Contributor: KC Scannell
Even though marijuana is becoming more and more accepted, there is still a lot to learn about this miraculous plant. To be honest, the more one can educate themselves about the in’s and out’s of cannabis – the better. This sort of knowledge is truly invaluable, especially for those that rely and depend on marijuana (and its various forms) as medicinal and therapeutic aides.
It comes as no surprise to the average marijuana enthusiast just how beneficial cannabis is and can be. There is so much one can do with this amazing, natural element, that it is possible we don’t even know the extent of its amazingness yet. Which is why the scientific community is working around the clock to learn as much as they can about this truly phenomenal plant.
While the majority of us feel like we are fairly well-versed in the ways of cannabis, there is probably a lot of information the average stoner isn’t privy to as of yet. Which is totally fine. There is no expectation for the standard smoker to know everything about cannabis. In fact, few of us really know much. But, as I alluded to above, there is a wealth of information that awaits us, and the more our brains are receptive to such knowledge, the better off we will be when it comes time to procuring a cannabis product that seems tailor-made to fit our specific needs and wants.
A great starting point on the road to cannabis education is to begin with the basics. First, it should be known that marijuana (and hemp) produce a smattering of different compounds. These compounds, when activated via sunlight or heat, change their composure into more medicinal and therapeutic properties through a series called decarboxylation.
As I mentioned above, there are a few compounds that can be found in cannabis, and each of them has their very own array of benefits and effects. These initial compounds, through decarboxylation, transform themselves into more useful, more noticeable compounds known as cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are, essentially, genetic elements of marijuana that help our minds and bodies experience all sorts of effects. Some of them are specifically aimed at helping the consumer deal or recover from an injury – these are seen as more “physically-driven” cannabinoids.
Others help consumers who are dealing with an illness. They combat various aspects of the person’s ailments through medicinal properties that ultimately allow them to feel better in a much faster, much safer way than the typical opioid would have in this situation.
The most popular cannabinoids are (obviously) THC and CBD. THC, scientifically referred to as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive form of cannabis. This is what most recreational users love about the medium of marijuana. They find the cerebrally-focused effects to be incredibly beneficial and inspiring. Needless to say, creativity and artistic endeavors go hand-in-hand with this mentally-freeing cannabinoid.
CBD, on the other hand, is the non-psychoactive form of cannabis. This is usually used by consumers looking for a more mellow way to deal with their physical or mental ailments. There is no “high” with CBDs, which is why the majority of cannabis enthusiasts enjoy CBDs as a daily aide to help them tackle the day, only in a far more relaxed, controlled fashion.
Both THC and CBD aren’t just developed out of thin air. Each of these incredibly useful components of cannabis generate themselves after branching off from the ultra-cannabinoid known as, CBGA. Otherwise referred to as: Cannabigerolic Acid. This main hub of marijuana is able to produce three supreme cannabis compounds that, eventually, convert themselves into the more useful elements – via decarboxylation.
These three elements are CBDA, THCA, and CBCA. The “A” suffix indicates that it still needs the assistance of heat (and/or sunlight) in order to transform themselves into their useful components. In this case, majoritively being CBD and THC.
CBCA serves as the initial phase for a lesser used element. Although CBCA is readily known about, this component (cannabichromenic acid) is very beneficial in a number of different ways, as well. In short, these are all the most basic forms of what essentially makes cannabis the amazing plant that it is.
We know our fair share about THC, but the aspects of CBDA aren’t considered “common knowledge” just yet in the cannabis community. While many would think CBDA is essentially useless until decarboxylation occurs, they would be sorely mistaken. Currently, this raw form of CBD can be found inside various topicals, gel capsules, and tinctures.
While THC (and its precursor THCA) have their own way of going about their transformation and delivery process, CBDA goes by its own rules. By that I mean, most of these cannabinoids link up and latch onto the typical CB1 and/or CB2 receptors – but not CBDA. Rather than going that typical route, CBDA organically makes its way into the consumer’s endocannabinoid system by restraining a specific enzyme known as COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2).
Why stop these enzymes from doing what they do? Easy. These COX-2 enzymes are the main driving force behind any sort of inflammation suffered or experienced after an illness, injury, or infection. As I am sure you can already assume, anything that can prevent inflammation from occurring (or, at the very least worsening) is a tremendous benefit for those consumers who are currently dealing with discomfort or pain. It allows them to recover in a much more efficient way.
There has also been a litany of studies and tests done on CBDA that show how it drastically affects the consumer’s level of serotonin. Serotonin, for those unaware, assists humans in the most basic of ways. Things like eating, sleeping, and moving are directly relying on serotonin to help them function. Seeing as how CBDA does nothing but help the human body achieve those most basic goals – it is starting to be seen (and used) more than ever before.
But too much serotonin isn’t always a good thing. In fact, in cases where the consumer is undergoing cancer treatment, the body tends to produce far too much of this component, and it leads the consumer to fall ill with tremendous amounts of nausea and vomiting. However, CBDA is smart with how it affects the body – especially for patient’s suffering from such debilitating ailments.
Specifically, the 5-HT receptors are directly affected by CBDA. Which, in turn, means that CBDA can be used to combat an illness known as CINV – more commonly known as “Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea/Vomiting.” And anything that can help patients deal with the ongoing discomfort of treatments like this, is always a step in the right direction.
In short, CBDA has 100x more power for these specific 5-HT receptors when compared to its evolved version (CBD). Not only does this early-form cannabinoid help with nausea and alike, the positive effects it has on people with depression is truly astonishing. It is mainly because this component has a way of affecting a consumer’s SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) that is similar to most antidepressant medications that are currently available.
To be fair, there is still a whole lot we need to learn about this component, and its cannabis-related peers, before any hard-and-fast rules can be put into place. But the good news is: progress is being made. And the results that the scientific community is discovering seem to be immensely positive and beneficial. Hopefully, with a little more time (and a lot more research) we will finally learn everything there is to know about cannabis, and the tremendous amount of beneficial properties it can provide.