Cannabis Anatomy

Cannabis Anatomy

Deconstructing the Cannabis Plant

Even the most experienced cannabis consumers may not be fully aware of the complex components that make up the cannabis plant and the various products that result from it.

It is crucial to gain an understanding of the basic anatomy of cannabis to ensure responsible consumption.

With hundreds of cannabis varieties currently available on the market, it is crucial to gain an understanding of its basic anatomy and the different ways these varieties can affect your mental and physical state. Did you know that every strain of cannabis has a unique ratio of THC and CBD that will dictate its effects on your body and mind?

The Science of Cannabinoids

Cannabis is made up of hundreds of chemical substances.

Over 100 of these substances are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are made and stored in the plant’s trichomes, which are the clear hairs that stick out from the plant’s flowers and leaves. They are diverse chemical compounds that attach themselves to cannabinoid receptors in our body’s cells and change how these cells behave and communicate with each other.

CBD and THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary and most researched cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis plant. CBD and THC have the exact same chemical makeup: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. What differentiates these two cannabinoids is the arrangement of a single atom.

Both CBD and THC interact with cannabinoid receptors, but they differ dramatically in their effects on the mind and body. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it produces no intoxicating effects on the user. Because of this attribute, CBD is more commonly found in dietary and natural supplements.

CBD

Cannabidiol does not produce any psychoactive effects. This quality makes CBD an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms.

THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the cannabinoid most associated with the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of cannabis.

Cannabis has been used therapeutically for thousands of years

Cannabis has been used therapeutically for thousands of years.

Research into the psychotropic effects of the plant has led to the discovery of cannabinoids, which are now separated into 3 classes: phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.

Lesser known cannabinoids include CBN, CBG and CBC.

Components of Phytocannabinoids

Scientists have only recently gained a thorough understanding of different cannabinoids and their potential medical benefits. Over 100 naturally occurring compounds are found in the cannabis plant. The most common cannabinoids include CBDsa, CBD, THCa, THC, THCV and CBDV.

Lesser known cannabinoids include CBN, CBG and CBC.

Components of Phytocannabinoids

Scientists have only recently gained a thorough understanding of different cannabinoids and their potential medical benefits. Over 100 naturally occurring compounds are found in the cannabis plant. The most common cannabinoids include CBDsa, CBD, THCa, THC, THCV and CBDV.

CBC: Cannabichromene

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. CBC shows potential for relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and inhibiting cancer and tumor cell growth.

CBD: The by-product of heating CBDA

One of the primary cannabinoids derived from cannabis.

Lacks the psychotropic effects of THC and has been extensively researched for its medicinal and therapeutic potential.

The slight variance in atom arrangement marks the difference in the way THC an CBD effect the body. THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce a sense of high or intoxication. CBD, however, forms a very weak bond with the CB1 receptors and can interfere with the binding of THC to reduce its psychoactive effects.

Research suggests that CBD may be useful in aiding with the symptoms and conditions associated with:

  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Arthritis
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • ADHD
  • Heart Disease
  • Bacterial infections

Overall, the lower risks of CBD, combined with the medical benefits produced when it interacts with the body, make it an ideal candidate for natural applications.

CBDA: Cannabidolic acid

Occurs naturally in the cannabis plant and is used to produce CBD.

CBDV: Cannabidivarin

A less known cannabinoid that is currently under investigation for its potential in alleviating symptoms of epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder.

CBG: Cannabigerol

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that occurs very minimally (<1%) in the cannabis plant, CBG is known to have antibacterial properties. CBG can be responsible for slowing bacterial growth, promoting bone growth and inhibiting cancer and tumor cell growth.

Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is the precursor to the three main cannabinoids that most people are familiar with: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). In most strains, when CBGA is exposed to ultraviolet light or heat, it is converted into either THCA or CBDA.

Scientists have recently become excited about the potential health benefits of CBG and are promoting more research. CBG has been found to interact with specific physiological systems which results in promising medicinal uses:

  • Effective Glaucoma Treatment CBG receptors are thought to bind with the endocannabinoid receptors that are prevalent in eye structures to reduce intraocular pressure. This makes it effective in treating glaucoma.
  • Anti-Bacterial CBG contains anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-septic properties. Topical forms of CBG can be effective in fighting skin infections. Studies are now finding that CBG can slow the progression and growth of various tumors and cancer cells.
  • Brain Cell Degeneration CBG has been shown to possess neuroprotective properties, making it a possible treatment in slowing brain cell degeneration in Huntington’s Disease.
CBN: Cannbinol

A mildly psychoactive cannabinoid with very little existence in fresh plants. CBN is produced from the degradation of THC. This process is known to create a sedative effect.

THC: Commonly known as delta 9, THC is the by-product of heating THCA

THC is a major cannabinoid derived from cannabis. It is primarily responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana. THC has both recreational and therapeutic uses.

Scientists have only recently gained a thorough understanding of different cannabinoids and their potential medical benefits. Over 100 naturally occurring compounds are found in the cannabis plant. The most common cannabinoids include CBDsa, CBD, THCa, THC, THCV and CBDV.

THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including the high and intoxication experienced with recreational cannabis use. While THC has some therapeutic effects, it can also be harmful depending on its potency. The potency (concentration) of THC in cannabis is often shown as a percentage of THC by weight (or by volume of an oil) and varies based on form. THC potency in dried cannabis can reach a potency of up to 30% as opposed to the 3% maximum found in cannabis oils. THC and CBD possess many of the same medical benefits and can provide relief from several conditions. However, the euphoric and psychoactive effects that come with THC use have made CBD a more popular choice for individuals seeking medical relief.

The temporary effects of THC include:

  • Relaxation
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Red eyes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Slower reaction times
  • Altered senses of sight, smell, and hearing

THCA: Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid

Occurs naturally in the cannabis plant and is used to produce THC.

THCV: Tetrahydrocannabivarin

A less known cannabinoid that is still under investigation for its potential benefits in aiding with symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease, insulin sensitivity, and type 2 diabetes.