Who thinks–or thought until I asked the question–that cannabis grows THC and CBD? Join the club…a lot of us familiar with the substance but unfamiliar with the science think, or thought, that. It’s the logical assumption to make. But it’s not accurate, and it matters when the topic is medical cannabis. Cannabinoid-acids. That’s the topic for scientific accuracy today.
It matters because medical cannabis is about the science–the ratios, if you will–of all the components in the plant and how to mix them for the most efficacious results. So, let’s talk a little science, shall we? The cannabis plant grows cannabinoid acids. Cannabinoid acids are biochemically different than cannabinoids because of the acid attached to each molecule. This acid stops the cannabinoid from fitting into the endocannabinoid system receptor sites. This doesn’t mean that cannabinoid acids are lacking in therapeutic value. Quite the opposite. THC-A is proven to be twice as effective as an anti-inflammatory as corticosteroids are, and CBD-A, combined with CBD, is more effective for more types of epilepsy than CBD by itself. These are just two well established actions; the research into cannabinoid acids continues to show promising results in additional areas like the treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions and more.
Cannabinoid-acids, however, stimulate no type of euphoria…as one of their progeny, THC, does.
So, what turns a cannabinoid-acid into a neutral, or activated, cannabinoid (and by activated I mean: engages the endocannabinoid system receptor sites) and does evoke a euphoria in the form of THC? Heat, light, and/or time. It’s simple chemistry. The bond holding the acid onto the cannabinoid molecule is sensitive to heat and light and time. All three of these elements, in combination or singularly, will cause a degeneration of the bond that results in the acid falling off the molecule and leaving an activated cannabinoid. Smoking, vaping, baking, leaving the cannabis out in the sun too long or just letting time have it’s way… all of these actions will either quickly, or eventually, turn cannabinoid acids into activated cannabinoids. For a general overview of cannabinoids and their actions, go here.
The scientific action for removing the acid bond is called decarboxylation. Current research shows promising results for medical cannabis tinctures that combine a blend of cannabinoid-acids and decarboxylated (aka neutral or activated) cannabinoids. The synergy has an almost magical effect–magical only because science hasn’t defined it yet ; >)
Cannabinoid-acids are particularly valuable for people with leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune conditions as well as conditions where inflammation is a key trigger like Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease. In salads, juiced, or gently (so as not to break the bonds) melted into your favorite tincture.
If you, like me, thought cannabinoids were “born” in the cannabis plant active and ready to go… then be amazed by Nature. She’s always there to teach us as soon as we know the right question to ask. Do you have a question? Put it in the comments below… I’m not Mother Nature, but I’ll do my best.