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Understanding Cannabis: Phytocannabinoids

October 23rd, 2020
Understanding Cannabis: Phytocannabinoids

Cannabinoids are initially found in acid form in plants, so while we refer to compounds like THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol), the correct name for them in their natural state is THCA and CBDA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid and Cannabidiolic Acid).


While these two Cannabinoids hog the limelight, CBGA (Cannabigerolic Acid) is actually the driving force. Often overlooked, as it typically only makes up about 1%, CBGA is where all other Cannabinoids derive from. During plant growth, CBGA converts to other Cannabinoid acids, mainly, THCA, and CBDA, and CBCA (Cannabichromenic Acid).

Through the process of decarboxylation (typically heating, vaping, or combusting, but also through drying) these compounds become non-acidic (and the ‘A’ is dropped from their names.). As of the date of this writing, no clinical studies have been done on CBG, however, we do know that CBG acts on both the CB1 and CB2 type receptors in our bodies.


THCA is considered non-intoxicating, and while research is still lagging far behind, it is suspected of providing anti-inflammatory, and appetite increasing effects, and some patients have reported it is useful for insomnia, muscle spasm, and pain relief. It also acts on both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

In acidic forms, these compounds have been treated as non-pharmacologically active, however, in 2008, CBDA was found to have anti-inflammatory effects, and in 2013, it was found to have anti-nausea, and anti-anxiety effects. As these compounds naturally degrade into their non-acidic forms, they haven’t been considered stable enough to be used in clinical settings, however, in 2019, Dr Mechoulam and his team synthesized a stable version of CBDA.

CBCA reportedly exerts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and analgesic activity. As of this writing, no studies have been performed on humans, but it is suspected that CBCA does not work on either the CB1 or CB2 receptors.

Acidic forms of Cannabinoids are typically accessed through juicing fresh cannabis plants, and topicals preparations.


This website provides general information and discussions about cannabis and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this website, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you have a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner or seek other professional medical treatment. We do not ever recommend that you disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking out such advice because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution.

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