Within a few years, the component of cannabis called CBD (cannabidiol) went from a relatively dark molecule to a health care fad that has hit the world, producing billions in sales, millions of consumers, CBD workout clothes, pillow cases and hamburgers – you name it it. The concerns of such a speedy introduction are that the excitement may well be way above actual science and that there are safety issues such as drug interactions that momentarily diminish the enthusiasm for treating chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and more from the other conditions of which CBD is believed to provide relief.
However, cannabis is made up of around 600 different molecules, around 140 of which are named cannabinoids because they act on our body’s endocannabinoid system – a vast system of chemical messengers and receptors that help control many of our most critical body systems like appetite and inflammation, temperature , emotional processing, memory and learning. It was only a matter of time before new cannabinoids were discovered and commercialized.
What are some of these newer cannabinoids and what is the evidence that they could help us?
Unfortunately, much of the data for these newly discovered compounds comes from animal studies. Therefore, it will take some time – and high quality research – to determine whether the benefits found in animals apply to humans.
CBG, or cannabigerol, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is marketed for the relief of anxiety, pain, infection, inflammation, nausea, and even the treatment of cancer. It has a myriad of potential medical uses, but virtually all of the studies that have been done on it have been conducted in animals so it is difficult to fully extrapolate it to humans. Experiments in mice have shown that it can reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease and slow colon cancer growth. In cells, it inhibits glioblastoma multiforme cells (the type of brain tumor that Senator John McCain suffered from).
CBG has also been shown to act as an antimicrobial against many different agents, including the difficult-to-treat MRSA bug that causes so many hospital-acquired infections. In addition, CBG is an appetite stimulator and can help treat bladder contractions. At present, a major threat to its use is the lack of regulation and standardization that accompanies the entire supplement industry in this country. Therefore, it is not always guaranteed that you will get what you think you are getting – and that applies to all of the substances discussed in this post.
THCV, or tetrahydrocannabivarin, is potentially exciting as it can aid efforts to treat our obesity and diabetes epidemics. There is robust animal data to show that it lowers fasting insulin levels, makes weight loss easier, and improves blood sugar control. In a study published in 2016, published in Diabetes treatmentTHCV has been shown to significantly improve fasting glucose, pancreatic beta cell function (the cells that produce insulin and ultimately fail in diabetes), and several other hormones associated with diabetes. It was well tolerated in both animals and humans with no significant side effects. In places like Israel, where research on cannabinoids is far more advanced than the US, strains with high levels of cannabinoids like THCV (and low levels of THC) are grown for study.
The cannabinoid CBN or cannabinol is present in traces in the cannabis plant, but is mainly a by-product of the breakdown of THC. Marijuana that has been sitting around for too long has a reputation for becoming “sleepy old marijuana” – supposedly because of higher levels of CBN, although there are other plausible explanations for the phenomenon. CBN is widely marketed for its calming and sleep-promoting properties. However, as you read the literature, it is interesting to note this There is practically no scientific evidence This CBN makes you sleepy, with the exception of a study in rats already on barbiturates who slept longer when CBN was added. This doesn’t mean that CBN doesn’t make people drowsy – as many claim – just that it hasn’t been scientifically proven.
Usually there are claims about cannabinoids something Evidence, at least animal testing, to support them. However, CBN has the potential (albeit so far only in animal studies) to act as an appetite stimulant and anti-inflammatory agent – both extremely important medical uses when they occur in humans. A recent human study from Israel showed that cannabis strains with higher CBN levels were associated with better symptom control of ADHD. We need more human studies before science supports marketing claims about the benefits of CBN.
Delta 8 THC
Delta-8-THC is found in traces in cannabis, but can be distilled and synthesized from hemp. It is increasingly being marketed as medical marijuana, with less high and less fear that can come with that high. Unlike the other compounds discussed here, Delta-8 is THC is an intoxicating cannabinoid, but it has only a fraction of the highs caused by THC – and even less of the fear and paranoia associated with it. It can relieve many of the same symptoms as cannabis, making it a potentially attractive medicine for people who want little to do with high levels of cannabis. It is considered to be especially helpful for nausea and appetite stimulation. There is some evidence (albeit from a very small study of 10 children) to suggest that delta-8-THC is an effective option for preventing vomiting during cancer chemotherapy. While the claims for Delta-8 are intriguing, there is a lack of good human studies to demonstrate its effectiveness or safety. So we have to take a grain of salt into the marketing claims.
Interest in cannabis research has risen again
As medical cannabis adoption grows – 94% of Americans currently support legal access to medical cannabis – virtually everyone agrees that more research is needed on cannabis and cannabinoids: their benefits, their harms, and the ways in which we can develop and safely use them to improve human health. We are in the middle of an incredibly exciting time with new discoveries being made in cannabinoid science every day, and I am excited to see what the future holds. Just like we’ve learned from our experiences with CBD, we need to be patient and filter our excitement through the calm lens of science. Above all, we need to be smart consumers who can find the real benefits given the complexities of political agendas and marketing claims that seem to go with all things cannabis-related.