Cannabis is a multifaceted wonder plant with the potential to drastically alter the course of history. That is a bold claim, but cannabis science is constantly uncovering fascinating new facts about the plant’s therapeutic and medicinal value. Cannabis contains hundreds of compounds, which contribute to its wide range of cultivars. The ever-present cannabinoids, however, may be the shining star ingredient.
These compounds work seamlessly within the human body to help maintain homeostasis, heal and treat, and provide assistance in a variety of wellness areas. Continue reading to learn more about the nature of cannabinoids and how our bodies are designed to work in tandem with them.
What Exactly Are Cannabinoids?
Have you ever wondered why smoking marijuana makes you high? What exactly is it about marijuana that gives you that stoned feeling? It is due to cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. These naturally occurring chemicals interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate a variety of vital bodily functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, temperature, digestion, and many others. The ECS is a fantastic network that assists the body in maintaining homeostasis, and all animals have one.
The human body produces its own endocannabinoids, but it also interacts with cannabis phytocannabinoids. The term “phyto” means “of or pertaining to plants,” but for the purposes of this discussion, we will simply refer to cannabis compounds as cannabinoids. The cannabis plant is packed with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, and fibre. Flavonoids, terpenes, and over 100 cannabinoids are also present. So far, science has only discovered this.
Each cannabinoid has unique properties, ranging from its molecular structure to how it affects our body and mind.
Cannabinoids interact with one of two receptors in the vast network of the ECS after being consumed and processed within the body.
CB1 and CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors
While scientists are still researching the ECS’s many functions, they do know that it is made up of three major components: endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors. While there may be more receptors yet to be discovered, we do know quite a bit about two of them. CB1 receptors are found throughout the central nervous system and aid in the regulation of the brain and spinal cord. The CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system, which is a network of nerves that extends from the spinal cord. These receptors are more focused on immune cells, hormones, muscles, and the digestive system.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana (THC). THC has a high affinity for binding to CB1 receptors, which helps to moderate THC’s psychoactive properties. Because THC interacts with the receptors associated with the central nervous system, it can alter mood, consciousness, motor control, memory, and behaviour.
Individual cannabinoids do not have their own receptors. Cannabinoids, on the other hand, bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and act as agonists or antagonists. Agonists act by mimicking the body’s natural endocannabinoids to activate receptors and stimulate a response, whereas antagonists act by blocking cannabinoid receptors and decreasing their activity levels. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with little affinity for the CB1 or CB2 receptors, but it does antagonise the presence of THC. In fact, when combined with THC, CBD is known to reduce its psychoactive effects.
What Is the Number of Cannabinoids?
144 of the 545 compounds discovered in cannabis have been identified as phytocannabinoids. Cannabinoids have been divided into sub-categories based on their molecular structure.
Most people are familiar with THC and CBD as the two most common cannabinoids. They are undoubtedly the most abundant in marijuana and hemp, but research over the last decade has revealed a great deal about other minor cannabinoids and their roles in the ECS. As a result, cannabis cultivators have developed strains high in these other cannabinoids in order to increase the therapeutic value of this incredible plant.
When we consume cannabis in its entirety, without isolating and segregating the cannabinoids from other natural plant materials, a phenomenon occurs. The entourage effect is the result of consuming all of these valuable compounds at the same time. Essentially, the cannabis compounds interact better with one another, resulting in a full range of effects. The entourage effect unleashes the plant’s full potential, engaging the ECS to its fullest extent.
Cannabinoids found in cannabis
Cannabinoids That Are Most Common
THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
THC is the most noticeable cannabinoid in cannabis. Its acronym is synonymous with getting stoned, and it has left an indelible mark on popular culture for decades. While delta-9 THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, other THC analogues include delta-8 THC, THCA, THCP, and THCV.
THC is well-known for its ability to relieve pain and aid in the treatment of other physical conditions such as insomnia, nausea, anxiety, depression, glaucoma, cancer, muscle spasms, and others. While THC’s medicinal value is undeniable, it also has a plethora of fun, recreational benefits such as happiness, euphoria, creating thinking, bliss, and enhanced sexual desire.
THC is a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. THC and THC-containing products, on the other hand, are legal in states that have an approved and regulated medical marijuana or recreational adult-use cannabis programme. Currently, over 80% of the United States has some form of legal, medical, or decriminalised legislation in place.
THC is now found in almost everything that can be consumed. Raw flower or joints, edibles, topicals, beverages, capsules, tinctures, and extracts are the most common. THC-infused sublingual strips, transdermal patches, chewing gum, cooking oil, hot sauce, toothpaste, personal lubricant, and suppositories are available in some high-end dispensaries.
Cannabidiol is an abbreviation for Cannabidiol (CBD)
CBD is the second most popular cannabinoid. CBD has grown in popularity over the last decade, but it really took off with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This significant piece of legislation legalised the cultivation of industrial hemp throughout the United States, opening the market to hemp products grown and manufactured in the United States, such as textiles, paper, food, and medicine. Hemp has the potential to be one of the world’s most useful agricultural crops.
CBD has a variety of therapeutic effects, ranging from promoting deeper sleep to reducing inflammation. It is also a natural remedy for reducing anxiety and relieving depression symptoms. CBD is non-psychoactive and will not get you high, though a high-quality product should have noticeable effects. This can include pain relief and mood changes.
Legality: CBD products are legal to use and sell throughout the United States. To maintain regulatory compliance, all hemp-derived CBD products must contain less than 0.3 percent THC per total volume. Any CBD product derived from marijuana must follow the rules governing THC products in the state where it was manufactured. Furthermore, some states have restrictions on the type of CBD that can be sold. Some states, for example, may prohibit CBD-infused gummies or require FDA approval first.
CBD-rich hemp products are most commonly found in body care products, supplements, and edibles. Many companies sell and market hemp joints to people who want to smoke without getting high. CBD tinctures are widely marketed to a wide range of consumers, including children and pets. CBD can now be found in deodorant, skin care products, soaking salts, recovery drinks, and vape cartridges.
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBD) (CBDA)
CBDA is primarily found in live cannabis plants. The CBDA in the plant is converted to CBD as it dries, cures, and is processed after harvesting. The CBDA is almost completely transformed during this process, leaving little behind. However, trace amounts can still be found in raw oil and extracts.
CBDA, like CBD, has no psychoactive properties and will not get you high. Some people prefer raw CBD, while others prefer CBDA due to its higher affinity rate. It has up to 1000 times the potency of CBD. Improved alertness, relief from anxiety, stress, insomnia, and pain are common side effects.
CBDA is legal in the same way that CBD is. It is legal in states where CBD is legal as long as it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
Although CBD products are more widely available, CBDA products can be found in the form of oils, tinctures, soft gels, topicals, and vape cartridges.
CBN is formed when THC is exposed to light and heat. THC molecules are oxidised by environmental factors and slowly degrade into CBN. If you have any old weed lying around the house, it probably has a lot more CBN than it did when you first got it. Fortunately, this means that producing CBN is simple, which is useful because the market does not currently offer many CBN-rich products.
CBN has little effect on its own. It must be consumed in conjunction with THC to be felt. This is a great example of the entourage effect in action because CBN accounts for approximately 10% of the high associated with THC.
Legality: If CBN is converted to THC through oxidative stress, it has the same legal status as THC. However, if the CBN is derived from a hemp plant, it is subject to the same legal restrictions as CBD. Currently, the majority of CBN comes from marijuana, which is legal only in states that have a recreational or adult-use marijuana programme.
Pure or highly concentrated products are the most common.