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    In-depth look at phytocannabinoids

    In-depth look at phytocannabinoids

    The most prevalent phytocannabinoid in the cannabis plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It constitutes between 12 and 20 per cent of the dried content in some strains and up to 25 to 30 per cent in more potent varieties. 

    THC is the compound that creates the high associated with recreational use. It binds to what are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. It behaves in a similar way to the body’s own endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG.

    Yet, it also interacts with other neurotransmitter systems including, for example, the opioids systems and the 5HT1A receptors. Its effect on the body, therefore, is not purely through the endocannabinoid system. 

    THC has many medicinal properties. In particular, we know it:

    • Has analgesic properties
    • Is anti-inflammatory
    • Is a muscle relaxant
    • Has anti-nausea effects
    • Is anti-oxidant

    The second most common cannabinoid in the plant – and the most prevalent non-psychoactive one - is Cannabidiol, CBD. While it binds to the endocannabinoid system, its mode of action is largely through activating other neurotransmitter systems. This includes the adenosine-serotonin-ovanuloid receptors.

    CBD has medicinal properties in its own right, including anti-anxiety and anticonvulsant qualities. As an example, it is the only constituent of GW Pharma’s Epidiolex – a pure or at least 99.9 per cent pure CBD product licensed in the US to treat childhood-resistant epilepsies.

    CBD is also believed to have:

    • Some anti-cancer effects
    • Neuroprotective qualities
    • Analgesic properties

    A particularly useful characteristic of CBD is that it tends to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. This makes non-psychoactive medicines containing both THC and CBD viable. The psychoactive effect of a relatively small amount of THC can be cancelled out with a relatively large amount of CBD.

    Before advice is given to patients, however, the THC/CBD ratio of each medicine must be clearly understood. Most manufacturers produce several CBD/THC varieties. In Canada, for example, at least five different varieties are produced by manufacturers. They include ones which are high in CBD and low in THC - and vice versa – and more balanced varieties containing broadly similar proportions of THC and CBD. Each has their own particular medicinal value.

    Alongside THC and CBD, there are well over 100 other cannabinoids. Some of these so-called minor cannabinoids have been found to have medicinal properties in studies; although relatively little is known about most of them. In the natural plant all the cannabinoids are in their acidic form, and for medicine generally they have to go through a chemical process called decarboxylation which translates the acidic form to the non acidic form.  And it is the non acidic cannabinoids that are used for their medicinal properties. 

    So lets now have a look at the cannabinoid pathway. 

    CBGA is the acidic precursor of cannabigerol (CBG) and is matabolised to the acidic forms of THC, CBD, and CBC, Cannabichromene.

    In animal models at least, CBG is known to have:

    • Anti-cancer effects
    • Anti-inflammatory properties
    • Anti-bacterial qualities
    • An appetite-stimulating effect
    • Positive effects on the bladder
    • A role in glaucoma management

    CBG is also broken down into cannabichromene (CBCA). Cbda and thca.


    Its medicinal properties include:

    • Anti-inflammation
    • Anticonvulsant effects
    • Some anti-cancer effects

    It is not psychoactive until it has undergone the decarboxylation process – essentially adding heat.

    CBDA is the acidic precursor of CBD.

    Its medical properties include:

    • Anti-nausea
    • Anti-inflammation
    • Some anti-cancer effects

    It is decarboxylated to become CBD. 

    Cannabichromene (CBCA) is the acidic precursor of CBC.

    Its medical properties include:

    • Anti-cancer effects
    • Anti-inflammation

    It is decarboxylated to become CBC.


    There is a parallel pathway called the varin pathway.  CBGVA is the acidic precursor of the varin variety of CBG, known as CBGV. CBGV is broken down into CBDVA, THCVA and CBCVA, which are decarboxylated to the varin varieties of CBD, THC and CBC.

    Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is the varin variety of THC.

    It is known to:

    • Have a positive effect on bone growth
    • Alleviate anxiety
    • Have anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties

    It is also known as a strong appetite suppressant and may have an important role to play in obesity management in future.

    Cannabichromevarin (CBDV) is the varin variety of CBD.

    Its medicinal properties include:

    • Anti convulsant
    • Crohns

    Cannabichromevarin (CBCV) is the varin variety of CBC.

    Its medicinal properties include:

    • Analgesic
    • Inflammation
    • And maybe an effect on depression

    The last one I want to mention is cannabinol (CBN).

    This is a break down product of THC.

    It is known to:

    • Aid sleep
    • Stimulate appetite
    • Promote bone growth – after a fracture, for example
    • Offer analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anticonvulsive properties.

    Hide & Seek thank The Academy of Medicinal Cannabis (TAOMC) for allowing us to use the research they provided in this blog. Helping us bring knowledge to you.

    Hide & Seek do not verify the any claims above, but with further scientific research we’ll be able to give definitive answers to what TAOMC suggest.

    This blog is intended for informational and educational purposes and contains the opinions of the author based on personal research. This blog is not a substitute for taking specific advice from a healthcare professional for any condition or disease. Any course of treatment for medical, lifestyle or wellbeing purposes should only be done under the direct guidance of a registered physician or regulated healthcare professional where legal.
    This blog is not a substitute for medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition or disease or to be used in place of physician's advice in any manner. 
    In the UK, hemp CBD products are currently legal to buy without a prescription as a wellness product. The FSA has recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women and those taking other medication should not take CBD without advice from their doctors.