Cannabicyclol, or CBL, is a non-psychoactive, minor cannabinoid found in cannabis. Research on this compound is limited and very little is known about the extent of its therapeutic potential. Based on what we know about other cannabis compounds, it’s safe to assume that CBL can be used in the treatment of many different medical conditions, but which ones would benefit most from it remain to be addressed.
What Exactly Is CBL?
As of late, researchers have identified and isolated 113 cannabinoids, including CBL, from the cannabis plant, and they estimate there are dozens more waiting to be discovered. The fact that we have solid scientific research on only a handful of these compounds speaks volumes to how limiting and asinine prohibition has been. Imagine how much we would know if cannabis wasn’t shunned in the medical community and banned for all these years.
CBL is just one of those compounds. We know it exists, we know it comes from cannabis, and we know its molecular structure is different from other cannabinoids. Beyond that, we don’t have very much to go on. CBL is a minor cannabinoid with no double bond in its chemical structure, so it doesn’t have any intoxicating effects.
Because CBL structurally comparable to other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, researchers believe it may function similarly in the human body. It is very likely that CBL interacts with our Endocannabinoid Systems the same way as CBD, CBN, CBG, and other cannabinoids lacking that double bond their carbon chains.
Also, as a minor cannabinoid, CBL could have just as much pharmaceutical potential when working synergistically with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This phenomenon is known as the Entourage Effect and explains the reason many people prefer the effects of natural cannabis flower and whole-spectrum extracts as opposed to isolates and distillates. Cannabis is such a controversial substance that we often forget it is simply a plant, and it functions like many other plants that we consume regularly. In botanical therapies, the compounds are more effective working together than individually.
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What Are The Benefits of CBL?
In general, cannabinoids can be beneficial for an incredibly diverse range of medical conditions including mental disorders, autoimmune disease, inflammation, epilepsy, pain, and digestive issues, just to name a few. When looking specifically at the benefits of CBL, we don’t have enough research to make any conclusive statements and it’ll likely be a few more years before we have any studies to reference.
Aside from the specific molecular structure of CBL, we also know that it is a very stable cannabinoid. In 2008, a study was published in which researchers examined 2700-year-old cannabis samples found in the tomb of an ancient Chinese shaman. The arid climate, grave depth, and soil alkalinity did wonders for preserve the contents of the tomb, include the cannabis flower.
Although it was lacking aroma or flavor, the samples were still green in color. As expected, THC, CBD, and other major cannabinoids had degraded, however, the ancient cannabis samples were high in CBL and CBD; both of which are products of cannabinoid breakdown.
This has a few different implications. First, it’s relevant when discussing proper storage of cannabis. If you have flower that has either been around too long or been stored improperly, you can expect it to have higher levels of CBN and CBL. Because these cannabinoids are often found together, they likely work in tandem. Also, the fact these cannabinoids are the end of the line makes them very stable, and stability is paramount when it comes to manufacturing pharmaceuticals.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
The only reason cannabinoids even work and have an effect on so many different living organisms is because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a system that was only recently discovered in 1992. Simply put, the ECS is a network of neurotransmitters and receptors that exists in the bodies of all animals. Cannabinoid 1 and Cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues.
As a whole, the ECS regulates numerous different functions and processes in our bodies and maintains internal balance and homeostasis. The ECS modulates the nervous and immune systems and other organ systems to relieve pain and inflammation, regulate metabolism and neurologic function, promote healthy digestive processes, and support reproductive function and embryologic development.
Researchers have discovered two different endocannabinoids so far, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA). 2-AG is made from omega-6 fatty acids and is present in fairly high levels in the central nervous system, but it has also been detected in human (and bovine) milk. 2-AG is a full agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but it has a stronger influence over the CB2 receptor. Because of this, 2-AG is thought to have a substantial impact on the immune system. Anandamide (AEA), also commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule”, is known to play a major role in the in all our basic daily physiological functions including sleep/wake cycles, appetite, mood, and even fertility.
In addition to the naturally produced cannabinoids, there is also a large web of receptors that allow AEA and 2-AG to function the way they do. Again, the two receptors that have been studied most extensively are CB1 and CB2. These cannabinoid receptors sit on the surface of cells and monitor conditions on the outside. Once they sense changing conditions and the body falling out of a state of homeostasis, they signal the appropriate cellular response to restore balance.
What Does The Future Hold?
Considering this is one of the least discussed cannabinoids, it’s understandable that demand is low and not many companies are prioritizing CBL products. At the moment, it’s only available as a scientific research material through a handful of companies, like Cayman Chemical and Cerilliant. Eventually, that will change and just like CBN, CBC, CBG and another minor cannabinoids, more and more products will make their way to the retail sector and into the hands of consumers.
With legalization sweeping the world, a growing fascination for the medical benefits of cannabis, and vastly improved extraction and production techniques, even the most minor compounds like CBL will find a suitable market. There is such a need for non-psychoactive medicinal cannabinoids that it will be impossible and immoral to ignore the treasure trove that is found in this plant.
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