top of page

What are Phytocannabinoids ?

Phyto-cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant mimic the behavior of endocannabinoids, which bind to receptors throughout your body within the endocannabinoid system. Three of the most recognizable phyto-cannabinoids are THC, THCa, & CBD. There are many “minor” cannabinoids as well, some of which have been extensively studied by researchers, such as CBN, CBC, & CBG. The potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids and photo-cannabinoids are being explored at a scientific level for the treatment of diverse illnesses.


The most common, THC is the one famous for making you feel, well, how you feel when you smoke a joint.


THCA is how THC exists in the plant before it converts into THC. While THC and THCA offer similar benefits, THCA is non-intoxicating. That means if you take THCA products orally, you won’t feel high, but if you vape them or otherwise heat flower before consuming it, it’ll turn into THC and give you that famous heady effect. THCA is generally believed to relieve inflammation, as well as offer relief from symptoms like arthritis.


CBD is another major cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THCa, CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it will not cause any “high” or impairing effects, but it does have an impact on your mind, often in the realm of anxiety. Full effects occur after 3 to 4 weeks of use. There are a lot of purported benefits for CBD, including relief of symptoms related to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and chronic pain. 


CBDA is a precursor to CBD. It won’t turn into CBD unless activated through heat. CBDA is said to be beneficial in reducing inflammation and pain and can be consumed via tinctures, topical creams, and more.


The research into CBG is quite impressive. Early insight suggests that CBG can work to fight inflammation and pain. Its effects are similar to CBD. Certain studies have also demonstrated that CBG can slow the proliferation of cancer cells. CBG is also recommended for daytime use as it may boost focus and motivation. 


CBGA is a unique compound found in cannabis. It’s the chemical precursor to three major cannabinoids: THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. It’s often thought of as the “grandfather” of cannabinoids. CBGA can also convert to CBG but primarily becomes THCA, CBDA, and CBCA as the plant grows. CBGA has shown antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative properties in its original form.


CBN is what forms when THC degrades due to light, heat, and exposure to oxygen. Most cannabis contains less than 1% CBN initially. However, there are some cultivars with more potential to produce CBN than others. There’s still a lot of research to be done on CBN, but some studies suggest that it can be therapeutic in reducing pain and inflammation signals from the body to the brain.  While the effects of CBN are similar to CBD, CBN is recommended for nighttime use as it does offer muscle relaxation and sedation properties. 


CBC is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid. There is still much more research needed to be done on CBC. However, it has shown potential as a beneficiary in treating pain, improving brain function, and fighting depression. CBC contains high anti-inflammatory properties with effects similar to CBD. It may also relieve stomach pain associated with Crohn's disease.


THCV is a unique cannabinoid found in cannabis. Like THC, THCV does offer psychoactive effects, but there are some apparent differences. For example, while THC is a known appetite stimulant, THCV, on the other hand, has been found to suppress appetites while working to help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. 


Cannabis has received regulatory approval for spasticity in disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Dravet, & Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes (Russo, 2018). Currently, researchers are exploring other medicinal applications such as neurological & psychiatric, digestive, pain, and more. 
Russo EB. Cannabis Therapeutics and the Future of Neurology. Front Integr Neurosci. 2018 Oct 18;12:51. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2018.00051. PMID: 30405366; PMCID: PMC6200872.
Canadian Pharmacists Association (2018). Cannabis for medical purposes evidence guide.

bottom of page