List of Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis And Their Effects

Nikhil Goswami

Cannabis is one of the most ancient plant strains. It has been around since 2000 BC and has played a distinct role in various cultures and traditions. Kingdoms across the world have used cannabis for its medicinal and healing properties. Experts used to prepare tonics and balms that could provide comfort and soothe the pain. Over time people also started consuming cannabis as a recreational drug.

The increased usage has led governments under the pressure of legalizing cannabis across the world. The positive attitude towards cannabis use has also promoted its research. Characterizing the compounds of cannabis is the essential stepping stone. It can open the horizons for further development and insights.

The Cannabinoids in the Cannabis

There are plenty of cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. There are more than 1600 chemicals present in the cannabis strain. Out of these, 180 substances show the properties of cannabinoids. However, there is no accurate estimate of the amount yet. These are usually divided into major and minor cannabinoids.

Major Cannabinoids

The major cannabinoids account for 95% biomass of the cannabis plants. Their higher quantity eases the process of extraction and isolation. Therefore, it is more feasible to convert them into substances of commercial use. As a result, most of the cannabinoid research in the domain is on these substances. The major cannabinoids we hear about are CBD, THC, and CBC.

These have both healing and medicinal properties. People are becoming highly inclined toward the consumption of these substances. However, these are not the only major cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. According to recent data, 8 chemicals occupy the major portion of plant and cannabinoid research. Each of these compounds is speculated to have a distinct or supportive effect.

  • THC
  • THCV
  • CBD
  • CBDV
  • CBG
  • CBGV
  • CBC
  • CBC

Cannabinoid Acids

These compounds are usually in the form of acidic intermediates. These are non-active substances with no psychoactive effects. Recent studies suggest that these cannabinoid acids might have some therapeutic benefits. These may include properties that can fight internal swelling within cells or organs and prevent the disease from exacerbating. Moreover, these substances can provide the required effect on low doses. However, the research in this domain is insufficient to use them as drugs.

These cannabinoid acids contain the chemical group called carboxylic acid. Hence these are carboxylated. It is essential to remove this chemical group to activate them. For this purpose, certain processes, such as heating, are quite effective. It decarboxylates the cannabinoid acids turning them into reactive species with therapeutic and psychoactive effects.

The cannabinoid acids include THCA, CBCA, CBGVA, etc. There is an inclusion of ‘A’ at the end of all the substances to identify them as cannabinoid acids.

Minor Cannabinoids

These are usually present in trace amounts, and the low quantity makes it increasingly difficult to isolate these substances. Even if they are separated, it is quite complex to characterize them due to their unstable nature. However, cannabinoid researchers focus on getting these substances and using them for their healing properties.

Once we gather the information on individual compounds of minor cannabinoids, we can produce them on a large scale. We can also turn these into drugs to channel their healing properties for various chronic diseases and get optimal physical and mental health benefits.

Cannabinoid Precursors

There are two types of cannabinoid precursors. Cannabinoid research has progressed so much over the years that you can understand this process at the molecular level.

These give rise to most cannabinoids through a biochemical pathway. The process recruits several plant enzymes that help to split down the substances into cannabinoids and intermediates.


The CBGA precursor forms the most abundant cannabinoids, such as THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. This initial component is formed by enzymatic activity and adding a particular chemical group. The chemical becomes an acidic cannabinoid precursor that favors further splitting into major cannabinoid acids.

The CBGA acts as a core intermediate, and it employs three separate enzymes of the synthetase category. These enzymes are specialized for producing new chemical compounds from a precursor. The structural and functional changes occur in the original molecule, generating the three main cannabinoid acids.


The CBGVA precursor forms CBDV, CBCV, and THCV. Structural and functional differences exist between these substances and the rest of the cannabinoids. Moreover, the structures are somewhat similar to the cannabinoid acids but usually shorter. Moreover, the splitting occurs with the help of enzymes.

The formation of intermediates is not common in this step. The precursor directly translates into the product molecules. Some of these substances also have therapeutic properties.

The precursor also acts as a medicinal compound. It has applications in epilepsy. The substance prevents the seizure state or may help the patient from coming out of it. Therefore, it is used as an anticonvulsant.

It has shown potential results in animal models of mice and rats. The clinical trials on humans have not begun yet. Moreover, plenty of research is required in this area before it is prescribed as a common drug.

Conversion of Cannabinoid Acids into Cannabinoids

The cannabis plant provides us with cannabinoid acids. These are not effective and remain inactive. Therefore, they must be treated externally to convert into active metabolites.

These acids are susceptible to high temperatures. They may instantly degrade when exposed to slight heat. Therefore, the experts must design particular temperature and pressure conditions for these substances to prevent them from being damaged.

Liquid Extract Formation

The target is to obtain a plant extract containing a substantial amount of acids. Afterward, these acids are turned into liquid by passing them through certain converters. These usually have a pressure of 11Pa, and the temperature varies to 200°C.

Any changes in temperature and pressure can result in the formation of metabolites. These are usually useless; however, they can also be toxic. Therefore, the heating process occurs in a secluded area under expert surveillance.

These acidic plant cannabinoids turn into neutral substances. In some cases, the endogenous cannabinoids go through a temperature of 80 to 160°C. As a result, 6 neutral cannabinoids are produced.

Uses of Liquid Extraction

This process of liquid extraction is highly conventional. It completely uses the plant cannabinoid extract. The step is a revolutionizing milestone because obtaining a high quantity of plant cannabinoids is essential. It helps in getting the substances that are usually in smaller amounts. Moreover, it minimizes the production of waste and toxic metabolites.

This temperature and pressure preset can help companies utilize the plant cannabis to its full potential. Moreover, they can produce medicinal plant cannabinoids on a large scale.

The Effect of the Plant Cannabinoids

The effects of the plant cannabinoids differ from each other, and therefore their applications vary in medicine and science. Various studies show that using the cannabis plant is always beneficial.

Some reports also suggest that the effects of the cannabis plant can be subjective. However, these differentiating narratives usually have negligible outcomes because they may rely on the subject’s emotional state. Hence, they cannot be applied to an entire research cohort, study group, or population.

Action on the Brain

There are chemicals in our brains that modulate our behavior and body responses. They are called neurotransmitters.

The presynaptic neuron releases them, and these chemicals then transfer to another neuron responsible for directing the effects.

Neurotransmitter Release

Most cannabinoids bind to the effector neuron and can influence the production of chemicals from presynaptic neurons. Your body gets an unusual amount of dopamine or serotonin, which helps it relax and feel better. Therefore, natural cannabinoids can be quite beneficial.


It is one of the most abundant compounds in the cannabis plant. Moreover, it is the only substance with psychoactive effects. There are two forms of THC that industries usually produce for their products.

These include delta 8 and 9. Delta 9 is the most effective form of THC and has an intoxicating effect. There are multiple ways to consume THC, and you can find gummies, flowers, brownies, and pods.

The most instant way to get your required dose of THC is by smoking a blunt. It instantly contacts your blood and travels from blood to the central nervous system. You get to feel the overall effects of THC in your body due to its activity in the brain.

Effect on EC

The central nervous system has another network consisting of various cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoid system (EC). The endocannabinoid system consists of two types of receptors CB1 and CB2.

These cannabinoid receptors allow the binding of THC and are essential to produce psychoactive effects. THC has a high affinity for CB1 receptors. The receptors are widely present across the central nervous system. Moreover, the endocannabinoid system has several functions.

It influences your mood, addiction, memory, behaviors, and pain-processing abilities. When THC binds to the receptors, it induces a dopamine surge in your brain. As a result, you may get high, a euphoric feeling that may last for a few hours. You also use THC vape pens to influence your mood.

The effects of THC on your mind can be useful and damaging, and you may even develop a drug addiction that can worsen your mental health problems. However, the effects of THC may depend upon your daily dose and consumption product. If you monitor your intake, you can channel the positive effects. High doses of THC may induce severe anxiety and put you at an increased risk of depression.


CBD has healing properties. It can help you with several medical ailments. CBD reduces the effects of THC. It does not have a high affinity for the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system. However, it affects the binding ability of THC with the receptors. As a result, it may subdue the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD inhibits the signal emerging out of the endocannabinoid system to reduce the THC binding. You can also look for best CBD flower, if you are interested.

It may alter the pain perception ability of your body by working on the endocannabinoid system. As a result, you get a soothing effect that relaxes your mind and body. CBD paired with THC may grant anti-inflammatory properties and help during epilepsy seizures. CBD isolates usually do not have any THC. They can help you with stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. CBD is available in several forms, such as oils, edibles, and tinctures.

The calming effect of CBD may also help you fight insomnia. Therefore, you can incorporate CBD into your daily routine to see the beneficial effects in the longer run. You can use CBD and THC as prescription medications to improve the quality of your lifestyle.


The cannabinoid is present in quite a small amount in the cannabis plant. It may not have prevalent or highly influential effects on your body. However, it may act as a mediator.

It reduces the binding ability of THC to the receptors, decreasing the compound’s psychoactive tendencies. Moreover, taking a higher dosage may even start mimicking the effects of THC on your body.


CBC is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid substance. It does not cast any negative effects on your body like THC, and it may help you with anxiety and depression. However, there are still some loopholes in the research on CBC.

The Formation of CBN

CNB, or cannabinol, is a corresponding cannabinoid that forms from THC. It is not present in the plant, and it is produced when the storing conditions of THC are not proper.


It would be best if you kept THC where there is low oxygen exposure. However, the formation of this corresponding cannabinoid is unavoidable for older THC strains in your home. Therefore, you must use the THC instantly, keep smaller amounts or store it in a suitable place.

Effects of CBN

When the substance unites with THC, it acts like a potent sedative. Therefore, you should not use such products which may have CBN. It may have therapeutic effects in case of stopping seizures. However, there is no substantial scientific evidence of these effects yet.

Wrapping Up

We hope this article helped you learn the major terms, benefits, and side effects associated with cannabis. We suggest you tread carefully when using a cannabis supplement. Good luck!

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