Phytocannabinoids, or “cannabinoids,” are the natural chemical compounds produced by cannabis flowers that provide natural protection to the plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids unique to cannabis and they’re also found in everyday plants too! You may already be familiar with echinacea, used to soothe a sore throat, and combat cold and flu symptoms.

Primary Cannabinoids 


  • psychoactive
  • used for acute pain relief, stress, appetite, sleep
  • most prevalent cannabinoid


Cannabidiol (CBD)

  • Non-intoxicating
  • Used for anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, arthritis
  • Major phytocannabinoid, making up to 40% of plant extract

Other Cannabinoids

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCa)

  • Psychoactive, but far less than THC for most people; non-psychoactive for some
  • Delivers the same healing properties of THC, without the psychoactivity
  • THCa is the precursor to activated THC: THCa converts to psychoactive THC when heated
  • Anti-inflammatory properties for treatment of arthritis and lupus
  • Neuroprotective properties for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Anti-emetic properties for treatment of nausea and appetite loss
  • Anti-proliferative properties noted in studies of prostate cancer

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDa)

  • Non-psychoactive and, similar to THCa, CBDa is the precursor to activated CBD

Cannabinol (CBN)

  • Non-psychoactive; it is a breakdown product of THCa

  • Used for pain management, inflammation, insomnia

  • CBN is widely known for its sedative effect

Cannabigerol (CBG)

  • non-psychoactive

  • used for muscular disorders, skin conditions, inflammation, anxiety

  • early studies suggest that CBG is an analgesic and can aid with eyesight, muscle contractions, psoriasis, and depression.

Cannabinoids closely resemble the natural compounds produced by our own bodies, which are called endocannabinoids. These molecules bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, which were first discovered in 1988; this connection of endocannabinoids and receptors that regulate bodily function is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).


Why Are Cannabinoids Important?

Like endocannabinoids, each cannabinoid has a different composition and influence on the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which provides the opportunity to successfully treat a wide variety of ailments and provide relief to an array of symptoms; early research shows that each cannabinoid has unique medicinal properties.

The concentration of cannabinoids varies with each cannabis strain. Knowing the percentage of certain cannabinoids in your cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products can help you understand how the plant will affect your body and can help you choose the most effective product for your ailments and symptoms.

In general, the higher the potency of cannabinoids in your product, the more effective. Look for milligram counts of cannabinoids on your products to understand the potency. The higher the mg count of cannabinoids, the higher the efficacy of the product. This is true of topicals, tinctures, edibles, and even flower strains.

The mg count of cannabinoids works the same as other over-the-counter medicines; Tylenol, for example, comes in regular strength of 325mg of acetaminophen in each pill and extra strength of 500mg of acetaminophen in each pill. In the same way, a 5mg (THC or CBD) count of cannabinoids is a lighter dose than 30mg (THC or CBD) count of cannabinoids.

In fact, THC has been shown to have an analgesic (pain killer) effect comparable to codeine: an experiment from the 70s (Noyes et al.) shows that 20mg of THC beat 60mg of codeine and even 10mg of THC was almost as effective.
(the more value for your dollar, as well!).

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