Some rare cannabinoids improve sleep. Others help manage anxiety, promote weight loss or mitigate inflammation. Together, the more than 120 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant share at least one thing: They are poised to transform healthcare.
Most people have heard of the two most well-known cannabinoids: Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) and Cannabidiol (aka, CBD). The cannabinoid THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, and is illegal under federal law, but legal or decriminalized in 38 states. Meanwhile, the cannabinoid CBD, which is not psychoactive, is legal in all 50 states, although jurisdictions treat its manufacture and sale differently.
The rest of the cannabinoids remain relatively uncommon — but that is changing fast. As scientists and companies explore the hemp plant and its cannabinoids, they are finding sometimes remarkable therapeutic applications for individual cannabinoids, as well as for custom formulations of different cannabinoids. According to Statista, the cannabinoid market is expected to expand from $2 billion in 2020 to $50 billion in 2029. Some of that explosive growth will revolve around rare cannabinoids.
How Do Cannabinoids Work?
The human body’s endocannabinoid system, discovered in 1988, helps regulate functions such as sleep, appetite, mood, memory, and fertility. Three components — endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes — comprise the system.
When healthy, the human body produces its own endocannabinoids, which help keep the body in a healthy state of equilibrium, or homeostasis. Phyto-cannabinoids, which are found in the hemp plant, perform the same functions as endocannabinoids. Both phyto-endocannabinoids and cannabinoids link to the system’s receptors and direct the ECS to take different actions to maintain homeostasis. Once the endocannabinoids and phyto-cannabinoids have performed their roles, enzymes break them down so the body can recycle them.
What Are Rare Cannabinoids?
The hemp plant yields some cannabinoids, such as CBD, in abundance. The CBD market exploded after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp nationwide in part because of the cannabinoids in hemp, CBD is especially plentiful and easy to harvest.
Most of the other cannabinoids, however, are found in just trace amounts. But as researchers grow increasingly savvy about extracting rare cannabinoids from the hemp plant, more and more of them are appearing in the marketplace. For example, one “ECS Brands’” product, Trim™, featuring its patent-pending Nitro-V™ Extract, contains six rare cannabinoids, as well as CBD. In fact, ECS Brands’ entire line of Enlighten Hemp supplements relies on rare cannabinoids for their therapeutic power.
Rare Cannabinoids Found in Trim™ Nitro-V™
ECS Brands’ Trim Nitro-V supplements aim to naturally control appetite and craft a healthy, well-balanced metabolism. To achieve this goal, ECS Brands harvests full-spectrum extracts of an organic hemp strain that is especially high in several key rare cannabinoids, including THCV and CBDV. The extracts also contain smaller amounts of the rare cannabinoids CBG, CBDA, CBGA, and CBN.
Importantly, full-spectrum extracts exploit the “entourage effect,” or the dynamic way these cannabinoids collaborate with one another in the ECS. Products relying on individual cannabinoid isolates, like a tincture containing just one cannabinoid, are not able to take advantage of the entourage effect resulting in reduced potency and reliability.
It gets called the “skinny cannabinoid” for good reason. THC — the cannabinoid that gets people high — famously stimulates appetite and gives people the munchies. But instead of sparking the munchies, THCV suppresses appetite. What a difference a “v” makes.
The reason is straightforward: THC turns on the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptor, which releases hunger hormones. But THCV turns off the CB1 receptor and hunger fades. In addition to affecting appetite, some research shows that THCV can enhance glucose tolerance and stabilize blood sugar levels by helping to regulate insulin levels.
This rare cannabinoid is nearly identical to the common cannabinoid CBD. The only difference between them, structurally, relates to a divergence between the number of carbon atoms found in a key part of the molecules: CBD has five carbons, and CBDV has three. That two-carbon-atoms difference matters quite a bit.
One of CBDV’s strengths, according to some studies, is its ability to potentially relieve nausea. It may also be promising for treating people with epilepsy, other related seizures, neuropathic pain and various neurological disorders. In addition, CBDV may — just like its cousin CBD — help the body heal by mitigating inflammation.
This cannabinoid serves as a building block for major cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Given its foundational importance, CBG offers a variety of potential wellness benefits. It reduces inflammation and oxidative stress and people who suffer from arthritis have reported success with CBG. It’s also used as a relaxant. Since CBG is involved with the body’s production of noradrenaline, it reportedly helps reduce anxiety. Indeed, cannabis strains that are naturally robust in CBG are touted for their ability to surmount the paranoia (and anxiety) that sometimes comes with THC ingestion. Finally, CBG might also help to suppress appetite.
CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
This cannabinoid is also known as “raw” CBD, as it is the precursor to CBD. Prior to being exposed to heat or UV light, a process called decarboxylation, the cannabinoid CBD exists in the form of CBDA, which is an acidic cannabinoid; heat or light eliminates the acid and turns CBDA into CBD. This raw form of CBD has antidepressant effects, mitigates nausea, and may help people enjoy better sleep.
CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
Just like CBG, the cannabinoid CBGA is considered one of the building blocks of other cannabinoids and is an acidic cannabinoid. It is even referred to as the “granddaddy” or “mother” of all cannabinoids because it stands at the top of a series of chemical reactions that yield cannabinoids like CBD and THC.
As with other cannabinoids, CBGA is believed to help reduce nausea and have antidepressant-like effects. It’s also used to treat sleep problems and epilepsy and has been implicated in treatments for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The Future of Wellness Infused with Rare Cannabinoids
Hemp’s decades-long status as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law dramatically limited the amount of research scientists were able to conduct into the plant’s wealth of unique plant compounds.
Now that hemp is legal, however, its status as a mystery plant is changing rapidly. Scientists today routinely publish the results of studies that hold enormous promise for the places where wellness and cannabinoids intersect. As we head into 2022, we expect to see great strides in research on rare cannabinoids that will truly revolutionize our health and wellness.