Cannabis flower has hundreds of different components. This includes many unique active ingredients that work together to give you the experience you’ve come to expect.
Despite cannabis existing on our planet for thousands of years, we are just now beginning to learn more about the compounds within—what they are, how they work, and their potential benefits.
The most prevalent and recognized compounds in weed are called cannabinoids. The most famous is THC, with CBD being a close second. But they aren’t the only cannabinoids; it turns out there are at least 200 different cannabinoids (that we know about).
All of these ingredients are important because they enhance the entourage effect, which is the theory that all parts of the plant work in harmony to get you the best results. However, cannabinoids are typically the stars of the show.
Curious about the wide array of cannabinoids—and what they may be able to do for you? Read on for a deep dive!
What are the most well-known compounds in cannabis flower?
When most people think about the stuff inside weed, cannabinoids like THC are typically the first thing to mind. Let’s explore more about THC and some of the more well-known cannabis compounds.
Short for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is probably the most famous compound in weed. It’s responsible for the high we associate with the plant. The amount of THC in cannabis flower can vary widely depending on the cannabis strain, but the average is usually anywhere from 20%-35%.
In addition to giving you an elevated feeling, THC has been found to have several potential health benefits. The cannabinoid has been studied as a potential pain reliever, appetite stimulant, nausea reducer, sleep promoter, and much more.
Cannabidiol—aka CBD—is another cannabinoid that has exploded in popularity over the last several years. A non-psychoactive molecule, many people consume CBD for its perceived therapeutic benefits. It’s predominantly found in industrial hemp.
Quickly emerging in the cannabis market, CBN has begun to make a splash with consumers. Short for cannabinol, CBN is a cannabinoid best known for its relaxing effects. It is derived from THC but is less psychoactive.
CBN is not typically prevalent in strains of weed. Instead, it is usually isolated in a lab by applying heat and oxygen to THC. Older cannabis often contains CBN because the THC has oxidized and turned into CBN.
What are the lesser-known cannabinoids in cannabis flower?
CBN isn’t the only so-called minor cannabinoid on dispensary shelves. Let’s explore some of the other compounds popping up in the marketplace.
THC-A is one minor cannabinoid that has grown in popularity over the last several years. Also called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, THC-A is known as the “mother cannabinoid” because it’s the precursor to THC.
THC-A turns into THC when exposed to heat. When you light a joint or a bowl, it’s the fire that’s converting THC-A in the plant to THC.
Another lesser-known cannabinoid you may be seeing more of is THC-V (aka tetrahydrocannabivarin). Present in a number of strains of weed, particularly African landrace strains like Durban Poison, THC-V is mildly psychoactive.
THC-V has been shown to be an appetite suppressant, unlike its cousin THC which tends to give people the munchies. Because of this, the cannabinoid is being explored by researchers as a possible treatment for diabetes and obesity.
If THC-A is the mother of THC, CBG (or cannabigerol) is the grandmother of all cannabinoids. When a cannabis plant is in its early growth stages, it begins to express CBGA. Over time, this turns into CBD-A or THC-A, but sometimes leaves a bit of CBG too.
Nowadays, most CBG on the market comes from hemp strains bred to be high in the cannabinoid. It can also be isolated through extraction methods. The most popular CBG strain is called White.
CBG is non-psychoactive and mostly used for wellness reasons. An anecdotal survey of patients using CBG saw the majority of respondents finding the cannabinoid helpful for easing chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
However, more studies will need to be conducted before we know for sure if CBG is effective.
Another lesser-known cannabinoid used primarily for therapeutic reasons is CBC. Short for cannabichromene, CBC has been shown to play an important role in the entourage effect. It will not get you high on its own but may help THC or CBD work even better.
CBC tends to only show up in trace amounts in weed strains, but a few that tend to have higher concentrations include Charlotte’s Web, Jorge’s Diamond, and Maui Dream. There are many CBC isolate tinctures on the market as well.
While studies on CBC remain limited, preliminary research shows it may help soothe pain, act as a neuroprotectant, and could even fight acne. You could see CBC face creams will be at your local drug store sooner than later!
Delta-8-THC is becoming more popular in states that do not have legal weed. It does not naturally occur in cannabis; instead, it’s created in a lab setting. Usually derived from hemp, delta-8-THC is psychoactive but is technically legal in most places thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.
Delta-8-THC tends to have potent effects, with many people reporting feeling sleepy when they consume it. There are a wide variety of delta-8-THC products on the market, including vape pens, edibles, and hemp flower that has been sprayed with delta-8 oil.
Strains of weed with different chemical profiles
With so many different compounds found in cannabis, the combinations are essentially endless. Each strain (or cultivar as they’re often called) has a unique chemical profile made up of different amounts of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active ingredients.
Most cannabis strains are divided into sativa, indica, or hybrid. They are divided based on the way the plants grow as well as their dominant cannabinoids and terpenes.
For example, indica strains usually have higher concentrations of myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and humulene. Sativas tend to feature limonene, terpinolene, and pinene. Hybrids have a little bit of everything!
The best strains of weed will always have a robust blend of cannabinoids and terpenes, offering potent effects and rich flavors.
What we hope to learn in the future about cannabis flower
We have only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to research on the cannabis plant. Even though it has existed on this planet for thousands of years, federal law prohibited studies in the modern scientific era.
Thankfully, a new wave of legalization and increased interest in the powers of the plant have led to an increase in the number of clinical trials and studies on cannabis flower, its chemical compounds, and how it interacts with the human body.
There is still a lot we do not know, but the future holds a wealth of knowledge. We will soon discover more cannabinoids and terpenes and reveal their benefits. There may even be DNA tests that can recommend specific strains for each individual—the sky's the limit.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.