Meet the Cannabinoids: THC & CBD are the most well known, but there’s >100 to be studied both individually and in combination

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To equate the cannabis plant with just THC is to equate all cars with Chevy’s. As we’ve said before: Cannabis contains multitudes, as there are some 500 compounds in the plant including more than 100 cannabinoids, the most abundant and well known being THC and CBD.

But others are emerging and starting to gain traction with the public. This month, for example, the LA Times profiled the therapeutic properties of 8 of them including THC, CBD, and CBG, which seems quite promising (as does CBDA, though not mentioned in the piece).

Keep in mind that cannabinoids work not only individually but in combination, as well – with each other and with the other non-cannabinoids; the terpenes, for example, that come in about 200 different flavors and give each plant its distinct aroma.

In fact, the National Institutes of Health recently awarded $3 million to “investigate the pain-relieving properties of cannabinoids and terpenes.” One grant was to “evaluate … cannabinoids and selected terpenes alone and in planned combinations to determine their potential efficacy as pain relievers” (emphasis added).

Biological synergy between the various compounds, the idea that the whole works better than the sum of the parts – the so-called ‘entourage effect‘ – invites an intriguing question: Just how many ways are there to combine the >100 cannabinoids and all of the terpenes, at what concentrations, using which routes of administration, for which conditions, in ways that prove effective?

The answer is, we don’t know yet, because as Mark Ware, a pain medicine specialist at McGill University in Montreal, puts its: “I think we’re at a very early stage of understanding how the individual components work in terms of their mechanism and how they interact.”

In other words, we’ve only just begun.

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