Key Differences Between CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBG, CBC, and CBDV

By now, you’ve heard of CBD, but there are approximately 150 different cannabinoids in the hemp plant. We go over the differences between some of the most popular cannabinoids: CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, CBDV, and CBDa.

Differences Between Cannabinoids

If you’re just starting to explore the wide array of hemp-derived products currently available in the market, you might not realize that there’s a lot more to the world of CBD than meets the eye. You’re likely familiar with CBD itself—the cannabis-derived compound that has exploded in popularity in recent years. Doctors and scientists have discovered that CBD can be used to help manage conditions including inflammation, nausea, epileptic seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and chronic pain—all without any psychoactive effects. But did you know that there are many more substances within the same family of chemical compounds (collectively known as cannabinoids), each with unique and beneficial properties?

Read on to learn more about the differences between six common and well-researched varieties of cannabinoids—CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBG, CBC, and CBDV—as well as the specific applications for each one.

First Things First, What Are Cannabinoids?

If you’re new to the world of CBD, you might be feeling confused by the list of acronyms above. So, let’s start with a simpler question: what is a cannabinoid? First discovered in Israel in the 1960s, cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds derived from the cannabis plant. These compounds are responsible for the many medicinal effects of cannabis, with each compound offering distinctive properties and benefits. To date, scientists have discovered more than 110 cannabinoids; more are likely to be found as we continue to explore the complex molecular structures of the cannabis plant.

Classes of Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are categorized into the following subclasses:

  • Cannabichromene (CBC)

  • Cannabigerol (CBG)

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

  • Cannabidiol (CBD)

  • Cannabinol (CBN)

  • Cannabinodiol (CBDL)

  • Other cannabinoids including cannabielsoin (CBE) and cannabitriol (CBT), cannabicyclol (CBL)

Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors on the surface area of cells. These receptors are located in different areas of the nervous system, with two main types receptors: CB1 and CB2.

The side effects that the cannabinoids will have depends on the area of the brain involved. The limbic system alters cognition, memory, and psychomotor performance; side effects on the limbic system affects the pleasure, reward, and pain response. 

General Differences Between Cannabinoids

The key difference between the cannabinoids depends on how psychoactive they are. For instance, CBC, CBD, and CBG are not psychologically active, whereas CBDL, CBN, THC, and other cannabinoids vary in their level of psychoactivity. 

The most notable cannabinoid is CBD, which has significant anti-anxiety effects that also counteract the mental side effects of THC. When THC is exposed to oxygen, it forms CBD — that interacts with the THC to soften the blow. We will get into more detail below regarding the specific characteristics and details of CBDA, CBN, CBG, CBC, and CBDV, so keep reading! 

How Does Your Body Use Cannabinoids?

Your body responds to every cannabinoid compound differently thanks to a remarkable built-in mechanism: the endocannabinoid system. This complex system is made up of receptors scattered throughout the body, which regulate health and homeostasis. The receptors have been identified in nearly every major organ system, from the brain and spinal cord to the gastrointestinal tract. CB1 receptors are associated most closely with the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are linked to the immune system. These receptors, along with enzymes that aid in the cleanup after many endocannabinoid system processes, help our bodies maintain a stable internal environment.

When activated by exposure to cannabinoids, the receptors of the endocannabinoid system become reactive. This means they’re able to affect key body processes including mood, memory, appetite, and pain. The specific effects of cannabis-derived products depend on the particular compound used and the location of the receptors that bind with that compound; we’ll look more closely at the receptor-cannabinoid interactions of various CBD compounds in the sections below.