It’s hard to pin the exact number of cannabinoids in a strain of cannabis, but it’s safe to say they include more than just cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are the industry’s flagships. Scientists estimate that there are more than 100 cannabinoids, each with unique characteristics and effects when ingested or inhaled.
The industry’s interested, if not eager, in unlocking cannabis’s full potential by utilizing cannabinoids other than the two aforementioned. Recent market analyses report that the global cannabinoid market is expected to increase by billions of dollars in the coming years.
With the landscape slowly warming up to cannabis use, now is perhaps a good time to talk about lesser-known cannabinoids in the market. While they currently don’t enjoy as much market share as CBD and THC (or any of the so-called ‘Big Four’), they probably will if given a few years.
1. Cannabinol (CBN)
For all its alleged positive effects on one’s health, THC is also responsible for inducing a ‘high’ because of the way it binds with the body’s receptors. Upon ingesting or inhaling, the substance goes straight to the brain, prompting the release of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine. This is why it’s better to be cautious when under the influence of THC.
As a result, the industry has marketed other cannabinoids that don’t get people as ‘high’ as THC. CBD is one popular alternative, though another lesser-known example is CBN. CBN was first extracted in the 1940s and is unlike most cannabinoids originating from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Instead, CBN comes from THC and is a byproduct of THC degradation.
Although considered a minor cannabinoid with only trace amounts derived from cannabis, CBN has recently seen a surge in sales. A 2021 industry report showed that CBN consumables posted record revenue in three U.S. states where demand was inexistent before. A premium cannabis shop sells them as gummies, tinctures, capsules, or tea bags.
2. Cannabichromene (CBC)
CBC largely remains a mystery compared to most cannabinoids, but multiple studies suggest its potential lies in managing the body’s inflammatory response to pain. It isn’t as potent as other cannabinoids, as it doesn’t bind to the endocannabinoid receptors as much. CBC also increases anandamide, which may help with pain and other conditions like depression.
Currently, there aren’t many consumables in which CBC is the main ingredient. They exist in low concentrations among consumables where CBD or THC is the main ingredient. However, one study published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology discovered that the body tends to absorb CBC more than CBD or THC when consumed together.
It may not stay under the radar for long, though. According to a study spearheaded by Augusta University in 2021, CBC can be an effective treatment for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It was discovered that CBC managed to mitigate inflammatory responses and reverse hypoxia among mice test subjects.
3. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
Many people dub THCV as ‘diet weed’ for a reason. Research indicates that its effects include reduced appetite and increased metabolism, which is why the industry markets them as weight loss aids and—to an extent—for managing type-2 diabetes and obesity.
THCV is sometimes referred to as a ‘sports vehicle’ because of its ability to provide bursts of energy in high doses. It lacks the intoxication that THC induces, even though it shares similarities with the latter, due to its tendency to inhibit one of the receptors THC binds to.
As for THCV working alone, the scientific consensus remains unclear. Most THC consumables also contain THCV, often to keep the intoxicating effect to a minimum. Scientists are studying this probability, but growing THCV-rich strains has been a major hurdle in advancing any study regarding this substance.
The limited supply in circulation has made THCV consumables a premium in the cannabinoid market. Many manufacturers are isolating the substance, infusing their products with it, and slapping a hefty price tag on them. However, experts believe that more growers may be motivated to grow THCV-rich strains if there’s enough demand.
4. The Jury’s Still Out
The scientific community continues to look into the dozens of cannabinoids and their effects on the human body. While they remain a minority in the THC and CBD-dominated market, these cannabinoids are worth trying out due to their potential.
If you’re in the market for said cannabinoids, you may need a bit of patience in looking for the right store. More importantly, take any egregious claim of a cure-all with a grain of salt. Even with a growing number of studies, the jury’s still out on cannabis’s therapeutic effects on the human body.