Phytocannabinoids have been used as therapeutic agents for over 4000 years. From ancient Chinese and European medicine to the introduction to North America in the latter part of the 18th century, cannabis has had a place in health and wellbeing of humans for a very long time. The major constituents we will discuss here today are flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids.
Flavonoids are not terpenes, which is a common misconception. These make up approximately 10% of known biological compounds within cannabis, although they are found to occur naturally within flowers, fruits, and even vegetables. These, like terpenes, affect taste and smell but are also produced in cannabis to assist in pigment production. Cannaflavins are flavonoids which are only found in cannabis. Just like terpenes, these too interact with cannabinoids synergistically. Many of these have been studied and found to have positive health benefits. Cannaflavin A has anti-inflammatory properties that may outdo aspirin. Catechin is a powerful antioxidant. Cannaflavin B/C, Orientin, Quercetin, Silymarin, and Kaempferol have all been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.
Terpenes are a very powerful constituent of cannabis. They are doubly aromatic compounds found in many plants and even some insects. The cannabinoids specific effect is always the same, albeit slightly different from person to person and dependent on dosage, but the addition of different terpenes in different amounts and ratios is what sets strains apart from one another. There have been many studies recently suggesting just how powerful they are, in fact, leading to LD50 studies concerning their massive effect not only synergistically with cannabinoids, but also their direct effect on the body. If cannabinoids are a mallet, then terpenes are a sledgehammer and they deserve respect. A major example many are familiar with would be limonene, the terpene that gives lemons their sharp citrus smell.
Now for the main event… Cannabinoids. More specifically, phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced in plants, almost all of which have been heavily isolated and at least structurally studied from the cannabis plant. 113 phytocannabinoids have been identified so far originating from the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are also produced within our bodies and are called endocannabinoids, but we’ll discuss those more at a later date. The cannabis plant produces Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) which many (if not all) other cannabinoids are enzymatically derived from. CBGA is converted to Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), Cannabichromenic Acid (CBCA), and 𝚫⁹-THCA (𝚫⁹-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) which all have different roles in the plant, and after decarboxylation hold many different roles in our bodies. They can help with chronic pain, inflammation, seizures, epilepsy, insomnia, diabetes, and anxiety. They can also be antianxiolytic, antiemetic, and the list goes on. Currently, phase III and phase IV studies are being conducted in the US on many different cannabinoids.
Next posting we’ll be looking at individual cannabinoids and their generic roles within the body. I’ll also be including a few scientific papers each posting, so if you’re in the mood for more information you can get that here too!
Remember: you can always send questions and comments to BlackhouseBotanicalsBlog@gmail.com. See you next time!