What are cannabinoids?
There are nearly 500 natural compounds in marijuana and over 100 of those chemical compounds (thanks to a recent discovery) are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are responsible for the effects of cannabis on the body, like the reason you get high. Cannabinoids are unique chemicals found in the Cannabis plant and work with the human body, more specifically the endocannabinoid system.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system in humans produces its own chemicals for things like fighting off diseases in multiple organs and systems found in the body. So, cannabinoid receptors imitate what endocannabinoids do by attaching to the same receptors in the brain and both immune and nervous systems.
The cannabinoids found in marijuana are separated into subclasses, some of those being:
- Cannabigerols (CBG)
- Cannabichromenes (CBC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
How do cannabinoids affect cannabis users?
They can have an effect on the user by interacting with specific receptors that are located in different parts of the central nervous system.
When you smoke and/or vape marijuana, Cannabinoids enter your lungs, then are quickly transferred to your heart before being directed to your brain. Once in the brain, the CBD’s seek out specific receptors and latch onto them. The entire process only takes about 2 to 3 minutes
So far, two cannabinoid receptors have been found: CB1 and CB2. However, there could be more types of receptors out there that have yet to be discovered.
CB1 receptors are located within the nervous system, brain, and nerve endings while CB2 receptors are within the immune system.
Different cannabinoid receptors have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. So, knowing what cannabinoid binds with what receptor can help you achieve different types of relief.
What do cannabinoids do?
There are numerous subclasses of cannabinoids, each one having a different effect. Two of the most well-known are THC and CBD.
THC has psychoactive properties and is known for giving you that high feeling; a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. However, THC also provides users with a significant amount of medicinal benefits including relieving pain, improving appetite and helping with depression and anxiety. THC has also been linked to providing positive effects to specific illnesses like cancer and Crohn’s disease.
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and calms the high that THC gives off. CBD is also believed to have medicinal benefits like anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to protect your neurons from injury.
Different strains of cannabis have different percentages of both CBD and THC, which is important to know, especially if you’re smoking for a specific reason like joint pain.
Why is it important to know about cannabinoids?
Different cannabinoids can help treat different symptoms. Continued research in the cannabis community has led to major, medical findings. For example, a combination of THC and CBD can help with nausea, ADHD, and anxiety, CBG, and THC help with glaucoma and CBD oil helps autistic children. Understanding cannabinoids can help you educate yourself and others on why and how cannabis is safe and effective at tackling specific conditions.