Everyone talks about why cannabinoids are important but you hardly ever get an explanation of what they actually are. Cannabinoids are present in both hemp and cannabis plants. There at least 113 known cannabinoids. As more hemp and cannabis research is able to be conducted, additional cannabinoids could be discovered.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants. They’re found in the trichomes of the plants. Trichomes are little crystals that are visible on the exterior of hemp and cannabis plant buds. When a strain is rich in cannabinoids, it’ll almost look like it’s sparkling. The more crystals a strain produces, the stronger it is – most of the time. Some cannabis plants produce a lot of crystals but the THC content isn’t topping the charts. Just like snowflakes, every strain of hemp and cannabis is different.
Some of these chemical compounds do have intoxicating effects, but most are non-intoxicating.
The interact with multiple systems of your body creating a response. The goal of cannabinoids is to support balance in your body and support proper reactions.
Science is slowly uncovering the potential of each cannabinoid. Some are rarely studied because they are not very abundant in either cannabis or hemp plants.
The most well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the cannabinoid that is illegal over 0.3% in hemp. It is also the cannabinoid that is responsible for producing intoxicating effects. The higher the THC concentration, the stronger the effects will be.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most well-known cannabinoid. While it is present in cannabis strains, it is concentrated much more heavily in hemp. There are only a handful of cannabis strains that have more CBD and THC including ACDC, CannaTsu and Harlequin.
Cannabinol (CBN) is another cannabinoid that there is more of than others. It can be present in hemp as well. When THC starts to breakdown as it ages and oxidizes, it becomes cannabinol. If you use hemp flower and notice that it makes you a little sleepier than it did a month ago, this is because that small amount of THC is converting to cannabinol. Cannabinol cannot be extracted from raw hemp or cannabis plants because there isn’t much of it until THC starts to convert. This is why you don’t see any CBN isolate or CBN-rich tinctures, edibles or concentrates available.
Cannabidiolic acid is known as CBDa. This is the inactive version of CBD. CBDa is found in raw hemp and cannabis. It doesn’t convert to CBD until it is exposed to heat. This process is known as decarboxylation. CBDa, via scientific discovery, appears to hold many of the same properties as its activated version, CBD.
We’ll go into more detail about cannabinoids in the near future. This guide is simply to give you some base information to explain what a cannabinoid is, where it comes from and what they do in your body. Your body, as we mentioned, creates endocannabinoids itself --- but it can’t always produce enough, so sometimes an outside source of cannabinoids from hemp CBD products may be desired.