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What is a Cannabinoid?

A cannabinoid refers to every chemical substance which acts on cannabinoid receptors in a person’s body. These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the cells which change neurotransmitters in the brain.

The effects cannabinoids have on the body are similar to those produced by the cannabis sativa plant. Consumers use three (3) types of cannabinoids. They can either be recreational, medicinal or synthetic. 

Recreational cannabinoids are either cannabis or hemp. Cannabis are dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant that are smoked in a joint or bong. Hemp, on the other hand, is the fiber of the cannabis plant that can make rope and strong fabrics.

Types of Cannabinoids

There are two (2) main cannabinoids: CBD and THC.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

This is the second most recognized cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. It is not a psychoactive compound so it does not cause a “high” effect when it is ingested. It is one of the compounds the marijuana glands secrete. 

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High CBD products aid in balancing out the negative effects from THC. It is a natural anti-inflammatory substance and it is useful for the promotion of homoeostasis in the human body. It can fight conditions like joint pain, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, ADHD, and epilepsy.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

This chemical is responsible for most of the psychological and psychoactive effects from the marijuana ingestion. THC stimulates the cells present in the brain to release dopamine. This secreted substance creates euphoria and interferes with the processed information in the hippocampus. It can induce hallucinations, cause delusions and change the way that people think.

The most commonly known of the two cannabinoids is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. 

THC cannabinoids have strong psychoactive effects while CBD cannabinoids have an anti-psychoactive effect. 

Full spectrum CBD products can reduce the negative effects caused by THC.

Lesser known types of cannabinoids

Cannabichromene (CBC): Experts overlooked CBC cannabinoids but it plays a very important role in the effects of marijuana on the body. It does not bind to the CB1 receptors in the brain, failing to produce a psychological effect on the body. 

The effects of CBC can improve overall health. Research has shown that CBC has antibacterial, antidepressant, and antifungal properties. It also serves as a painkiller to minimize pain and inflammation. 

Scientists are hopeful for its potential in treating acne. It interacts with anandamide by inhibiting its uptake which allows it to stay in the bloodstream longer. Experts are hoping for CBC to fight and prevent breast cancer because of its chemo-preventive agents.

Cannabigerol (CBG): This non-intoxicating compound is similar to CBD. Cannabigerol is an essential compound in THC and CBD. It is a precursor to three (3) of the most important cannabinoid strains which are: 

The enzymes present in this plant will break down the CBG cannabinoid and convert it to its final compound. CBG cannabinoid may provide help with glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), bladder problems, potential cancer treatment, and Huntington’s ailment. Cannabis products can also help disorders in the central nervous system. 

Cannabinol (CBN): This is a minor cannabinoid which has the ability to help with aches and food stimulation. It is also a sedative. Consumers report feeling comfort when using CBN-infused products.

In large amounts, it can combat insomnia.

How do Cannabinoids Work?

The ECS is a system in the human body which consists of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid receptors and the cannabinoids work as a lock-and-key system

The cannabinoids bind to the receptors like a key that fits into a lock. Unlocking the receptors causes different changes in cell functions which can have different effects in the body.

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When marijuana enters the human body, the THC activates the ECS by attaching itself to the cannabinoid receptors. There are two (2) different types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. Anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol are responsible for activating these receptors. While anandamide stimulates the CB1 receptors, 2-AG stimulates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

The CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and they are responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana use. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are mostly in other parts of the body. These receptors are responsible for a wide range of biological functions.

The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to the CB1 receptors. This is how THC produces the therapeutic effects that it gives off. The psychoactive effects of THC are also obtained this way.

On one hand, cannabidiol (CBD) does not directly bind with the CB1 receptors. Instead, they bind to the CB2 receptors and this also produces therapeutic effects. 

They also have the ability to influence the various ion channels which control the release of certain chemicals such as potassium, calcium, and sodium in the body.

The ECS plays a part in the regulation of appetite, mood, memory, pain, sleep, and so much more. The CB1 receptors control several psychological functions such as sleeping, appetite, perception of pain, memory, vomiting, and mood. On the other hand, the CB2 receptors control inflammation since it is mainly in the immune system of the body.

When was Cannabinoid First Identified?

Medical marijuana has been cultivated for its many properties for thousands of years. The earliest recorded medicinal use dates back as far back as 1400-2000 BC. In the 19th century, Williams Osler became the “Father of Modern Medicine.” His proposal of cannabis for medicinal purposes was due to the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties. 

The CBD cannabinoid was first discovered by Dr. Roger Adams and his team at the University of Illinois in 1940. However, its structure wasn’t fully clear until 1963. The THC cannabinoid was also discovered more than 20 years after the CBD cannabinoid. Pharmacological experiments with single cannabinoids had been done in the 1940s and 1950s

Many of them were carried out with either preparations of THC or CBD which were extracted from cannabis.

Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

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