Cannabis

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The Plant

 Cannabis (/ˈkænəbɪs/) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The number of species within the genus is disputed. Three species may be recognized: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis; C. ruderalis may be included within C. sativa; all three may be treated as subspecies of a single species, C. sativa; or C. sativa may be accepted as a single undivided species. The genus is widely accepted as being indigenous to and originating from Central Asia, with some researchers also including upper South Asia in its origin 

Cannabinoids

THE MOST COMMON CANNABINOIDS FOUND IN CANNABIS


Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)

THCA is the main constituent in raw cannabis. THCA converts to Δ9-THC when burned, vaporized, or heated at a certain temperature. THCA, CBDA, CBGA, and other acidic cannabinoids hold the most COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition, contributing to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects. This cannabinoid also acts as an antiproliferative and antispasmodic.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

The most abundant cannabinoid present in marijuana, THC is responsible for cannabis’ most well-known psychoactive effects. THC acts as a partial agonist at the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The compound is a mild analgesic, or painkiller, and cellular research has shown that it has antioxidant activity.


Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)

CBDA, similar to THCA, is the main constituent in cannabis with elevated CBD levels. CBDA selectively inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, contributing to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects.


Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD has tremendous medical potential. This is particularly true when the correct ratio of CBD to THC is applied to treat a particular condition. CBD acts as an antagonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, yet it has a low binding affinity for both. This suggests that CBD’s mechanism of action is mediated by other receptors in the brain and body.


Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is produced from the degradation of THC. There is usually very little to no CBN in a fresh plant. CBN acts as a weak agonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, with greater affinity for CB2 receptors than CB1. The degradation of THC into CBN is often described as creating a sedative effect.


Cannabigerol (CBG)

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBG’s antibacterial effects can alter the overall effects of cannabis. CBG is thought to kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, (particularly in its acidic CBGA form,) inhibit cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, and promote bone growth. It acts as a low-affinity antagonist at the CB1 receptor. CBG pharmacological activity at the CB2 receptor is currently unknown.


Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC is most frequently found in tropical cannabis varieties. CBC is known to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, inhibit cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, and promote bone growth. The effects of CBC appear to be mediated through non-cannabinoid receptor interactions.


Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

THCV is a minor cannabinoid found in only some strains of cannabis. The only structural difference between THCV and THC is the presence of a propyl (3 carbon) group, rather than a pentyl (5 carbon) group, on the molecule. Though this variation may seem subtle, it causes THCV to produce very different effects than THC. These effects include a reduction in panic attacks, suppression of appetite, and the promotion of bone growth. THCV acts as an antagonist at the CB1 receptor and a partial agonist at the CB2 receptor.


Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

Like THCV, CBDV differs from CBD only by the substitution of a pentyl (5 carbon) for a propyl (3 carbon) sidechain. Although research on CBDV is still in its initial stages, recent studies have shown promise for its use in the management of epilepsy. This is due to its action at TRPV1 receptors and modulation of gene expression.

Terpenes

 Terpenes are the organic compounds responsible for creating the unique aroma of each individual cannabis plant. Terpenes do more than determine the scent finger print, they also provide therapeutic benefits like their cannabinoid partners, THC and CBD..

Flavinoids

 The main function of flavonoids is to protect plants, and, at the cellular level, to serve as cell cycle regulators. Supplied with food for the human body, the flavonoids exhibit high biological activity and display antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.

Increasing scientific evidence has shown that polyphenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, which are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, or cocoa, can have anti-inflammatory properties. ... Flavonoids are also known as potent antioxidants with the potential to attenuate tissue damage or fibrosis.  

The Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect

Raphael Mechoulam First described in 1998 by Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam, 

the basic idea of the entourage effect is that cannabinoids within the cannabis plant work together, or possess synergy, 

and affect the body in a mechanism similar to the body’s own endocannabinoid system.

This theory serves as the foundation for a relatively controversial idea within pharmacology community, that in certain 

cases whole plant extractions serve as better therapeutic agents than individual cannabinoid extractions. 

The entourage effect theory has been expanded in recent times by Wagner and Ulrich-Merzenich, who define the four 

basic mechanisms of whole plant extract synergy as follows:

Ability to affect multiple targets within the body

Ability to improve the absorption of active ingredients

Ability to overcome bacterial defense mechanisms

Ability to minimize adverse side effects.


Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of cannabis as a therapeutic agent for muscle spasms associated 

with multiple sclerosis. A study conducted by Wilkinson and colleagues determined that whole-plant extracts were more 

effective than THC alone.

Researchers compared 1mg THC vs. 5mg/kg cannabis extract with the equivalent amount of THC, and found the whole 

plant extract to have significantly more antispastic effect.

The researchers attributed this result to the presence of cannabidiol (CBD) within the cannabis extract, which helps to 

facilitate the activity of the body’s endocannbinoid system.

Improving Absorption Of Active Ingredients

The entourage effect can also work to improve the absorption of cannabis extracts. Cannabinoids are chemically polar 

compounds, which makes them at times makes them difficult for the body to absorb in isolation.

“With the assistance of terpenoids like caryophyllene, absorption of cannabinoids can be increased.”

Absorption of topicals provides a prototypical example of this problem. The skin is made up of two layers, also known 

as a bi-layer, which makes it difficult for for very polar molecules like water and cannabioids to pass through.

With the assistance of terpenoids like caryophyllene, absorption of cannabinoids can be increased and therapeutic benefits 

achieved.

The entourage effect also accounts for cannabis extracts to be effective in treating various bacterial infections. 

There are a number of studies which show the antibacterial properties of cannabinoids.

“Whole-plant cannabis extracts have non-cannabinoid constituents which also have antibacterial properties.”

However, bacteria develop defense mechanisms over time to combat the effects of antibiotics ultimately allowing them to 

become resistant to therapies which were previously effective.

Thus, it is beneficial that whole-plant cannabis extracts have non-cannabinoid constituents that also have antibacterial 

properties. These molecules attack bacteria through pathways which differ from cannabinoid pathways. Given the attack 

on multiple fronts, the development of bacterial resistance is limited.

Minimizing Adverse Side Effects

Finally, the entourage effect allows certain cannabinoids to modulate the negative side effects of other cannabinoids. 

The most fitting example of this is CBD’s ability to modulate the perceived negative effects of THC.

Many patients have heard about (or experienced) the increased anxiety and paranoia sometimes associated with cannabis 

consumption. Thanks to the entourage effect, research has shown that CBD can be effective in minimizing the anxiety 

associated with THC, lowering users’ feelings of paranoia.

As you can see, THC, CBD, and the remaining cannabinoids don’t have to compete with one another – they can work in 

tandem alongside the other components of cannabis extracts to provide therapeutic relief for a wide variety of ailments.

  

Chen A (20 April 2017). "Some of the Parts: Is Marijuana's "Entourage Effect" Scientifically Valid?". Scientific American. Retrieved 2017-12-31. 

Decarboxylation

 

What is decarboxylation and why is it important?


Decarboxylation is the magic behind making cannabis a potent additive to food.

Simply put, it’s a chemical reaction that is achieved through heating up raw cannabis to a temperature at which it releases a carboxyl group and becomes psychoactive.

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) is the active component in raw cannabis, and it’s not a psychoactive compound by default.

Through decarboxylation, we’re essentially applying heat to plant material so that the THCA gets converted to THC, enabling us to get high.


Chemistry of decarboxylation


Cannabinoids in raw cannabis have an extra carboxyl ring in their molecular structure.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the two most prevalent: THC and CBD.

This extra carboxyl group gets removed in the process of decarboxylation due to the effect heat has on their chemical structure.

Once enough heat has been applied, the molecule will release a carboxyl group. That carboxyl group then gets replaced with a hydrogen molecule.