The Beginner’s Guide to THC, CBD, and Other Cannabinoids
Whether you’re a long-time cannabis user or completely new to the plant, there’s a lot of information to learn if you want to get the most out of your experiences. Many people who have been using cannabis for decades are only familiar with THC, as this was the only cannabinoid that was well-understood and used for many years. Today, we see a vast selection of cannabis products, and many include little to no THC at all! If you’re not sure what it all means, don’t fret. We’ve put together this simple beginner’s guide to THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.
Wait, what are cannabinoids?
Before we dive into the most common cannabinoids, you’ll need some background on what that means. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. They are unique compounds, as they specifically interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body.
These receptors are found throughout the body, and their different locations can influence the effects users experience. There are currently two main types of cannabinoid receptors identified: Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2).
When cannabinoids are consumed, they bind with these two receptors. Some cannabinoids have more affinity for one receptor over another, which can influence the effects experienced.
THC, for example, binds primarily to CB1 receptors, which are abundant in the brain. CB1 receptors are found throughout the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and spinal cord regions. Since THC binds strongly with CB1 receptors in these areas, it influences memory processing, pain regulation, and motor control. Additionally, other cannabinoids that also have a high affinity for CB1 receptors, may have similar effects.
All about THC, the most abundant cannabinoid
For most people, THC is the first cannabinoid that cannabis users familiarize themselves with. That’s because it is generally the most abundant cannabinoid in all strains, and is by far the most understood cannabinoid overall.
THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the primary cannabinoid in cannabis that gets users high.
As we mentioned earlier, THC produces many effects in the brain. In the short term, it can make users feel relaxed, sleepy, or hungry. But those are not the only possible effects. Many THC users also experience increased anxiety or feelings of paranoia.
Many things can influence these effects. Most people do not consume isolated THC, but rather use cannabis products with a wide cannabinoid and terpene profile. THC is usually the most abundant, but the overall effects of a strain may be shaped by other cannabinoids present. For example, strains with higher than usual levels of CBD are suggested to help protect against adverse psychological effects of THC, even if the product still has a high THC content.
Whether the strain is an indica or sativa will also have an influence over the experienced effects. Indica strains are typically more relaxing and calm, whereas sativa strains are more energizing and euphoric, but for some people, can be too stimulating.
All about CBD, the second most abundant cannabinoid
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is typically the second most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis. The simplest way to dive into the differences between THC and CBD is to make this distinction: CBD is non-intoxicating and THC is intoxicating.
We mentioned earlier that THC is responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis because it binds with receptors throughout the brain. CBD is different. While it is a cannabinoid, it doesn’t have a very strong binding affinity with CB1 or CB2 receptors. It does, however, have the ability to antagonize and modulate these receptors indirectly, causing unique effects.
While we mentioned that CBD is non-intoxicating, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many CBD-rich products that also get users high. These products also contain THC and other cannabinoids, so the CBD is still not responsible for the intoxication.
CBD shares many traits with THC and other cannabinoids, despite its differences. For example, THC and CBD can both potentially alleviate pain, either in their isolated form or with a combination of the two. Both compounds have great potential for reducing seizure activity in people with epilepsy, too. In fact, an isolated form of CBD is FDA-approved for two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, making it the first CBD medication to be FDA-approved in the United States.
CBN, CBG, and other cannabinoids
If you’ve ever visited our Fitchburg weed store or looked at our online menu, you may notice that we don’t just offer THC and CBD products. You may notice some other three letter combinations. We’ll give you a brief overview of them.
CBN – cannabinol
CBN is a cannabinoid that has made its way to the mainstream only recently. It is typically produced when harvested cannabis ages, allowing the THC to gradually convert into CBN.
It has been suggested to help with improving sleep and reducing pain. It’s not normally available in an isolated form, as it is much less abundant than THC or CBD. However, there are many sleep blends made with a combination of CBN with THC and/or CBD. In fact, we have some CBN sleep blends available at our Fitchburg dispensary. The MXR Sleep Dropper, for example, is made from both CBN and THC.
CBG – cannabigerol
CBG is another cannabinoid that you may hear about when diving into the world of cannabis. Like CBD, it may provide therapeutic effects without intoxication. It’s thought to work by binding to both cannabinoid receptors and strengthening anandamide, a cannabinoid the human body creates itself.
Much like CBN, you’re not going to find isolated CBG in many places. Instead, you may see blends containing CBN among other cannabinoids. For example, we have CBN-infused gummies from COAST available at our Fitchburg pot shop. These gummies are a balanced blend of CBD, THC, and CBG, which works to create specific, balanced, and uplifting effects.
The bottom line
If you’re new to the world of cannabis, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the variety of products on the market. Keep in mind that cannabis strains, unless specifically cultivated to contain super high amounts of something, typically have a blend of many cannabinoids.
Not sure where to start? Take it slow and start with low amounts. Many people find that they need to experiment with a variety of products before finding the perfect cannabis strain or product for their lifestyle. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to one of the friendly budtenders at our Fitchburg dispensary. We’re here to help.
Stop by our Fitchburg dispensary to stock up on all things cannabis. We are a recreational dispensary located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, serving all guests 21 or over with legal identification. We carry a wide selection of brands with a variety of categories like cannabis flower, concentrates, pre-rolled joints, vaporizer cartridges, edibles, infused drinks, tinctures, topicals, and accessories. Give us a follow on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.