Introducing the Minor Cannabinoid Spectrum: Tiny Contributors with a Big Impact

by | Aug 16, 2019

Written by Kristina Etter

Kristina is a digital content creator and designer. She has a talent for creating engaging and informative content that resonates with our professional audience. Kristina’s passion for the cannabis industry stems from her belief that it has the potential to revolutionize the world in many ways, and has a personal testimony of cannabis success.

While CBD dominates discussions in health and wellness, a growing body of research unveils the vast potential of lesser-known cannabinoids in the minor cannabinoid spectrum. Whole-plant extracts are lauded for their overall efficacy, yet as extraction technologies advance, cannabis producers keenly tap into the minor cannabinoid spectrum, and consumers in sophisticated markets increasingly seek out these compounds.

Although CBD appears to be the next great thing for the hemp and cannabis markets, other markets continue to emerge as researchers uncover the seemingly unlimited potential of the various compounds in the plant. While whole-plant extracts are generally thought of as superior, isolation of particular cannabinoids and terpenes may allow for specific formulations for different health and wellness products, as well as, specialized medications designed for difficult-to-treat ailments and diseases. 

As extraction technologies continue to get more sophisticated, several cannabis producers are taking advantage of the minor cannabinoid spectrum. Likewise, in more advanced markets, savvy cannabis consumers are beginning to seek out minor cannabinoids as well.

minor cannabinoid spectrum

What is the Minor Cannabinoid Spectrum?

As you probably know, THC and CBD garner the majority of the headlines and press time as they are the most abundant and most well-known of the active compounds found in cannabis. However, there are hundreds of cannabinoids we’ve only just begun to understand.

By understanding each of the cannabinoids individually, researchers may unlock hidden secrets deep within the plant’s leaves. Let’s examine some of the more popular cannabinoids gaining momentum in the cannabis and hemp industries.

Cannabigerol (CBGa)

Cannabigerol, or CBGa, is often called the “Mother Cannabinoid” as it is responsible for the creation of both THC and CBD. Because of its biosynthesis abilities, researchers are attempting to harness that power in the lab.

A recent study published in Nature shows how students at UC Berkeley were able to produce cannabinoids in a lab environment using yeast. However, CBGa also played a significant role in that process. Current research suggests CBGa may be beneficial to consumers in treating disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases.

Precision Plant Molecules recently announced their CBG product innovations. By harvesting hemp early, they can extract higher levels of the precursory cannabinoid than a later harvest.

Cannabinol (CBN)

If CBG is at the forefront of the spectrum, the CBN, or cannabinol, would be on the opposite end. Created through the natural degradation of THC, cannabinol has minimal psychoactive effects but is thought to be powerfully sedative. 

The National Cancer Institute also defines cannabinol as a cannabinoid with potential immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory activity. CBN is also said to trigger apoptosis in individual cells, as well as, inhibit the production of cytokines. 

Research published earlier this year by Kanabo Research out of Tel Aviv, Israel shows a formulation of cannabinoids including CBN, which increases sleep duration by as much as 150 percent. 

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv)

Last month, Flow Kana, a cannabis cultivation giant located in California, announced a new cannabis cultivar specifically bred to be rich in THCv. What is driving the demand for this unique cannabinoid? The consumer. 

While most evidence at this point is anecdotal, many consumers claim the benefits of this cannabinoid include appetite suppression, anti-anxiety, and overall relaxation. An article from the Mercury News quoted one researcher, Dr. Michael Moskowitz, who stated jokingly about his research, 

“The only thing that THCV does is it’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory, it’s neuroprotective, which means it protects the nervous system,” Moskowitz said. “It’s anti-nausea and vomiting. It helps with bone health and bone formation, it’s sleep-promoting, it’s anti-epileptic, it’s anti-anxiety. It’s a major anti-psychotic. And it helps with appetite suppression, it’s anti-diabetic, and it’s anti-cholesterol. Other than that it didn’t do that much.” 

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC has also been garnering a lot of attention lately, as one of many cannabinoids that have been shown to help fight off superbugs such as MRSA. Additionally, according to Cresco Labs, CBC may play a role in the anti-cancer, and anti-tumor potential of cannabis. 

CBC, like other cannabinoids, is thought to be a potent anti-inflammatory that could help in treating a variety of ailments. 

The Potential of the Minor Cannabinoid Spectrum

When we examine all of the potential held within these five tiny molecules and then remember that this is just the start, it’s staggering to think of the promise that can come from one plant. Cannabis contains hundreds of active compounds such as these and many others. If the research finds even a fraction of these benefits to be accurate, we can undoubtedly expect significant medical breakthroughs in the years to come.

This intricate interplay showcases the potential of the minor cannabinoid spectrum, hinting at breakthroughs in treating conditions ranging from sleep disorders to inflammation and cancer. The molecular complexity of these cannabinoids underscores the prospect of unlocking more therapeutic secrets from the cannabis plant becomes an exciting journey into uncharted territory, promising significant medical advancements on the horizon.

The minor cannabinoid spectrum serves as a testament to the boundless potential contained within a single plant, opening a gateway to transformative medical breakthroughs in the years ahead.