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Cannabinoids in Cannabis – Their Health Benefits and Possible Side Effects

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Cannabinoids in cannabis. What are they, and on a scale of ‘avocado salad’ to ‘bacon double cheeseburger’, how good are they for your health and wellbeing? Well my friends, my fellow stoners and all y’all midnight takers, pull up a seat, roll a fatty, puff, puff pass and let me explain.

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in every plant and the humble herb we all know and love naturally produces its own. These are called phytocannabinoids. And as we know, despite our scientific understanding of marijuana being stunted throughout history by prohibition, restrictive regulations and opposition from the Big Pharma Cartel, phytocannabinoids are some very special compounds.

Once upon a time, in the paleospliffic era, cannaboffins originally thought there were only eight of these special compounds found in marijuana, which included the well-known ménage à trois; THC, CBD and CBN. However, weedologists are now saying that there are over 100 of these fancy chemicals in our weed. That’s a lot of cannabinoids, man. And knowing that they can all affect our central nervous system, it really makes you ponder. What’s going on in our bodies when it’s 420 ‘o’ clock or 710-time?

Cannabinoids in Cannabis – What are they and how do they work?

When it comes to thinking about cannabinoids in cannabis, think of them in the same way as the vitamins and minerals you find in food. As you know, vitamins and minerals provide your body with the nutrients it needs to work properly and stay healthy. In fact, they can help heal wounds, bolster your immune system and repair cellular damage. And so too do phytocannabinoids.

Not only do they give your body what it needs to function efficiently if you’re a medical user (spoiler alert, THC can repair cellular damage caused by Alzheimer’s), phytocannabinoids can also improve your mental well-being (CBD is great at tackling depression and anxiety) and they provide the euphoric psychological effects which so many of us appreciate.

How do the cannabinoids do this?

Well, budtender wisdom tells us that at a basic level, cannabinoids are the things which give each strain of cannabis its unique recreational and/or pharmaceutical qualities. That’s why there are specific varieties of cannabis which are best for 420-connoisseurs to blaze, those for Mary Jane fans to get medicated and those that are the mixture of the two for everyone else in between. However, it’s at a microscopical and chemical level where things get really interesting.

Each cannabis cannabinoid affects our body’s endocannabinoid receptor system in a different way. These interactions, through a complex series of neuropathways, alter the release of chemicals in our brains and in turn, produce a wide array of effects throughout our bodies. And most of these are positive.

Interesting Side Note: For a strain to have its desired result, weed must have a trace amount of THC in it. Cannabinoids only work if they work together. It’s called the Entourage Effect. That’s why Charlotte’s Web, even though it’s hailed as a fantastic strain to help prevent epileptic seizures, reduce pain, ease anxiety, and lessen inflammation, must have a modest amount of psychoactive THC in it to work effectively.

So, let’s look in detail at the major cannabinoids and why, like avocado salads, they’re so good for you. And are best served warm… After all, you apply heat to spliffs, bongs, chillums, pipes, dab rigs and vaporizers for a reason. Phytocannabinoids only became active once marijuana reaches at least 320°F (160°C).

Cannabinoids: The Good

As you probably already know, THC and CBD are the most talked about of cannabis cannabinoids. THC is what gets you high and CBD is the quintessential chemical compound which ends need to receive treefer’s therapeutic effects. But what do you really know about them? Not to mention the other cannabis cannabinoids that crop up in our ganja.


The most famous – or should that be infamous – cannabis cannabinoid known to humankind. As most cannabis connoisseurs know, Tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary psychoactive compound (actually, it’s one of only a handful) which creates marijuana’s unique euphoric high hence why THC is the most sought-after cannabinoid for recreational users.

Look beyond its psychoactive nature, though, and this phytocannabinoid is also great for:

  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • inhibiting tumor growth to prevent cancer
  • stimulating appetite while reducing feelings of nausea
  • reducing pain and muscle stiffness, particularly in those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis
  • combating insomnia by promoting deep sleep
  • increasing insulin sensitivity.

Glioblastoma multiforme is a deadly and hard to treat form of brain cancer with limited treatment options and a low life expectancy. Direct injection of THC into the glioblastoma tumors inhibits tumor cell proliferation and increases the median life expectancy by about 24 weeks. A cellular study found that CBD enhances this effect of THC.

Dayum. For a cannabis cannabinoid that gets you high, THC sure does a lot of other great things too.


CBD or cannabidiol is the second most famous cannabis cannabinoid and is arguably the poster child for medicinal marijuana. Thanks to being a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, its legalization resulted in a whirlwind of cannabis research which revealed that not only does this compound help ease pain and discomfort, it also – and for some, quite handily – counteracts the cognitive effects of THC… Some may say all of the goodness with none of the effects which aptly gave marijuana the nickname Laughing Grass.

CBD, in controlled doses is great for:

  • improving mental health and combatting diseases like depression
  • preventing seizures in epileptic patients
  • combating neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by repairing cellular damage
  • reducing inflammation and providing pain relief.

At lower doses, CBD has physiological effects that promote and maintain health, including antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotection effects. For instance, it is more effective than vitamin C and E as a neuroprotective antioxidant and can ameliorate skin conditions such as acne. ~ Kerstin Iffland


CBN, or cannabinol is the natural degradation of THC. In non-nerd speak, what this means is that when you spark a spliff, a chemical reaction occurs between the weed, the heat and the air which breaks down the THC and converts it into CBN. (Which is why proper storage is essential for veteran stoners and cannivores who want to maintain the psychoactive potency of their cannabis and edibles).

CBN, despite some seeing it as a sign that marijuana has gone bad, works great as:

  • a sedative
  • as an antibiotic
  • as a painkiller
  • it also promotes the growth of bone cells
  • is an anti-convulsive
  • stimulates appetite


CBC or cannabichromene, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid which enhances the therapeutic effects of THC without intensifying its psychotropic properties. Like a great woman being behind every great man, CBC is THC’s down bitch. Together, they make for great anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal medicines, thanks to this cannabinoid’s ability to destroy or inhibit the growth of nasty microorganisms.

It’s also great for:

  • its neuroprotective qualities and ability for neurogenesis (brain growth)
  • inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors in breasts
  • chronic pain relief.


Like in 1993 when Prince decided to change his name to the now iconic ‘Love Symbol’, this phytocannabinoids seems pretty impossible to pronounce. Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol, or Delta-8 for short (and to save my fingers from unnecessary typing!), is a relative newcomer to the 420 scene. That’s primarily thanks to the modernization of pot smoking paraphernalia and the emergence of oils, dabbing and vaping because you must heat your weed to over 347°F (175°C) to activate this particular compound.

Like its cousin of a similar name, Delta-8 is a psychoactive cannabis cannabinoid. However, the highs are not as intense, and they do not last as long. However, what Delta-8 lacks in cerebral euphoria, it makes up for in its ability to kick cancer’s ass.

Current research shows that this cannabis cannabinoid destroys cancer cells and reduces the size of tumors on a large scale. In Jerusalem, for example, scientists have revealed that Delta-8 successfully treated over 475 cancer cases and works as a powerful antiemetic capable of drastically reducing nausea and vomiting.

It’s also great for:

  • improving learning and memory
  • reducing anxiety
  • pain relief
  • combating nausea and vomiting while improving appetite


CBDV, or cannabidivarin, is an offshoot of CBD. Found only when marijuana is heated to over 356°F (180°C), it’s a totally non-psychoactive compound which, thanks to the Entourage Effect, heightens the powerful anticonvulsant effects of CBD. This makes it the perfect cannabis cannabinoid to ingest to help reduce the severity of seizures. It is also beneficial in the treatment of pain and mood disorders.

Cannabinoids: The Bad

Even though I’ve just highlighted some of the amazing things that phytocannabinoids can do, did you know that, like taking too many vitamin and mineral supplements, having too much of a good thing when it comes to ingesting cannabinoids can also be bad for you?

I’m not talking about ‘addiction’. I’m not talking about pulling a whitey or experiencing a green-out. I’m not talking about withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and insomnia, or cotton mouth. I’m not even talking about red eyes and memory impairment.

What I’m talking about are the explicit side effects of phytocannabinoids. I mean, it’s all well and good saying that CBD is a cure-all cannabis cannabinoid, but did you know that too much of it can cause some epileptics to have more violent seizures? It can also worsen the tremors of a Parkinson’s sufferer, can cause low blood pressure and can even become less effective over time?

Sure, there have been zero reported cannabis overdose deaths in the history of ever, but if NBC’s public service announcements have taught us anything, it’s the more you know and all that… So, what are the possible side effects you can get from overdoing phytocannabinoids?

(Oh, and FYI, yes, you can take too many vitamins and minerals which can result in nausea, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, hair loss, fatigue, nerve damage and all other kinds of “holy crap, I didn’t realize!” health consequences!)

Acute Cannabinoid Poisoning: The Ugly

So acute cannabinoid poisoning might sound scary, sensationalist, almost, but that’s the term used when phytocannabinoids have overstimulated your endocannabinoid system. It basically means that the cannabis cannabinoids have sent your neurotransmitters a bit batty because you’ve boarded the bong. Shame on you!

But in all seriousness, the toxic effects I’m going to cover (not my choice of words by the way, blame science!) aren’t what you’ll experience if you occasionally get too high – or medicated – for comfort. Rather, they’re the side effects you may experience from chronic use. And you may end up wondering why I’ve not covered CBC, CBN, Δ-8-THC or CBDV in this ‘bad cannabinoid’ prison line up, but that’s because, at present, there appear to be no scientific findings to suggest that they have any negative side effects!

It’s also important to note at this point that there’s an increased chance in experiencing these side effects if you use synthetic marijuana, such as K2/Spice, or artificial cannabinoids such as Cannabicyclohexanol.


We all know the typical side effects of overindulging in THC. You either pull a whitey or experience a green-out where you feel, amongst other things; nauseous, dizzy, paranoid, the sensation called ‘couch-lock’ and an increased heart rate. Other side effects include getting the munchies, laughing hysterically at the most random of things (the size of your hands, usually), or sedation. On the couch, in the most uncomfortable of positions.

However, there are other undesirable side effects of long-term THC absorption:

  • erectile dysfunction
  • decreased hand steadiness (not a problem if you suffer from the first I suppose!)
  • nystagmus – a condition of involuntary eye movements which may result in reduced or limited vision
  • acute psychosis
  • seizures
  • hyperthermia
  • rhabdomyolysis – the breakdown of damaged skeletal muscle
  • kidney failure
  • reduced fertility


It’s hard to knock CBD. It’s even harder to comprehend that it may have negative side effects for some. Particularly chronic users or those who struggle to dose correctly. That being said, compared to the other phytocannabinoids, CBD does have a better side effect profile.

Here are some of its side effects:

  • diarrhea
  • alterations of cell viability – an increase in the number of dead cells found in a sample compared to those that are living
  • reduced fertilization
  • inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism and drug transporters – meaning the liver finds it more difficult – or impossible – to break down other forms of medication

Whilst the list isn’t as extensive – or as scary sounding – as the potential side effects of THC, the implications that these adverse reactions have are. I mean, no-one enjoys having the runs, do they? But having diarrhea is bearable if you’re in close proximity to a bathroom. But to think that by using CBD you could be preventing other potentially lifesaving medications from working effectively, or that you’re reducing your chances of having a child… Some may say it’s not worth thinking about.

But, this is where I jump in and remind everyone that these are possible side effects. More research needs to be done before we exclusively commend or condemn CBD.

Cannabinoids: Avocado Salad or Bacon Double Cheeseburger?

Overall, phytocannabinoids seem to be as good for your health and wellbeing as an avocado salad. Their health benefits appear to far outweigh any of their possible side effects, particularly when dabbing or vaping because you’re consuming the cannabinoids at their optimum temperatures for effective use.

In fact, many cannaboffins think that cannabis cannabinoids are so good that they’re calling marijuana humankind’s missing nutrient and are asking for it to become a new dietary staple. Why? Because cannabis, as we’ve learnt, has a beneficial impact on our bodies and engages our endocannabinoid system, which, if left neglected can result in endocannabinoid deficiency. “A disease”, which according to Dr. Michele Ross (neuroscientist), “you probably have never even heard of”.

In a recent interview, neurologist and medical researcher Ethan Russo explains why endocannabinoid deficiency matters – and why, like a vitamin and mineral shortage, the body’s largest neurotransmitter system needs cannabis daily.

If you don’t have enough endocannabinoids you have pain where there shouldn’t be pain. You would be sick, meaning nauseated. You would have a lowered seizure threshold and just a whole litany of other problems.

Like Joel Stanley, CEO of CW Hemp, I believe that phytocannabinoids should be part of everyone’s diet, just like all the vitamins and minerals we find in our food or take supplements for.

And in my opinion, the only way that cannabis cannabinoids have anything to do with bacon double cheeseburgers is when you order a couple because you have the munchies.

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