What are Cannabinoids?

What are Cannabinoids?

...we actually didn't even know that there were things called endocannabinoids, or something called an endocannabinoid system in our bodies, which is a natural architecture for interacting with cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are compounds created by, and primarily found in, the marijuana plant, although cannabinoids have now been found in various fungi, liverwort and cacao (no wonder you feel good when eating chocolate!).  These cannabinoids mimic the natural endocannabinoids that our own bodies produce in the endocannabinoid system, and they therefore have profound medicinal qualities and benefits for us.  More than 166 cannabinoids have been found – in fact so many of them that not all of them even have names yet!

Cannabis Oil – or full extract oil, contains all the compounds the cannabis plant creates, including all the cannabinoids and terpenes.  The term Cannabis Oil includes various oils called by different names – THC Oil, Hemp Oil, Dagga Oil, Weed Oil… but not CBD Oil.  CBD Oil only contains one cannabinoid… CBD!  it’s vital that patients wanting treatment from cannabis oil make note that a full extract oil will be far superior for their needs in most cases because of the entourage effect, 

We’ve all heard of the famous cannabinoids – THC and CBD, but researchers are continuing to find medical benefits in cannabinoids such as CBG, CBT, CBV, CBC and many others.  THC and CBD have already shown profound medical benefits for cancer, pain, epilepsy, anxiety and sleep disorders, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and others.  Watch the videos below for more information about cannabinoids and how they may and can provide relief from many medical problems.

What are Cannabinoids Video:
Full Transcript Below: 

Well, Hi everybody. Great to be with you today. As I said my name’s Samantha Miller. I’m the present chief scientists of Pure Analytics and chief science officer of Humboldt Brand Products. I’m really excited to share with you today everything that I can about major and minor cannabinoids and how they work in your body, along with some great things about current research on PTSD, cancer, neuropathy, and more. So, let’s get started.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are substances that are produced both in plants and in the human body, and they’re responsible for some but not all of the effects that you experience from cannabis. In fact, some of the other effects may be due to things like terpenoids and flavonoids.

Pytocannabinoids and Endocannabinoids

Phytocannabinoids are one type of cannabinoid. So, you’ll hear the terms phytocannabinoid and endocannabinoid. Phytocannabinoids are the ones that are produced by plants. The cannabis plant is the only plant that’s known to produce really significant amounts of this viscous resin and, when you look at close-up shots of the surface of a cannabis plant, you can actually physically see the phytocannabinoids accumulating in the resin glands. The resin glands are those little structures on the plant. They have a little stalk with a ball on the end and that’s where the phytocannabinoids actually accumulate. THC and CBD are right there in those resin glands. Endocannabinoids are a very similar class of substances. What’s really interesting about them is that they’re made naturally in the human body.

Back in the 80s when I was a little kid, we used to see these commercials… This is your brain, and this is your brain on drugs. And, you’d see the two eggs in a frying pan. It was really interesting to me to learn that we actually didn’t even know that there were things called endocannabinoids or something called an endocannabinoid system in our bodies, which is a natural architecture for interacting with cannabinoids and that’s actually the reason that humans have such strong interactions with cannabinoids because we have this natural architecture in our bodies to interact with them. The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors in our body. Receptors… we can think of receptors as little docking sites right in our brains, and all over our bodies are these little docking sites that cannabinoids connect with and cause all of the different things that you experience from them.

Overview of THC, CBD and CBD

Let’s talk a little bit about THC, CBD and CBN. These three together are often referred to as the major cannabinoids. The reason is because they’re often the most prevalent, although current analysis is showing that CBC maybe should be called a major cannabinoid these days as well because it’s present in almost every sample and at a decent level, sometimes higher than CBD. The relative amounts of THC and CBD are of a lot of interest to people. Right now you hear people talk about ratios – 1:1, 2:1, 15:1, and 20:1. It matters how much THC relative to CBD there is because those are specific for specific ailments. A 20 to 1 CBD to THC cannabis flower or tincture, for example, may be good for addressing one thing like seizure control, where a one to one or a two to one CBD to THC substance or tincture might be the best thing safe for pain relief. The ratio is specific to the application. That’s why we care about ratio, and that’s why we talk about it.

Can grower change a marijuana plant from THC to CBD?
A question I get asked a lot is is there anything you can do during the growing stages of the plant to change it from a THC plant to a CBD plant and unfortunately the answer is no. I’ve been asked, Is there a nutrient can I water? Starve it? Can I change the light? Can I do anything to it to change that THC plant to a CBD plant? Unfortunately the answer is no. Whether a plant is THC dominant or CBD dominant is actually determined by genetics. If it’s a 15 percent THC plant, or it’s a 15 percent CBD plant, the fact that that’s the dominant cannabinoid isn’t something that you can change. What you can change is the total accumulation of the plant, that can be affected by growing conditions. If a plant doesn’t have the right growing conditions – nutrients, soil and water, it won’t produce as much cannabinoids, and the final potency percentage won’t be as high. So, that is something that you can affect.

Cannabinoids Ratios
There are three main types of cannabinoid ratio that you can consider. There’s cannabis that’s very high THC. There’s cannabis that’s very high in CBD. And, right in the middle there is cannabis where you have equal amounts of THC and CBD. Again, which bucket cannabis ends up in – high CBD, high THC, or equal amounts of the two is determined by the genetics of the plant.

What is THC and what is THC acid?
THC is probably the cannabinoid that we’re all the most familiar with. It’s the one that’s been talked about the most. It’s the one that for a long time people attributed most of the effects of cannabis to – this one molecule THC. We know more than that now, which we’ll talk about throughout this presentation today.

The reason that people talk a lot about THC is that it has some pretty big effects. THC is the main psychoactive or intoxicating component in cannabis. When we talk about that, it’s to indicate that there’s a shift, and the way you feel in your emotional state when you consume THC. THC is referred to in a few different ways out there. You’ll see THC, you’ll see delta nine tetrahydrocannabinol. Those are all the same thing. THC is generally the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, but that’s been changing as more people have focused on developing more CBD strains, and we’ll talk about CBD a lot as well today. One of the fascinating things about THC is that it actually exists in different forms in the plant. You actually have THC acid as its dominant form in the growing plant.

THC is the form that you find after it’s been heated. When you put something in your pipe and smoke it, you’re actually doing some chemistry converting THC the acid to THC. There’s a lot of confusion amongst patients about THC acid and THC. A lot more is known about THC. THC acid is just coming into our purview as something that we’re interested in, and we want to know about. The researchers, the original people who pioneered cannabinoid research, when you ask them at the conferences, say Raphael Meshoulam, why aren’t you studying THC acid? He was like, Oh there’s nothing to it. There’s nothing there. It doesn’t have strong effects in the body. Raphael’s coming around. It’s because of people who went out there as evangelists and as early adopters, and tried this, and have built bodies of anecdotal evidence to say there’s something interesting going on here with these acidic cannabinoids. THC acid is the form it’s in. It’s been heated. That means, in the growing plant or in dried material, let’s say on the shelf in a jar and dispensary, that’s the form that most of it is in. The conversion of THC acid to THC is called decarboxylation. That’s a big word. I like the word activation more. I think it’s a little bit more intuitive. You’ll hear me use the term activation and decarboxylation interchangeably. At room temperature decarboxylation can actually also occur over time. As your cannabis sits in that jar, you can actually have some of that conversion as well. It’s not entirely stable. Smoking or vaporizing activates, or decarboxylates, THC acid and turns it into THC, making it available for those experiences that you’re most accustomed to. For reliable decarboxylation of THC acid to THC, a lot of people are interested in that because they’re making their own medicine at home. If you want to do that my best advice is to heat your raw cannabis. Don’t put it into butter first, but just the raw cannabis itself on a baking sheet in the oven. If you pre-heat your oven to 212 degrees fahrenheit and you bake it, and keep it in a thin layer to make sure that the heat can actually penetrate all the material for 90 minutes, you’ll have great THC acid to THC conversion. So why do we care? I’ve talked about that this thing exists, how to you convert one to the other. But why do you care about it? Well the reason you care about THC acid and THC and the difference between them is because the effects are totally different, and in many cases, the therapeutic application is totally different, depending on the patient and their needs and what’s right for you. It really depends on your desired effects and the relief that you need. THC acid has been exciting to people lately because there’re a lot of new people coming to cannabis, and they want to try it for the first time. They’ve got one hesitation, though, that’s the intoxication component to it. Maybe they’re not comfortable letting go, not having control in that moment. THC acid preparations, tinctures especially, you can find THC acid in, are a great way for people to try cannabis for the first time without a whole lot of danger or fear of intoxication. There’re a lot of interesting findings from these bodies of patient anecdotal evidence that we’ve been putting together to show that THC acid has some pretty substantial anti-inflammatory properties, and may have some antispastic properties as well. More work needs to be done on that, but there’re some clear indications that there’s more to learn there.

How can patients get products containing THC acid?
When I talk about THC acid patients are really interested and concerned. How can I get access to that? What kind of products can I find THC acid in? Well the the most direct way is through juicing. You can actually juice raw cannabis, both the leaves and the flowers. If you’re juicing flowers you do need to add a little bit of water into your blender as well, or it won’t turn out quite right. Wheatgrass juicers are actually the best ones to use because of the way that they process the material. Some juicers actually activate the THC acid and convert it to THC during the process of juicing because of the amount of heat that’s used. You want to use a juicer that doesn’t have a lot of heat if you’re concerned about preserving your cannabinoid acids. Glycerin tinctures that are made without any heat, or alcohol tinctures made without any heat, are another place that you can find acidic cannabinoids. Water extracted hash will often have a small amount of activation, but you can keep the majority of it in the acid form as well, and you can capsulize that so you can take it as an oral ingestible as a capsule. Those are some strategies and ways that you can access acidic cannabinoids and try them if you’re interested.

How long does THC acid take to start working?
One of the other things that’s been interesting as I’ve have worked with several patients concerning the use of THC acid and THC, is there’s a distinct time-phased effect that’s different for THC acid. What we’ve learned is that if you’re interested in pursuing THC acid therapy, you have to try it for a while to make sure you’re actually experiencing the benefit. For many patients this is actually up to three to four weeks after daily use when they truly start to experience the benefit. I have a lot of patients who approached me and they say, Samantha, I’m trying to choose. Is it THC acid therapy or is it THC. Which one is it that I want? Aren’t we funny as humans? We want it to be an a/b thing. But, really the answer is, it’s probably both. I myself have fibromyalgia, so I deal with chronic pain. There’re days where I have really acute days. They’re really bad days. Acidic cannabinoid therapy on a daily basis is something that can lower the overall symptom level of someone who has a condition like my chronic pain condition. On those acute days I probably need some THC, and so they can really complement one another. The acidic cannabinoid therapy to bring down that total level of symptoms that you’re feeling and the activated cannabinoids to really help you deal with that in the moment situation, because THC as you know, you feel very immediately and can give you that immediate relief if you need it to help promote your quality of life and keep you functional for that day. When you are pursuing THC acid therapy, especially if you’re doing it to avoid intoxication, you really do need to make sure you understand that there is going to be a small amount in that activated form of THC present, so you may still feel a little bit of psychoactivity. But it certainly should be a lot less than if the whole thing was activated. Again, most of our evidence around THC acid therapy has to do with patient anecdotal evidence that’s been gathered by various clinicians, and even dispensaries, who are doing their own research. There’re certain dispensaries have gone on a mission to gather data and figure out what’s really happening with some of these unique substances. Some of the things that we’ve observed are reduction in inflammation and muscle convulsions in spasticity. But the one that fascinates me the most is changes in cognitive development in children who are taking acidic cannabinoid therapies. We see some really amazing shifts in their behavior, both from THC acid and CBD acid. We see changes in emotional intelligence, in speech and in cognition. I’m fascinated to see what the further research on THC acid reveals and it should be really fascinating.

What is THC good for?
People often wonder what’s normal for THC. Should it take care of my pain? Should it take care of my nausea? What is it really supposed to do for me? There’s been a lot of research that’s been done. There’s certainly more to do, but we have some really clear ground that you can stand on and say, THC is great for these things: It’s great for mild to moderate pain relief; it’s become a great option for people to wean themselves off of opioid therapy, say from post-surgical pain. For some people they can deal with post-surgical pain using cannabis. For many people, that’s a challenge, and they often need the opioids for a few days. But cannabis can be an incredible tool for getting yourself off of that addictive medication as quickly as possible so you don’t experience those side effects. Control of nausea is a very significant finding around THC. People with cancer and AIDS who are taking a lot of different pharmaceutical regimens to help get them through their condition often experience a lot of nausea. Also, the need for appetite stimulation. As we all know, THC does a great job at appetite stimulation, sometimes when you don’t want it to. THC can also be a great solution for insomnia for many people, helping people go to sleep, and then staying in sleep a little bit longer. The one thing that we should always consider, especially for new users to cannabis who are trying THC for the first time, is that for some people it’s not always totally a great experience. If you suffer from anxiety or you find yourself on the bipolar spectrum, or with schizophrenia, or with conditions like that, THC may exacerbate your condition. If you fall into that spectrum you really want to make sure that you work closely with your doctor if you’re just thinking about exploring THC dominant cannabis and your therapy regimen. Make sure that it’s the right choice for you, and then it’s done in a controlled manner because everybody needs to be successful. One might need a little bit more guidance.

What are average THC levels?
Some THC levels for flowers are really interesting. In owning the lab for the last seven years, it’s been fascinating to actually watch that potency average rise. In addition to the potency average of flowers rising, you see all these other kinds of new products coming out. A lot of people wonder what’s normal for flowers, what’s average, what’s high, what’s low. In northern california where my laboratory does testing, we see the average range of THC dominant flowers to be about sixteen and a half percent. Once you get over about eighteen to twenty percent that’s near in the strong range and over 21 percent, you have a lot fewer strings that qualify. If another dividing line is 25%, you do have some strains that perform over 25 percent THC, but it’s a lot fewer than below. It’s good to understand what average ranges are and also that there is actually a value associated with those ranges. If your economics of cannabis use matter to you, then it might be good to understand what things fall into your price range, and how you can best use those in your therapy regimen. There is a whole class of patient right now who’s really interested in the mild to moderate range of THC potency, especially older people. I know as I get older my response to THC definitely changes. We often have a lower tolerance level for it as we get older, so those lower THC products, say 10% THC and below, are becoming more attractive. To those new people who are coming to cannabis for the first time, just because it’s low potency doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means it’s right for a different person than something that’s high THC.

THC Concentrates

We’ve had this explosion of concentrates, especially in California and in every legal market, I’m sure. I’m here in California so that’s where I see it the most. I remember the first time I saw BHO wax. I remember the first time I saw Shatter. As a chemist I was fascinated by it, and I asked them about it. They wouldn’t tell me anything. It’s top secret. And now there’s videos all over YouTube that tell you all of this stuff, so it’s certainly no secret anymore. And, as the secret has gotten out, the proliferation of it’s been amazing. What’s really fascinating is it’s really changed the potency thresholds that people are accustomed to and that they expect in the marketplace. It’s interesting to know that Keefe, that’s a cannabis that’s been run and over a dry sieve, the resin glands collected generally doesn’t get over about 30 or 40 percent THC, and more often it’s actually a little bit below that with hash. Traditional hash, like you used to see coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in places like that which you actually don’t see much of anymore, generally ranges between about 10 to 60% with the average being at about 48 percent. Bubble Hash, which is water extracted hash, still popular although it’s waning in its popularity as other extracts come into the market – CO2 extracts and BHO extracts and all these different things that people are doing, but water extracted hash averages at about 50% and really tops out around 65 percent or so. You do have a few rare ones that go higher than that, but the average is a real solid 50 percent. Wax or BHO or Shatter CO2 extracts, those are chemical extracts. Bubble hash, hash and keefe are all made by what we call a mechanical process, where you physically remove resin glands, gather them and press them together, whereas these new concentrates are totally different. They come from a process of chemical extraction. The extraction of cannabis with butane, with co2, with propane, some with nitrogen, there’s a variety of things that you can use, but that chemical extraction, as you might expect, is much more efficient, so, you get much higher concentrates ranging upwards of 90 plus percent. It’s definitely something to be careful with if you’re a new user. But, it can be a great source of relief, and a very concentrated dose of cannabinoids if needed for the right patient.

About CBD

Let’s move on to talking about CBD. There’s a lot of talk about CBD. People are really excited about CBD. When I first started speaking to patient audiences seven years ago, I would ask people, Who’s heard of CBD in here? And, I get a couple of hands half timidly raised. When I ask that question to an audience today, everybody raises their hand that they know what CBD is, which is a really cool thing to happen in five or seven years. Why do we care about CBD and what’s the buzz? What is it all about?

CBD is different from THC in many ways, in both the way that it makes you feel, and in therapeutic applications. CBD has been called non psychoactive, or non intoxicating. The way I like to say it is, You’ll still be able to operate heavy equipment afterwards probably. CBD is a great option for people who are seeking cannabinoid therapy and are a little concerned about the feelings of intoxication they might experience from THC, and would really prefer to take baby steps into cannabis. They feel safer. CBD has become one of those things that people can try in a safe way, in a safe place. In addition, there’s a greater level of permissions that have been created around CBD, both legally and culturally in our society, and that entry point of that kind of environment of permissions that’s being created for CBD is really exciting. It’s really been the impetus for changing the conversation around cannabinoid therapy, focusing on the medicinal therapeutic and less on the psychoactivity and intoxication components that have historically been our kind of cultural association with cannabis. CBD is interesting in that it’s usually found at low levels, so sub 1%, less than 1%. But, in some cannabis, it’s the dominant cannabinoid, although that does occur more rarely than with THC. There’re a lot of efforts underway to create more CBD strains. There are seed collectives. There are independent growers. There are companies who are making products now and they want only specific cannabinoids to be present, especially CBD. There’s a lot of work around developing more CBD strains and creating more access to CBD for patient populations.

CBD acid CBDa

Interestingly CBD, like THC, also has an acid form CBD acid or CBDa. Fascinating, of course, that both are non intoxicating as CBD is not intoxicating. If THC is present though, it’s good to understand that you may still feel some feelings of intoxication. CBD does really lower the overall feeling of intoxication that you’re going to feel from THC because of the way that they interact, but you still may feel a little bit. If you do feel some intoxication, don’t be surprised. It’s because of the THC present. The therapeutic uses of CBD and CBD acid are different. A lot less is known about CBD acid. Fewer people have used it. But it has been the one that has shown some pretty incredible shifts in children who are using it. Again, as with THC acid, the time to feel the effects are different. With CBD acid therapy, you may need to be using CBD acid tincture, or juicing, three to four weeks before you actually feel that overall reduction of your symptom levels. One of the best stories that I heard about CBD acid therapy was out in the village of Mendocino in Northern California. I was visiting a little collective out there called the Leonard Moore Cooperative. We’ve done a lot of work to try and promote CBD, and there was a patient of theirs that had ALS. It was a fairly far advanced case of it. She was about to go into hospice, and the family was really upset about that. They really wanted her at home. Everybody does better at home. There, in that moment of desperation, and they were gonna try anything, they got some juice to cannabis from the Leonard Moore Cooperative. That juiced cannabis being given to her on a daily basis is what kept her off of a feeding tube and kept her out of hospice. She was able to have an incredibly higher quality of life through CBD acid therapy. There’re so many stories like that. We don’t have enough time to tell, but it can be a very powerful alternative to the drugs that people are using, or the care regimens that we start to pursue as people go into end-of-life.

Decarboxylation of CBDa

Like with THC acid, there is a recipe for conversion if you need to convert CBD acid to CBD, say for a product or a tincture that you’re making to help with your own therapeutic regimen. There’s some specific conditions. Again, heating raw cannabis in your oven, not in oil or anything else, is the best way to do it. You want to spread it out on a baking sheet pre-heat your oven to 295 degrees farenheit. It’s a higher temperature than with THC. Heat it for ninety minutes and you’ll get great CBD acid to CBD conversion. If you don’t go to that 295 degree temperature, your conversion probably won’t occur, or it’ll occur in a partial way. It’s really important that you hit that temperature, and because it’s important you hit that temperature, I recommend that people buy an additional temperature gauge for their oven. You can often buy them right in the grocery store in the little gadget aisle. You can hang it right in your oven and make sure that you’re actually at the right temperature because I’ll tell you our oven thermostats are terrible for the most part, I have learned. So, when people are looking for CBD, and they’re looking for it in the flower form, they’re often kind of restricted to asking about specific strain names. Some strains that you can look for that are likely to be CBD dominant are things like Tsunami Harlequin, Cannatonic, Harless Sue, Canassu, Stinky Pink Diesel, and of course, Charlotte’s Web that we heard about a lot from Sanjay Gupta. Interestingly, Stinky Pink Diesel was the first. I know it’s a funny name, it was the first high CBD strain that was isolated and identified here in California through lab testing. That happened at Harbor Side. It was a strain that came out of a very very small growing community in Mendocino County called Koval Oh, and I remember doing a seminar out in Koval Oh about six years ago now in the public library there. As a very small place, about six people came. The woman who actually had created that strain and submitted it for testing was actually there, so it was a pleasure to meet her. She still has those genetics and is holding on to him tightly. That’s one of the things that’s been interesting about CBD. It’s been so limited in supply, and there have been so few people who have held the genetics, there was a tendency for a long time to hold onto them and not share them with people. What’s really exciting is that we’ve had some producers and breeders and creators like Lawrence Ringo who made all of their genetics available in seed form to whoever wanted to buy them. That’s been a really exciting change in CBD is that it’s now very publicly available for people who say want to grow it themselves, or work with it themselves. The therapeutic uses of CBD are different from THC. Complimentary, but different. It definitely deals with pain just like THC does, but it attacks pain from a different side than THC. It definitely reduces inflammation, as THC does, but it specifically deals with pain due to spasticity, and there are a lot of chronic pain conditions that originate from muscle spasticity – Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy if it’s origin is spasticity. That’s why you’ve seen CBD become a go-to therapeutic alternative for many people who suffer from these spasticity related conditions. CBD has also been shown in some more modern research to be very effective for eliminating chemotherapy induced neuropathy, and also neuropathy in general – even diabetic neuropathy. That work was done in a very formal setting and was actually very clear. CBD has a lot of different uses, especially for people suffering from chronic pain. One of its other major applications is as an anti-anxiety substance. CBD, for many people who suffer from anxiety, really seems to provide them incredible relief. I never recommend that somebody go off of their anxiety medication without consulting their doctor, but for many patients they’ve been able to either find it as a compliment, or a substitution, for a more traditional pharmaceutical regimen that they were previously on. CBD has also been shown in some research to perhaps have some anti-tumor activity for particular types of tumors. A little bit later in the presentation we’ll talk a little bit more about that research. For people who are using CBD and THC together, they have some interesting interplay with one another that’s good to understand because they become tools in your toolkit as a patient and a user with a therapeutic regimen that you’re trying really to have be successful. CBD actually prolongs the effects of THC, and the way that it does that is that it actually inhibits the enzyme that breaks down THC in our liver. When CBD connects with that enzyme, it changes its shape, and so THC doesn’t fit in it very well anymore, and can’t be broken down. So, it recirculates and we experience it for a longer period of time. CBD also reduces the feelings of intoxication from THC. When I tell people that CBD is gonna make their THC last longer, they’re like, I’m gonna get high for longer. Well it’s a little bit different than that. You’ll probably be less high, but your therapeutic benefits will last for longer. It’s a point at which we have to separate those two ideas.

CBD levels in cannabis flowers

The expected CBD levels for flowers are a little bit different than for THC, especially when we’re looking at CBD flowers that have a one-to-one, or a balanced ratio. Think about it… you couldn’t have 20% THC and 20% CBD in one plant. They just don’t accumulate at that level. No lab has shown that result yet. The only time that you really see CBD go above 20% or even in that range, are in those 20 to 1 CBD to THC flowers. Oftentimes in a one-to-one CBD flower, you’ll see something like 5% CBD and 5% THC, or maybe 7% and 7%. The levels are a lot lower than you see in those THC flowers that we’ve optimized for potency over so many different years. How high the CBD level is depends on ratio. If you’re dealing with a twenty to one, you can actually see CBD levels up as high as twenty, but with balanced or with lower ratios you’re going to see them more in the single-digit range. That doesn’t mean that it’s poor quality. We have this idea that cannabis at a certain percentage means that it’s low quality. You have to throw that out the door when it comes to CBD. It’s just an entirely different thing to consider.

About CBN

Let’s talk about CBN a little bit. CBN has gotten a bad reputation and there’s a reason why. It’s a byproduct of THC degradation. When THC degrades it becomes CBN. That usually happens in the presence of UV light and oxygen. I used to say to the growers that I would talk to you, don’t put it in the turkey bag and throw it in the corner of your room and have a little light run across it back and forth all day, because that uv in addition to the oxygen in the bag is going to cause CBN conversion. A lot of dispensaries and people in the kind of open market of cannabis view CBN is a negative indicator of either processing or age of cannabis. That’s true, but it has to be taken with a grain of salt. It really only applies to indoor grown cannabis. Outdoor grown cannabis is going to naturally have a small amount of CBN present due to the UV that’s impinging on it from the sun, and the weathering that’s happening as it grows in the outdoor environment during the entire grow season. It’s not uncommon to find, say, 0.5% CBN in an outdoor grown flower that’s been perfectly grown and perfectly processed and is very fresh. CBN is not always an indicator of negativity either in the growth conditions or in processing. It’s good to understand that it also has some interesting therapeutic benefits. One of the ones that’s interesting to me especially is around cardiovascular effects. It actually decreases heart rate without decreasing blood flow, so it can bring your heart rate down. Some animal model research has also said that CBN induces feelings of grogginess. I actually did some consumer testing along the way in developing the Humbolt products to look at CBN, and I found very clearly that CBN is a very dose dependent substance, and that at low doses can be effective as a sleep aid. But, as you go into moderate and high doses actually seems to be contraindicated for sleep and can be alerting to many people. That’s a very interesting finding, and in fact, found throughout our work that a CBN dose and a dose of THC accompanied with Mercyne, are virtually equivalent.

CBC Cannabinoid

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the minor cannabinoids. THC and CBD, and CBN, we hear about those a lot. There’re other ones that have started to percolate up. We hear about them here and there but we don’t know a lot about them. Part of it is because not a lot of research has been done, so there’s more work to do. But, there’s some interesting things to look at. CBC is one of my favorite I think it has a lot of promise. CBD has been shown to be a very powerful anti-anxiety substance in the preliminary research that’s been done CBC has been shown to have 10 times the anti-anxiety effects of CBD. anti-anxiety effects of CBD. Interestingly, CBC is present at elevated amounts in juvenile plants. As the plant grows older, matures and flowers, you have lower CBC levels. There have been some plants that have been isolated that are CBC rich plants, and they are actually mutant plants that can’t produce THC and CBD very well. Because they can’t produce THC and CBD very well, the CBC is allowed to accumulate. The reason why is that they all share the same starting material, so this little pile of something called CBG acid inside the plant and the THC enzyme the CBD enzyme and the CBC enzyme all grab onto that CBG acid as their starting material to convert, to become the cannabinoids that they eventually are… THC, CBD and CBC. When the THC enzyme and the CBD enzymes aren’t grabbing any of that CBG acid is just left there for the CBC enzyme, and it goes to town and starts to accumulate. That’s the only time you really see it at appreciable levels in a mature plant. There hasn’t been very many of those identified, so that’s kind of that’s the search right for the ambitious grower out there, is that CBC mutant. CBC’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects, as well.

CBG Cannabinoid

Cannabigerol, or CBG, is an interesting one as well. It’s non-psychoactive and non intoxicating, as is CBC by the way, again anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects seems to be a theme you hear from almost every cannabinoid. THC, CBD, CBC, now CBG. We’re hearing about that pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effect. If you’re dealing with pain, cannabis is a great solution or a great thing to drive for people. We often hear about cannabis and glaucoma, and I don’t know, we’ve all probably heard Peter Tosh – this song where he talks about it too. I always associated that especially with the way people express it and talked about it, what it had to do with THC. But, if you look at the research, you’ll see that what was actually shown to be reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients, in the research that’s been performed with CBG, in many of the cases that have been identified. It’s also an interesting molecule to look at therapeutically. CBG acid, as I said, is the precursor to both THC and CBD in the growing plant, but you always have a small amount of CBG that’s left over. Sometimes it’s not a small amount. It can actually help growers look at an indicator of whether or not they allowed their plant to mature longer. A mature plant that was harvested in an optimal time will probably have 1% or less of CBG, maybe up to one and a half percent. But if you see plants with as much as five or six percent CBG present in them, basically what you’re looking at there, if it’s not a genetic mutant, is a plant that was just harvested a little bit too early. That balance, and that varying balance between the different cannabinoids, as well as the other substances of the plant at different points of maturity and harvests, are some of the things that shape preferences that people have say for early mid to late harvest products.

THCV Cannabinoid

THCv also has a lot of buzz about it. Tetrahydrocannabivarin. It’s a mouthful. There’s been limited research on it. It’s a very rare cannabinoid. In my laboratory we’ve isolated three different cultivars of THC cannabis over 5% by weight, so those are very interesting. All in one small community in Mendocino, they’ve been collecting genetics. It’s sifting through to them to see if they can find THCv, and a few of them have. The animal model research assists some interesting things about THCv relative to THC, and that is that the presence of THCv is thought to bring on the feelings of THC on stronger and quicker. So it’s a quicker high that’s more intense, but also has a shorter duration. I said call it the quickie. If you can actually find the THCv cannabis, there’s also been research people that say, Hey Samantha, where do I get some of that diet weed. And I say, Diet weed, well what’s the diet weed? The diet weed, it turns out, is THCv cannabis. There’s been some animal model research that suggested that it actually prevents the munchies, which if you struggle with your weight and you smoke cannabis, may be a significant issue for you. It’s not been proven out in humans yet, so as soon as we get more THCv cannabis for everybody to try, we’ll have to run that one to ground and see if it really is the diet weed. But there’re a lot of people excited about the prospect of that right now.


There’s also a related compound on the CBD side called CBDv or cannabidivarin. CBDv and THCv are both what we call propyl cannabinoids. They have a three carbon ring on them which makes them a little bit different. CBDv is also a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, and it’s thought to perhaps be one of the differentiators in CBD dominant cannabis that has greater or lesser efficacy for epilepsy treatment. Interestingly, in groups of epilepsy patients who have been trying lots of different CBD strains, we find that they don’t all work the same. Some work better than others. They maybe have the same CBD to THC ratio, so you can tell it’s not about that. It’s not just about the CBD and THC. One of the other things that’s present can be CBDv and some preliminary animal model research has shown that CBDv has significant anti-spasticity properties. It may be that the anti spasticity properties of CBDv, when coupled with CBD, really create the best solution for a lot of people when treating epilepsy and spasticity. But there is more to learn on that as well.

Research into CBD and THC for cancer research

There’s a lot of exciting research happening right now and it’s an exciting time in that our government here in the U.S. even is allowing more research. Up to this time a lot of it has had to happen in more international places in Spain, Italy, Israel, Canada and Amsterdam, who’ve had a greater level of permissions than we have. There’ve been a few pioneers here in the U.S. – Dr. Sean Mcallister is one of them. He’s out of California Pacific Medical center in San Francisco. Sean is a true pioneer. You can YouTube him and watch him all day if you’d like to. What sean did was that he induced tumors into animals, into rats. You can actually buy cancer, many people don’t know that, but you can buy cancer and you can give it to things in a clinical setting. These rats were given cancer, and they were allowed to grow tumors, in this case breast tumors were the specific case study that I saw from Sean. He showed a picture of this ugly tumor on this poor rat’s chest, and then he made CBD and THC injections into that tumor. After 30 days of the injections at the right ratio of CBD to THC, that tumor completely disappeared. The next thing that Sean shows is a picture of a rat with nothing but beautiful pink skin on its belly. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I probably wouldn’t have believed it, because it’s such an amazing transformation. Sean’s work is really exciting. He’s really diving down into whether specific cannabinoid ratios are needed to treat a specific type of cancer. Sean was a rebel. He got his first research grant under the auspices of actually demonstrating that cannabis wasn’t good for you. And, bless Sean for that, because that was how he got the funding to make these findings. Now, the NIH is willing to fund his research at face value as a benefit for finding cures for cancer. That’s an exciting shift as well.

Research into cannabinoids for PTSD

There’s been a lot of research on PTSD. We have a lot of people in our society these days suffering from it, from all of the wars that we’ve had recently, in addition to just the stress and pain of this fast-paced culture that we’re all living in right now. There’s been a lot of looking at how can cannabis help these people recover and come back to normalcy and enjoy a greater quality of life. We’ve shown that THC, when it stimulates the cb1 receptor, can interrupt memories. We all know that cannabis affects our memory, personally in anecdotally. But, it can, on a on a more clinical level when your memories are disrupted. That way, when you have PTSD, it can actually let you have that break where you can get control of your thoughts, and control that looping and that focusing on that negative experience you had which is the root of that ptsd. Again, through animal model research and showing that stimulation of the cb1 receptor eliminates these long term negative memories, there’s a real prospect of hope for people who are suffering from PTSD using cannabinoid therapy instead of other pharmaceutical alternatives. There was some great research at Temple University on chemotherapy induced neuropathy, as well. Neuropathy is the degeneration of the nervous system and there’s a lot of pain associated with it. The study found that when CBD was administered before the chemotherapy, that it could actually completely prevent the onset of chemotherapy induced neuropathy. So, for those people, that was an amazing amazing shift. In a 2010 FDA clinical trial they actually concluded that inhaled cannabis significantly reduced neuropathy as compared to placebo in human studies.

Cannabinoids and epilepsy

Fascinating to see the FDA actually doing this research which is not well-known. Some great things on cancer, ptsd, and neuropathy, and one that’s really been in the press a lot lately has been treatment of epilepsy. That’s happening through the activated CBD being administered to patients, often in tincture form or orally ingestible. It’s causing incredible shifts and changes in people who suffer from frequent seizures. I had a story from a fellow who called me and he went to tell me about his four-year-old daughter. You could hear the sounds of him making dinner in the background. I liked him from the first few words he said to me. He said, my daughter has 800 seizures a day and basically that means she’s in an intractable seizures all of the time. I’m really desperate to find something to help her. They’ve got her on all of these drugs causing all these side-effects and she has no quality of life, and no interaction with the family. It was a very sad story and he didn’t live anywhere near me in my state. I was able to help him with information about CBD and strain names that he could look for to try and find something to help her. He called me back about a month later. He said, Samantha, I want to tell you about what’s happening. he said she was at eight hundred seizures a day. We’ve had her on a CBD tincture now for a month or so and she’s down to one seizure a week. Later on, that young lady was down to one a month. It gives you chills when you think about it. Can you imagine eight hundred seizures a day? So, the fact that CBD can bring this kind of relief to people is something that’s opening doors and opening minds about cannabis as a therapeutic alternative. So many of these complicated drugs that are currently being used to treat these very serious conditions I’m excited to be a part of and share with you this current research, and maybe help open your mind and your landscape of permissions for trying cannabis and for supporting it in the use of your families.

THC, CBD, CBC and CBN.  What ‘s the difference and how can they help?
About Cannabinoids

We have a whole field of beautiful hemp plants, and these hemp plants create what is known as cannabinoids. There are over a hundred cannabinoids that can be found within the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids can be found in other plants. They’re found in cacao, so that’s why when we eat dark chocolate we feel great. But cannabis is definitely the plant that can produce the highest levels of cannabinoids. 

Common Cannabinoids 

There are cannabinoids that I’m sure you are familiar with such as THC, CBD, and some lesser-known ones like CBG and CBN. These are all acronyms. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD for cannabidiol. But, these are all compounds that are found within the plants, and our bodies actually interact with these compounds. Why are we having these reactions to them? It’s all because of this system called the endocannabinoid system. 

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a homeostasis-controlling system. Basically, it’s our physiology and how we keep ourselves in balance. We have a variety of endocannabinoid receptors, mostly cb1 and cb2, and they’re located throughout the body. cb1 Receptors are mostly in the central nervous system and parts of the brain. cb2 Receptors are mostly in the peripheral part of the body, in the skeletal system, in the GI tract, in the spleen, in the testes and in the ovaries. They control a number of other processes.


We make our own endocannabinoids that play a role in things like mood and appetite, motion and digestion, inflammation and immunity, but we could also tune up some of that homeostasis if we’re lacking it by use of phytocannabinoids, Phyto meaning plant. So, we have plant-based cannabinoids which we all know as marijuana. 

CBG and CBGa

Where do all the cannabinoids come from? CBG or cannabigerol CBGa in its form when it’s in the plant as an acid is what we know as the mother cannabinoid. All the cannabinoids come from CBG, and over time the plant has a gene that converts those cannabinoids, the CBG, into both THC and CBD. 

How to extract Cannabis Oil

In our process, we focus on using the buds which most of the cannabinoids are within, the flower of the plant. We also use the leaves but the sticks and stems aren’t really useful for extracting cannabinoids. In order for us to extract CBD from the plants, we have to first dry the plants. We actually hand-harvest every single plant and then we hang dry them in our barns. It takes about 10 days to two weeks for them to dry down and slowly cure those cannabinoids because cannabinoids and terpenes are highly volatile, meaning when they’re mixed up or there’s heat applied to them they will dissipate. In order to extract the cannabinoids, there are a lot of different ways of extraction, depending on what the finished product is. We use what is called ethanol extraction, we basically start first with a wash and we load a bag of ground hemp into a centrifuge. That’s going to rinse all the hemp leaves in ethanol, and that ethanol will extract the CBD other cannabinoids, as well as the terpenes. Then it goes into what’s called a rotovap. A rotovap is a slowly circulating vessel over very, very low heat. That heat slowly evaporates off the ethanol which then condenses onto the coils, and what’s left at the end is just the cannabis oil. 

The difference between THC Oil and CBD Oil

The difference between a marijuana plant and a hemp plant is the level of THC found in that plant. An industrial hemp plant is identified as a plant that produces less than 0.3 percent THC. A normal marijuana plant has about 15 to 20 percent THC in it, and sometimes these days you’re seeing them up as high as 25 to 30 percent. The THC is the cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant responsible for giving you that high effect. 

As humans we use cannabis recreationally, but it can also be used medicinally. Because our plants are at less than 0.3 percent, you won’t necessarily get that high feeling. However, the THC that’s in there is extremely important for what’s known as the entourage effect. The plant itself has about 500 compounds in it: A couple hundred cannabinoids, and there’s also a couple hundred terpenes. It takes all of those, the whole goodness of the plant, to have a maximal benefit. 

Terpenes are the smells that we get from plants. Lavender, for example, the terpene that’s responsible for the smell of lavender is called linalool. Linalool is found in cannabis. Something called myrcene, which is found in mangoes, is also found in cannabis. So, you’re looking for terpenes to give you a full spectrum oil as well as cannabinoids, and the most important I think for a full spectrum oil is the THC that’s in there. 

The CBD, just like THC, comes from the flowers, the buds, of the plant. CBD is mainly used for the following four things: anxiety, sleep, pain and inflammation. CBG, just like CBD, can be found right in the plant. We actually have varieties of hemp that are CBG dominant. From our experience with CBG, it gives energy and mental clarity. CBN is different to CBD and CBG because it doesn’t, there isn’t a CBN dominant plant. CBN is actually degraded THC.  THC oxidizes and converts into CBN.  So if you’ve ever smoked old weed and you felt tired after, it’s probably because the THC has converted into CBN, and CBN has sedating effects. So, it makes you more sleepy. Nothing’s 100. There’s no chance of overdose using cannabinoids. The part of the brain that controls respiration can be impeded by opioids and it can cause overdose and death. There’re no cannabinoid receptors in that part of the brain. There’re opioid receptors in that part of the brain. The cannabinoids work for everyone. I would say the response rate is between 80 and 90 when I certify patients. It’s not a lifetime certification in New York, it’s a year at a time.  I’d say 80 percent of patients are certified and the response is pretty overwhelmingly positive. If you’re thinking about trying out cannabinoid therapies, the first thing I would recommend is reaching out to your doctor because there are different interactions with different medications that you should be aware of, and hopefully your doctor can help you through that. Everyone’s systems respond differently to cannabinoids. In general, what we recommend is starting low and slow. It takes about a week to start noticing any kind of difference and we generally recommend taking CBD every single day for a month before making a judgment as to whether or not it works for you. It’s not an instant remedy. You’re not going to all of a sudden feel like on top of the world after a day of taking it. It takes commitment, and it takes routine, and it’s something that you have to make sure fits into your life.

About Cannabis Oil South Africa

Cannabis Oil South Africa supplies Phoenix Tears Cannabis Oil, a full extract THC oil (feco).  Also called Hemp Oil, we deliver to the whole of South Africa including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. 

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