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Main differences between CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBG, CBC and CBDV.
If you are just beginning to explore the many hemp products currently available on the market, you may not realize that there is much more to the world of CBD then you know at first sight. You are probably familiar with CBD itself – the substance derived from cannabis that has become hugely popular in recent years. Doctors and scientists have discovered that CBD can be used to control conditions such as inflammation, nausea, seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and chronic pain, all without psychoactive effects. But did you know that there are many more substances in the same family of chemical compounds (collectively known as cannabinoids), each with unique and beneficial properties?
First, what are cannabinoids?
If you are new to the world of CBD, you may feel confused by the above list of acronyms. So let’s start with a simpler question: what is a cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids were first discovered in Israel in the 1960s and are naturally occurring chemical compounds derived from the cannabis plant. These compounds are responsible for the many medicinal effects of cannabis, with each compound offering distinctive properties and benefits. To date, scientists have discovered more than 110 cannabinoids; more will probably be found if we continue to explore the complex molecular structures of the cannabis plant.
How does your body use cannabinoids?
Your body reacts differently to every cannabinoid connection thanks to a remarkably built-in mechanism: the endocannabinoid system. This complex system consists of receptors throughout the body that regulate health and homeostasis. The receptors are identified in almost every major organ system, from the brain and spinal cord to the gastrointestinal tract. CB1 receptors are most commonly associated with the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are linked to the immune system. These receptors, along with enzymes that help clean up after many endocannabinoid system processes, help our bodies maintain a stable internal environment.
When the receptors of the endocannabinoid system are activated by exposure to cannabinoids, they become reactive. This means that they can influence important body processes, including state of mind, memory, appetite and pain. The specific effects of cannabis-derived products depend on the specific compound used and the location of the receptors that bind to that compound; we will look more closely at the receptor-cannabinoid interactions of different CBD compounds in the sections below.
Are you interested in learning more about this? Take if you want a deeper dive in the endocannabinoid system before you read on to explore six of the most common cannabinoid compounds.
What is CBD
The best known of the cannabinoids is CBD, an abbreviation that stands for cannabidiol. In contrast to THC, the other known compound derived from cannabis, CBD has no psychoactive effects. That means that you can use it for medicinal purposes without getting “high”, so it’s safe to use even when you plan to work or drive. CBD is also an extremely flexible compound, so that it can be converted and incorporated into oils, gummies, pills, creams and more types of products to meet different therapeutic needs.
CBD is the best studied of the cannabinoid compounds, and the applications are exceptionally wide. Studies have shown that CBD can be used as a potential treatment for:
- Daily aches and pains (sports injuries, bumps and bruises, etc.)
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory conditions including arthritis
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Nausea and vomiting
- Attacks, seizures and convulsive disorders
- Skin conditions such as acne, skin rashes and eczema
What is CBDA?
Cannabidiolic acid, generally abbreviated to CBDA, is a cannabinoid produced by the stems, leaves and flowers of some cannabis plants. Via a process called decarboxylation, the acid is removed from CBDA and converted to CBD. This process is usually performed by heating or smoking cannabis varieties that are high in CBDA. For this reason, CBDA is sometimes considered the “precursor” of CBD.
CBD and CBDA share similar molecular structures, so their therapeutic effects are also similar; However, CBDA has been the subject of less extensive scientific research. Scientists have learned that CBDA acts primarily as an inhibitor of the COX-2 enzyme in the endocannabinoid system, leading to research into its effectiveness as a treatment for inflammation. Recent studies also have the efficacy of CBDA for certain species cancer tested and as one anti-emetic.
A final difference between CBD and CBDA arises in the possible consumption methods. Because CBDA is only found in unprocessed hemp plants that are not exposed to excessive heat or sunlight, it is usually extracted by pressing the plants; the juice can then be added to salads or other uncooked raw dishes for consumption. Plant resins, tinctures, and other non-activated extracts can also be sources of CBDA.
What is CBN
CBN is the abbreviation for cannabinol, another compound within the cannabinoid family. In fact it was CBN the first cannabinoid isolated by scientists. CBN is produced when THC is heated or exposed to oxygen; it also occurs naturally as the cannabis plant ages. Although CBN is derived from THC, it does not share the psychoactive properties of THC (meaning that you will not get high from CBN).
Within the endocannabinoid system, CBN binds to receptors less effectively than many other cannabinoids. However, it has been extensively studied as a useful compound to improve sleep health. Scientists have discovered that CBN works as a powerful sedative, with effects comparable to common sleep-inducing agents such as diazepam. Studies with mice have shown that CBN prolongs sleep time; additional studies suggest that this effect is enhanced when used in combination with THC.
In addition to the implications for sleep health, CBN has been studied as a potential stimulant for bone tissue growth. Research shows that it can activate stem cells that facilitate the production of new bone, making it potentially useful for healing fractures.
Additional studies have investigated the analgesic, antibiotic, anti-convulsive, and anti-inflammatory applications of CBN. However, CBN is currently not available everywhere as a supplement.
What is MEB?
Like the other substances in this overview, CBG (abbreviation for cannabigerol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with a variety of promising medical applications. CBG is actually the precursor of its more famous cousins, CBD and THC. Just like CBDA, exposure to light or heat CBG in the cannabis plant breaks down in these more well-known compounds.
Most strains of cannabis contain relatively little CBG, often less than 1%. However, that does not mean that this cannabinoid is less promising when it comes to potential applications. CBG works together with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system; during these interactions, it is believed to naturally increase dopamine levels, helping to regulate sleep, mood and appetite. CBG is also thought to inhibit GABA uptake in the brain and block serotonin receptors – both have positive implications for the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Studies have shown that MEB is particularly effective for certain physiological systems and symptoms, including:
Endocannabinoid receptors are highly concentrated in the structures of the eye and CBG has proven to be particularly effective in reducing the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.
A recent study offered promising results for MEB as a cancer-fighting compound, with the potential to block the receptors that cause cancer cell growth. Scientists saw inhibition of colorectal cancer cell growth in mice treated with CBG, providing an exciting new path for additional research and treatment for cancer patients.
A study conducted in Europe revealed the antibiotic properties of CBG, and discovered that it was effective in local applications in combating Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains and bacteria resistant to different classes of antibiotics.
CBG has also been studied as a potential treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, nerve cell degeneration, appetite stimulation, and bladder dysfunction.
What is CBC
Discovered more than five decades ago, cannabichromes (abbreviated CBC) is considered to be one of the most promising cannabinoids in recent medical research. Like CBD and THC, CBC is derived from CBDA when the acid is degraded by exposure to heat or ultraviolet light.
Non-intoxicating and without “high” like other CBD compounds, CBC is less well researched than some cannabis derivatives. However, scientists have discovered a variety of possible uses for this cannabinoid.
Within the endocannabinoid system, CBC binds most effectively with vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1); both receptor types are linked to the perception of pain through the body. This means that CBC can function as an alternative to traditional painkillers such as NSAIDs, but without their potentially harmful side effects. CBC can be particularly effective for the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, especially in combination with THC.
Additional studies have shown that CBC may be a cancer therapist, in addition to what CBG primarily works to inhibit cancer cell growth. Although research in this area has been limited so far, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBC can also make it an effective acne treatment; Studies suggest that it might work to prevent the inflammation of the sebaceous gland at the root of many types of acne.
Although these therapeutic benefits overlap with many other cannabinoids, CBC distinguishes itself by what is known as the “entourage effect.” Researchers believe that CBC can work synergistically in combination with other cannabinoids to provide even more effective treatments for many of the conditions described above.
What is CBDV?
The latest in our cannabinoid compound collection is cannabidivarin, better known as CBDV. CBDV is very similar to CBD at the molecular level, but recent research has shown that its applications are exceptionally unique and valuable for people with neurological disorders.
Provisional studies in mice show that CBDV has an enormous untapped potential for the treatment of epilepsy and similar neurological disorders. As an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic drug, CBDV may be able to help patients suffering from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other seizures. In addition to reducing the duration and intensity of attacks, CBDV could work to prevent convulsions in the event of an attack. Early research into these applications for CBDV is so promising that GW Pharmaceuticals, a cannabis-focused European company, is working on a patent on the use of CBDV for the treatment of attacks.
In addition to convulsion treatment, CBDV can be used by patients who experience vomiting and nausea, especially when those conditions are caused by chemotherapy. It has also been studied as an appetite suppressant and as a treatment that relieves symptoms of Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Like all cannabinoids discussed above, CBDV is non-psychoactive.
How do I know which cannabinoid works best for me?
After this extensive explanation of these different acronyms and abbreviations starting with the letter “C”, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by our collection of ordinary cannabinoids. You may also be wondering how you can find the CBD connection that is suitable for you and your physical needs. The good news is that with so many cannabinoids to choose from, there is probably one in between that matches your care and needs.
When refining your choices to find the right cannabinoid, start with your symptoms first. For common ailments – including pain, inflammation, anxiety, sleep disorders, eczema and acne – CBD is an option that is effective and readily available in a wide range of formats, from the so-called topicals, ointments, oils to gummies and pills.
If you consider cannabinoids as a treatment option for an unusual or potentially life-threatening condition, always start by contacting your doctor first. Your doctor may have access to the groundbreaking research that is conducted every year on hemp-derived compounds, from CBDA all the way to CBDV.
Disclaimer: the explanation, terms and descriptions discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always do your own research into CBD or cannabis related products and always consult your doctor first when in doubt.