Cannabinoids are naturally occurring molecules that interact with the endocannibinoid system (ECS). Discovered in the early 1990’s, the ECS is a system of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that interacts with cannabinoid molecules. CB1 receptors are predominantly found in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system, organs and particularly in the immune system. By interacting with the cannabinoid receptor system, cannabinoids can result in changes in our physiology.
Cannabis plants have been shown in laboratory studies to produce 144 different cannabinoids. Combinations of cannabinoids are thought to lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘entourage effect’, whereas different combinations of phytocannabinoids lead to different physiological changes in combinations.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC (found in marijuana), CBD does not cause a ‘high’. According to Dr. Peter Greenspoon and published at health.harvard.edu:
“CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.”
The cannabis plant and other plants produce cannabinoids, which interact with our body's receptors. These plant cannabinoids are known as phyto-cannabinoids. Phyto is a prefix that means "pertaining to derived from plants". they are categorized as any plant-derived natural product with the capability to directly interact with the body's cannabinoid receptors or chare chemical similarity with cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the vertebrate central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system remains under preliminary research, but may be involved in regulating physiological, appetite, pain-sensation, and in mediating the pharmacological effects of cannabis.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is an active ingredient in marijuana and the most well-known entry on any cannabinoids list. This is because it’s the cannabinoid that makes people euphoric, hungry, and high.
When Dr. Mechoulam first discovered CBD, he was actually on the hunt for THC. This is because he was trying to discover the mechanism behind marijuana’s psychoactive effects. A year after isolating CBD, he finally isolated THC – making it possible to study this cannabinoid and the way it affects the body and brain.
Since then, THC has generated a firestorm of research and controversy. It’s been banned in many places for its psychoactive properties while also being approved (in its synthetic form) to be used for nausea and weight loss in cancer and AIDS patients.
Controversy aside, THC remains one of the most popular and well-known cannabinoids in marijuana.