by Lexa W. Lee
The Properties and Benefits of Key Phytocannabinoids in Hemp
We all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which keeps our bodies functioning normally. It helps us maintain homeostasis in a constantly changing environment. The ECS consists of messenger compounds called endocannabinoids, along with their receptors. Among these are CB1, CB2, and TPRV. Since the cannabinoids in hemp can also bind with these receptors with similar effects, they have attracted widespread interest as potential treatments for anxiety, sleep, pain and inflammation.
Endocannabinoids and Their Receptors
CB1 receptors are more concentrated in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found predominantly in the immune system and gastrointestinal system. Endocannabinoids can start or stop a given activity, such as the production, uptake or breakdown of an enzyme. They can affect a receptor directly by binding with it, or interact with it indirectly. The number and concentration of receptors is unique to each individual which explains why each of us reacts differently to cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids in plants — called phytocannabinoids — also combine with cannabinoid receptors in humans. The phytocannabinoids CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, and CBDV are possible therapies for human conditions related to the insufficient production or imbalance of endocannabinoids.
Cannabidiol (CBD) — along with THC — are the two best known and well-studied phytocannabinoids. CBD, the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp, is not psychoactive. It has antibacterial activity and can reduce pain and inflammation. It also shows promise as an anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and antipsychotic. CBD effects CB1 and CB2 indirectly instead of actually binding with them. Its greater interaction with CB2 means it has more influence on immunity and the gastrointestinal system rather than the central nervous system which has more CB1.
Cannabinol (CBN), a mildly psychoactive phytocannabinoid, produces sedative-like effects, but it is not intoxicating like THC. CBN forms when THC in plants is exposed to oxygen, light and heat. Because its chemical composition resembles THC, CBN also binds to CB1 and CB2. CBN may be effective in treating pain and inflammation, glaucoma and skin problems. It may also improve bone health. Higher CBN concentrations may help reduce anxiety. Curatio uses a patented oxidation process to convert the 3% THC content in its hemp to the CBN cannabinoid in a 1:1 conversion.
Additional research on CBN found:
- 1976 — sedative effects, particularly when paired with THC,
- 2002 — may be effective in reducing pain,
- 2004 — may help delay progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
- 2008 — showed antibacterial potential and
- 2012 — may help induce appetite.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of the more abundant cannabinoids in hemp after CBD. It is non-intoxicating, binding, weakly to CB1 and interacts more with CB2. It is involved in pain perception — apparently by boosting levels of endocannabinoids like anandamide. CBC also appears to inhibit the uptake of anandamide allowing it to remain longer in the bloodstream.
Additional research studies on CBC have found:
- 2010 — antidepressant effects,
- 2010 — anti-inflammatory properties with optimal results when taken with THC,
- 2011 — pain relieving effects,
- 2012 — reduces gastrointestinal motility, applicable to inflammatory bowel disease,
- 2013 — shows potential for use in neurodegenerative disorders and
- 2016 — may be useful in acne and other skin conditions.
Cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is a chemical precursor for other cannabinoids including THC, CBC, CBN and CBD. Conversion typically takes place 6–8 weeks in the flowering cycle. CBG is present only in trace amounts in most strains of hemp. So, some plants are specifically cultivated to generate higher yields.
Since CBG is not psychoactive and inhibits CB1, it counters the “high” produced by THC. CBG is believed to boost anandamide — an endocannabinoid that increases dopamine levels — thereby regulating functions such as mood, sleep and appetite. CBG has potential as an anti-anxiety agent and muscle relaxant. As a CB1 antagonist, it may also block serotonin receptors which can ease depression. CBG has also demonstrated antibacterial activity. Curatio products contain 3% CBG.
Additional research on CBG has found it:
- 1990 — lowers intraocular pressure, making it a possible glaucoma treatment,
- 2015 — shows potential for treating bladder dysfunction and
- 2016 — potentially is effective for inducing appetite.
Among the lesser-known phytocannabinoids is cannabidivarin (CBDV) which occurs in higher levels in hemp that also contains higher levels of CBD. It is non-psychoactive with a composition that resembles CBD. It appears to reduce nausea and seizure activity.
With the expanding market for CBD products and investigation into their medical effects, new strains of hemp are being developed for different phytocannabinoid profiles, as in Curatio’s hemp. Working with a team of scientists, Curatio has developed a product with a unique cannabinoid content and processing methods that enhance the way CBD acts.
Full-Spectrum CBD vs Broad-Spectrum CBD
“Full-spectrum CBD” refers to a preparation that includes all the cannabinoids in the plant. Curatios hemp contains a proprietary ratio of CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG and CBDV, along with flavonoids, terpenes and triglycerides that work synergistically for greater potency. You may have heard of broad-spectrum CBD oil which is also THC-free. However, the process of removing the THC stripsmost of the other secondary cannabinoids. The final product has a secondary cannabinoid content that does not exceed 2 percent, compared to Curatio which exceeds 15 percent. This includes 3% CBN, 3% CBG, and 9%CBC which Curatio includes as a non-psychoactive alternative to THC which, by law, cannot exceed 0.3 percent.
Lexa W. Lee is a former family physician, research fellow in immunology, lecturer and medical journalist. She also writes about consumer health issues.