Raw cannabinoids are the compounds that you find naturally occurring in untouched, unaltered cannabis, and hemp plants.
There are dozens if not over a hundred different cannabinoids that scientists have found within the cannabis plant. But many of them are only found in trace amounts, so the amount of research that we have been able to do on them is still minimal.
From what we can see so far, though, each of these raw cannabinoids carries their own set of therapeutic benefits. This shows us that consuming raw cannabis or hemp as food or medicine can be as beneficial as consuming it in other fashions.
So what is the difference between raw cannabinoids and their successors? How do raw cannabinoids transition into their new form? And what benefits are there to glean from raw cannabinoids?
The Skinny on Raw Cannabinoids
1) The Difference Between Raw Cannabinoids and Their Successors
The two most commonly known cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but these aren’t even found in raw cannabis and hemp in the form most people are used to.
So what are the raw cannabinoids then? These are a few of the most commonly found raw cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis plants:
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
- THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)
- CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
- THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
Raw cannabinoids are different from their successor cannabinoids because they have an additional molecule in their chemical makeup. This additional molecule makes them non-psychoactive, meaning you aren’t going to feel any kind of “high” effect.
This additional molecule makes it so the raw cannabinoid cannot interact with the body’s endocannabinoid sensors in the same fashion as its altered version does, which keeps the cannabinoid from causing and psychoactive effect. This additional molecule is where the “A” in many of these cannabinoids’ names comes from; so when you see CBDA, you can know that it is the predecessor of CBD. It’s the same with THCA–this is the predecessor of THC.
But how does the chemical composition of a raw cannabinoid change to evolve into the next version of itself?
2) Raw Cannabinoids and Decarboxylation
Heat and light are the two elements that alter the chemical composition of cannabinoids. That’s why someone gets high from smoking marijuana.
The process of subjecting cannabinoids to heat like this is called decarboxylation.
When cannabis or hemp is put through the process of decarboxylation, that extra molecule is eliminated from the cannabinoid’s chemical composition, allowing it to fit perfectly within the body’s endocannabinoid’s receptors. And now the effect that cannabinoid can have can be drastically different. If it has psychoactive properties, like THC, it can now have that effect on the body whereas it couldn’t before.
3) Benefits of Raw Cannabinoids
Raw cannabinoids have a variety of therapeutic benefits and some interesting and surprising properties as well. For example, did you know that raw cannabinoids have antibiotic or insecticidal properties? These are the qualities that are no doubt responsible for helping the cannabis plant naturally defend itself the way it does.
There are also many therapeutic benefits of raw cannabinoids.
CBDA is the main constituent in cannabis and hemp plants with elevated CBD levels. CBDA, when subjected to heat or light, converts to CBD, which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and even some anti-depressant properties that are believed to help provide relief for different mental ailments.
CBCA is the non-decarboxylated precursor to CBC. According to Leafly, “CBC is non-intoxicating, so it doesn’t produce a euphoric high like THC. The reason it is non-intoxicating is because it binds poorly to CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.” We believe that CBC’s benefits range from anti-inflammatory properties to anti-depressant properties and can have a potentially positive impact on conditions ranging from acne, pain and inflammation, depression, and even potentially cancer.
CBGVA is a foundational compound of the cannabis flower. In fact, you might think of CBGVA as the “granddaddy” of cannabinoids because it’s at the top of the cascade reaction that produces the three major cannabinoid lines: THCVA, CBDVA, and CBCVA. Like many other cannabinoids, CBGVA is non-psychoactive; it’s believed to contain anti-inflammatory properties that could aid in the relief of arthritis and other inflammation problems.
THCA is the main constituent in raw cannabis. THCA converts to THC when burned, vaporized, or heated at a certain temperature. THCA is known for its anti-inflammatory effects as well as its antiproliferative and antispasmodic effects. When converted to THC, it is also known for its psychoactive properties that cause the commonly known “high”.
Raw cannabinoids have many therapeutic benefits of their own, even before being decarboxylated.
So go ahead and add some raw hemp to your salad! It’s another great way to enjoy the many natural health benefits that cannabis and hemp have to offer without dealing with the psychoactive effects that come with smoking or vaping.
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