Cannabinoids, the molecules that have special properties and provide the therapeutic relief of cannabis, were first discovered in 1964. Since then, more than 100 cannabinoids have been isolated and identified. While most are present in only trace amounts and play relatively minor roles in the efficacy of cannabis, major examples like THC, CBG, and CBD are critical to giving the plant its medicinal qualities.
Although relatively little is known about the minor, or supporting, cannabinoids in marijuana, the plant is considerably more complex than originally thought. The recent discovery of seven new cannabinoids by the University of Mississippi brings the total to 111.
The discovery of additional cannabinoids — or more information regarding known cannabis elements — is always welcome news. The entourage effect has shown that cannabinoids work synergistically, serving to enhance or buffer the effects of their sibling molecules. Without a solid knowledge of all cannabinoids, it can easily be argued that the full medical potential of the herb will never be realized.
For example, cannabichromene , or CBC, has been found to enhance the effects of THC. Likewise, another cannabinoid, cannabigerol (CBG), has the opposite effect on THC, serving to buffer its effects and decrease its psychoactive properties. Some cannabinoids also work in tandem with the body’s immune system, helping kill cancer cells or reduce inflammation.
Many experts believe that several diseases and ailments are simply a deficiency in the body’s own internal, or endocannabinoid, system (something called cannabinoid deficiency). This mechanism plays a critical role in the immune system and health of cells throughout the body. It is even believed to help fight aging and a variety of age-related ailments, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.
Will these newly discovered cannabinoids play a critical role in future formulations for marijuana extracts or concentrates? What will they reveal about the efficacy of single-cannabinoid extracts such as CBD oils and other products? Would adding one or two minor cannabinoids to the mix create an interactive effect that is greater than the efficacy of the individual cannabinoids alone?
With the parents of epileptic children across the country reporting that many don’t receive the necessary relief from CBD-only oil, will additional knowledge of cannabis and its powerful cannabinoid molecules provide a method by which these medicines might be modified or enhanced to offer help to sufferers of particular diseases?
The discovery of these new cannabinoids solidifies the need for more cannabis research, enabling a better understanding of the healing powers of this fascinating plant.