By Sara Bechler

There are three different types of commonly-found cannabinoids: phytocannabinoids, which are found in plants (such as hemp); endocannabinoids, which are made and processed by the human body; and synthetic cannabinoids, which are created and used in pharmaceutical drugs. These fatty compounds react with and support the human endocannabinoid system, which is the system that supports all of the other systems in your body, making sure they’re all balanced and communicating efficiently. Cannabinoids respond to the cannabinoid receptors in your body — either the CB1 receptors located in your nervous system or the CB2 receptors attached to other systems throughout the human body. By interacting with these cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoids, both endo and phyto, regulate things like appetite, pain, memory, and mood.

The cannabinoids most people are familiar with are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol); both are found in hemp and marijuana. But our body also naturally produces its own cannabinoids, such as 2-AG and anandamide. It’s believed that there are over 100 cannabinoids found in hemp alone, but most of them are found in such low levels that they’re hard to detect and not widely researched.

However, there are seven cannabinoids commonly found in hemp. The most basic cannabinoid is CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). In fact, most cannabinoids are derived from CBGA. CBGA breaks down into CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) and THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). These acids are the “raw” form of the cannabinoids, and will not give you the “high” associated with THC. Each acid has its own important nutrients, and the best way to consume these cannabinoids is to eat the hemp plant raw.

From here, each of these cannabinoid acids can be broken down into other cannabinoids after they’re decarboxylated, or activated. This is done using heat or light which dries out the original cannabinoid. CBGA breaks down to CBG (cannabigerol), CBDA becomes CBD, and THCA becomes THC. CBG is found in low doses in all hemp plants and is believed to have a potentially psychoactive effect, but the specifics of its effect is still being studied. CBN (cannabinol) is the least common cannabinoid derived from THC. CBN is mostly found in aged cannabis and is created after the THC has been exposed to oxygen.

All of these cannabinoids are considered to potentially have anti-inflammatory effects, while CBGA is believed to help manage pain. CBD, CBG, THC, and CBN may help promote positive mental health symptoms, while CBN is believed to support normal sleep patterns. All cannabinoids are also thought to help maintain and protect bodily functions, encouraging communication between different systems. While these are the best-known cannabinoids, many of these (and others not as widely-known) are only found in low levels in cannabis, leaving their effects and other less-common cannabinoids widely understudied.

While hemp products were widely imported to the United States for years, hemp cultivation wasn’t legal in the United States until the 2014 Farm Bill was passed. As a result, there hasn’t been much research conducted in the US on the different cannabinoids found in hemp, and why only synthetic cannabinoids are FDA approved and used in prescriptions. The most common prescription synthetic cannabinoids are Marinol, Nabilone, and Rimonabant. Marinol and Nabilone are prescribed to combat nausea experienced by AIDS and cancer patients. Rimonabant, however, is used as an appetite suppressant; it was pulled from the US market in 2008 because of its potentially negative side effects.

Consuming phytocannabinoids is the best way to reap the potentially positive effects of the cannabinoids found in hemp. If you want to know the specific chemical makeup of your Head & Heal product, check out our lab results page and look up the batch number listed on your product.