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THC Molecule

Cannabis Acronyms – THC, CBD, CBG & Friends


Cannabis Acronyms: THC, CBD, CBG & More

The cannabis plant has almost 500 active compounds.  Of these, a little less than 100 are found only in cannabis, and these are called cannabinoids.  So roughly about 20% of all the compounds found in a cannabis plant are unique to cannabis. The other 80% are found in other types of plants.  You will see all sorts of acronyms associated with cannabis and cannabinoids, so knowing what they mean will help you as a consumer and a grower.



Cannabigerol, CBG, was thought to be an insignificant cannabinoid.  Typically found in quantities of less than 1%, CBG was thought to be just another cannabinoid among the many dozens.  But then scientists discovered that the reason for so little CBG found in a plant was that most of the CBG was converted into CBD & THC.  

This had serious ramifications because it essentially identified CBG as the stem cell of the other cannabinoids.  Thus CBG is the template for both CBD and THC. The amount of CBG left in a plant typically influences the amount of relaxation felt from the strain.  The more CBG left in the strain, the more of a relaxing feeling was felt. This would seem to be justified as we now know that CBG is the template for CBD.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is typically either the second most prevalent compound for in cannabis behind THC, or the highest when the plant is a CBD strain.  Preliminary clinical research on CBD included studies of anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, chronic pain, inflammation, migraines, arthritis, spasms and epilepsy and schizophrenia.

CBD is sought for medical purposes because CBD does not have the same psychoactive effects as THC.  In fact, there is evidence to show that CBD is actually a counterbalance to THC, limiting its effects.   This means that strains high in both THC and CBD will be clear headed highs, while those with high THC and low CBD will be more hazy highs.

CBD can be taken into the body in a variety ways including by inhalation, an aerosol spray into the cheek, and by ingesting. It can be supplied with low THC levels, less than 0.3%, such that no high is achieved, but the medical benefits are retained.



Tetrahydrocannabinol is the major psychoactive compound found in cannabis.  THC is used by the plant to fight off insects, the smell being considered foul by noisy pests.  Typically THC is the compound found in the highest amount unless the strain is a CBD strain.

THC causes the release of dopamine.  Dopamine gives the feeling of well being and euphoria. This is the high that most people associate with cannabis.  So at the end of the day it is not the THC that makes you feel high, it is the dopamine released by your own body that causes the high sensation.  THC does not directly cause the feeling of being high, it is actually a catalyst for dopamine release.

THC also has value as an analgesic and as a pain reliever.  Scientists are trying to determine whether removing the THC reduce the level of pain relief.  There may be an upper limit to the amount of pain relief a CBD strain can provide if the THC content is held to 0.3%.  Since THC also has pain relieving effects, it would stand to reason that it is likely that a strain high in both THC and CBD would offer more pain relieving benefits than a CBD only strain.


THCA is the acidic form of THC.  THCA is found in growing cannabis plants.  It is considered non active in this form. However, when heated, THCA morphs into THC.  

This is the primary scientific reason that cannabis leaves used for edibles needs to undergo decarboxylation.  Decarboxylation is a super fancy term for putting cannabis leaves and buds into an oven set at about 230 degrees Fahrenheit for around 45 minutes.  This heats up the THCA found in plant matter, and converts it into THC. At that point the cannabis leaves can be used for edibles and will produce the desired THC effects.  If the plant matter were not decarboxylated before using it, no THC would be present in the edibles.



Tetrahydrocannabivarin, THCV, is thought to be the compound that directly moderates the intensity of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.   The more THCV found in a plant the more intense the high will be. In a strange twist of fate, while THC is often associated with the munchies, THCV has been shown to be an appetite suppressant.  


CBDA is the acidic form of CBD.  Much like THCA is to THC, CBDA is to CBD.  CBDA is thought to have anti-nausea properties and has be useful in the treatment of breast cancer.  



Cannabinol, CBN,  is the result of oxidized THC.  Thus if you store your cannabis in a bright place, the THC will begin to oxidize and CBN is formed.  This is why cannabis should be stored in a cool, dark place. CBN is less psychoactive than THC and its main effect tends to be grogginess.   CBN is therefore an undesirable compound that is the result of THC being converted into the less desirable and psychoactive CBN.



Cannabichromene, CBC, is one of the least studied compounds.  Thought to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, not much is known about CBC yet.  However one of the exciting breakthroughs shows that CBC may have potential for brain cell regrowth.   The ramifications of this if true and staggering. Hopefully scientists will be able to provide proof of this and apply the life altering benefits that would be the result.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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