THC is by far the most famous cannabinoid. However, did you know there are over a hundred more cannabinoids that come from the cannabis plant? We are still finding more as time goes on, adding to a list that never seems to end.
In this article, we have compiled the most up-to-date list of the known cannabinoids. We have also included 10 of our top picks. Being familiar with them may allow you to start looking for cannabis products that best meet your needs.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant and within our bodies. Here are two of the major types of cannabinoids:
- Phytocannabinoids: When the cannabinoids are within cannabis, they are called phytocannabinoids. Typically they are found within the resin glands of the cannabis flower, called trichomes. The most well-known phytocannabinoids are the compounds tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Many sources agree there are about 113 different cannabinoids found in cannabis. However, there may even be up to 150. Our list includes 147!
- Endocannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoids: Cannabinoids produced within our bodies are called endocannabinoids. Two of the major endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. There are several more that have been discovered, but their roles in the endocannabinoid system have not been determined.
Both phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids interact within our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS in our bodies regulates things like mood, behavior, appetite, learning, memory, reproduction, metabolism, growth, and development. The goal of the ECS is to achieve homeostasis in these areas.
Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, the most common ones being CB1 and CB2 receptors:
CB1 receptors: CB1s are mostly found in the central nervous system, the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
CB2 receptors: CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune and gastrointestinal systems, playing a large role in fighting pain and inflammation.
Depending on the compound, cannabinoids either will antagonize or agonize the receptors. Cannabinoid receptor agonists bind to receptors CB1 and/or CB2 and stimulate their activity. On the other hand, cannabinoid receptor antagonists suppress the activity of the receptor.
The Ultimate List of Cannabinoids
Now that we have an idea of what the ECS is and how cannabinoids work inside of it, here is a comprehensive list of the known phytocannabinoids:
- Cannabigerovarin (CBGV)
- Cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)
- Cannabigerolic acid methylether
- Cannabinerolic acid
- rac-6'-Epoxycannabigerolic acid
- rac-6'-Epoxycannabinerolic acid
- γ-Eudesmyl cannabigerolate
- y-Cainyl cannabigerolate
- Deprenyl O-methyl cannabigerolic acid (Amorfrutin 2)
- Abnormal cannabigerol
- Acetyl abnormal hydrocannabigeroquinol
- Abnormal cannabigeroquinol
- 2'-Hydroxy-1', 2'-dihydrocannabichromene (Cyclo-CBG)
- Cannabiorcichromenic acid
- Chlorcannabiorcichromenic acid
- Cannabivarichromene (CBCV)
- Cannabichromevarinic acid
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabichromenic acid
- Anthopogochromenic acid
- Daurichromenic acid
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Cannabidivarinic acid
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
- CBDA-THC ester
- Ferruginene C
- trans-Δ-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-8-THC)
- trans-Δ-8-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
- 10α-Hydroxy trans-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
- 10β-Hydroxy trans-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
- 11-Acetoxy-Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinoic acid
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabiorcolic acid
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid
- Δ-9-trans-nor-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-THC)
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid B
- β-Fenchyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- α-Fenchyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- Bornyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- epi-Bornyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- α-Terpinyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- 4-Terpinyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- γ-Eudesmyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- α-Cadinyl Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinolate
- Hydroxy Δ-9,11-hexahydrocannabinol
- Methylen-bis Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Cannabisol)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol epoxide
- Δ-9-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinol glycol (cannabiripsol)
- Cannabicitran (citrilidene-cannabis)(CBT)
- Bis-nor cannabitriol
- Bis-nor-Cannabitriol isomer
- 10-Ο-Ethyl bis-nor cannabitriol
- Cannabitriol isomer
- 10-Ο-Ethyl cannabitriol isomer
- Bis-nor-Cannabielsoic acid B
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
- Cannabielsoic acid A
- Cannabielsoic acid B
- Ferruginene A
- Ferruginene B
- Cannabiorcicyclolic acid
- Cannabicyclol (CBL)
- Cannabicyclolic acid
- Anthopogocyclolic acid
- Rhododaurichromanic acid A
- Cannabivarin (CBV)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinolic acid
- 8-Hydroxcannabinolic acid
- 4-Terpenyl cannabinolate
- Cannabicourmarononic acid
- (6aR)-Cannabichromanone B
- (6aR)-Cannabichromanone C
- Demethyldecarboxyamorfrutin A
- Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP)
- Cannabidiphorol (CBDP)
- Cannabimovone (CBM)
Most of these cannabinoids have been unexplored. This means there are lots of exciting benefits to be had upon the horizon! Stay tuned in the coming years as the world of cannabis products expand as science continues to make amazing discoveries.
So what do we know about certain cannabinoids for now? Here is a list of the top 10 major cannabinoids, including a few of our personal favorites.
Top 10 Cannabinoids
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-THC) or THC is the potent cannabinoid in marijuana that provides its psychoactive effects. THC was discovered and first isolated by Yechiel Gaeoni and Raphael Mechoulam in 1964.
The link between THC and the ECS was discovered by Dr. Allyn Howlett in 1988. He found that THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, causing a release of dopamine. This explains the relaxing euphoric effects that come from the THC high.
From THC, you may also experience changes in concentration, memory, sense perception, and movement.
This compound has been determined to be safe and effective for chronic pain. It has 20 times the strength in fighting inflammation like aspirin, which in turn can ease the pain. Medical marijuana shows promise in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Bipolar disorder
- Muscle spasms
- A variety of neurologic disorders
Cannabidiol (CBD) has boomed on the market over the last few years. It is known for its pain and inflammation-relieving qualities but doesn’t have a high like THC. Next to THC, it is the second-most cannabinoid in abundance in the cannabis plant. In hemp, it is the most abundant.
Due to the Farm Bill of 2018 that legalized hemp, which pushed CBD out to the masses (as long as it comes from hemp and has less than 0.3% THC). This explains the boom that has occurred. States have their own rules, however, so the legality of CBD and other hemp-derived products is on a state-by-state basis.
CBD was discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams and his team at the University of Illinois. It was not widely-understood until 1963, however. CBD is an antagonist of CB1 receptors, opposite THC’s agonist quality. It is thought that this is the reason why a high is not produced. On the contrary, CBD seems to increase 2-AG and anandamide endocannabinoids in the human body. It could be that CBD inhibits the adverse THC side effects through the CB1 receptors.
Cannabidiol can regulate pain by interacting with the brain cells. It can also influence dopamine receptors that help control behavior.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is known as the “mother of all cannabinoids.” Both THC and CBD begin as CBG and are broken down into their final forms. It appears in very small amounts of cannabis: typically less than 1%.
Since it is rare, it must be properly extracted from the plant, which can be very expensive. For this reason, CBG is not well-known and is outshined by CBD on the market today. But it does contain what may be helpful medicinal benefits. Here are some of them:
- Pain relief
- Treats glaucoma
- Inhibit tumor growth
- Neuroprotective properties
- Increase appetite
- Decrease inflammation
CBGA, which is the acidic form of CBG, was discovered in the 1970s. It is created by the combination of olivetolic acid and geranyl pyrophosphate. Once mixed with certain enzymes, CBGA turns into CBCA, THCA, and CBDA. These cannabinoids that end with ‘A’ are acidic forms and are coined cannabinoid acids. They become the non-acidic form once they have been heated or exposed to oxidative degradation.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is another abundant cannabinoid next to both THC and CBD. In marijuana, it is the third most common cannabinoid. You cannot get a high from CBC.
CBC was discovered in 1966. It said that it can be found in large levels in landrace strains in India. In some strains, it may even be found more commonly than in CBD. It is one of the cannabinoids that works well when combined with others as well as with terpenes to create the entourage effect. This effect is a theory that cannabis compounds work better when they are combined, magnifying the properties of each one.
Cannabichromene interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as TRPA1 and TRPV1. It also shares CBD and THC’s molecular formula C21H20O2, but the chemical properties and atoms differ.
It is said that it could be helpful for pathophysiological conditions like:
- Intestinal secretion
- Mucosal inflammation
- Visceral pain
- Intestinal cancer
However, more research is needed on these interactions.
Cannabinol (CBN) was the first cannabinoid to be uncovered. Robert Sidney Conn, a British chemist, is said to have made the first discovery in 1930.
CBN is not produced naturally, but forms as THCA degrades in a plant as a result of age or exposure to light. Typically, recreational users don’t like CBN in their cannabis because it is an indication that the product is old and stale. Although it may not be ideal for a fun high, it can help you sleep better.
It is said that when cannabinol is ingested, it can create a sedative effect that can be helpful for insomnia sufferers. It may also be potentially immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory. When combined with THC, it may significantly decrease levels of pain. CBN is still being researched for its effects on pain, appetite, sleep, and immune system.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is similar to THC but has fewer carbon atoms. It is an agonist to THC but may also magnify them if taken in larger doses. For instance, if you consume a strain high in THCV, you may experience a short clear-headed psychoactive high that is high in energy. Intoxicating effects are very minor.
THCV binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. How it binds depends on the dose. This cannabinoid is still being researched and the benefits are still relatively unknown. It is thought to be an appetite suppressant. This could be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes who need to control their glycemic levels and those who need to lose weight.
Strains that are high in THCV can typically be found in India, Pakistan, China, Thailand, and Afghanistan. Some cannabis strains have THCV levels of 53% of total cannabinoids, which is quite high.
THCV is prohibited due to it being an analog of THC. However, it is not listed as a Schedule I drug at this time.
Cannabidivarin (CBDV), like CBD, is non-intoxicating. It is found in strains that have a lot of CBD. This is especially true in Cannabis indica primitive landrace strains in the Northern Indian mountains that are high in CBDV levels.
CBDV was discovered in 1969 but has not been researched much until recently. It is bioavailable in rats below 6% when ingested. It is also not water-soluble in large amounts.
CBDV is said to have anticonvulsant effects that could be helpful for a range of epileptic seizures. . This is brought about by the reaction with the TRPV1, the ion channel in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. The TRPV1 acts as a receptor that can help with the pain.
In the future, we hope to see CBDV as a treatment for neurological conditions and epilepsy.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is not intoxicating like THC and is only found in raw cannabis. It comes from the resin concentrates and makes up 50% to 90% of the weight. The ‘A’ at the end signifies it as the acidic form of THC. When it is exposed to decarboxylation (i.e. heat), it turns into THC and gains psychoactive properties.
Strains high in THC will also be high in THCA. The best way to experience it by trying raw cannabis without heating it. Some people juice high-THCA strains to experience their effects without the THC high.
Even though it is such an important cannabinoid, not a lot of research has been done on THCA. It is said to reduce nausea in animal subjects. It also may be helpful to manage neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases.
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is the acidic precursor to CBD. It does not produce a high. Just as THCA turns into THC, CBDA turns into CBD when it has been exposed to heat through decarboxylation. CBDA is found in raw CBD-rich cannabis.
It was surmised that CBDA did not have any medicinal benefits. But it has been found that CBDA does activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that affects anxiety, sleep, mood, and nausea. This discovery could mean CBDA has antidepressant qualities that are even more effective than CBD. Only time and more research will tell.
10. Delta-8 THC
Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-8-THC) is an aged form of THC. When Delta-9 starts aging, the double bond moves to the eight carbon, turning it into Delta-8 THC. Scientists call it a degraded form of THC because it is produced as D9 ages.
Delta-8, like THC, is a psychoactive cannabinoid but has a more clear-headed high. The experience is said to be somewhere between CBD and THC. In addition to an awesome high, Delta-8 also boasts “antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
The Rich World of Cannabis Enhances Our Lives
The world of cannabis is a rich and exciting one that enhances our lives. The idea that lingered for decades that cannabis is “bad” is long gone. Your grandmother uses CBD for her aches and pains, while your parents pretend they don’t get high off THC in the garage. Take the plunge with Delta-8.
As a disclaimer, we want to state that this content is for informational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment. It should not be interpreted as instruction or medical advice to displace the advice of your doctor or other medical professionals. We recommend talking to your doctor to prepare a treatment plan for any diseases or ailments.