoids.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

Ah, CBG – the “parent” compound responsible for creating THC and CBD. Due to the fact that CBG is converted into other compounds, it is considered a minor constituent of cannabis since most plants contain only 1% or less of CBG. That’s not much, but for what it’s worth, CBG can potentially make a big impact on in regards to ocular health, digestive health, and even combating cancer cell growth. To date, there has been no CBG clinical research on humans so while the current research seems promising, there is still a lot to determine.

Full Spectrum vs. Isolates

In conclusion, when we talk about products being “isolates” (CBD only) versus “full spectrum”, it means that within the product there is a variety of other cannabinoids and terpenes – in addition to the CBD. Yes, we know that we just threw the term “terpenes” at you, but don’t worry, we will discuss those aromatic little compounds at another time. For now, enjoy our wide variety of full spectrum products and should you have any questions or concerns, please shoot us an email at or give us a call at (571) 799-9914 and we’d be more than happy to assist you!