What are Cannabinoids and What Do They Do?
Cannabinoids are a group of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. There are over a 100 identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While it is said that there are about 600 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant.
Two of the most well known cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but there's much more to the cannabinoid scene than that. You may have heard of CBG, CBN, CBC, CBDa or THCa–all of these play a role in promoting better health.
In the 1990s researchers wanted to understand how cannabinoids would affect the body and that's when they found that cannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact and are able to perform through the complex process of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The endocannabinoid system is a natural part of the body. Its receptors are found in the brain and thought out the body. Our body makes its own cannabinoid and when cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are introduced to the body it helps your ECS to be more effective.
Endocannabinoid system includes cannabinoids receptors and also CB1 and CB2 receptors. They are a complex system that helps with body functions. CB1 receptors handle most of the psychoactive effects from the cannabinoids while CB2 receptors are involved with managing pain, anti-inflammatory properties and the immunosuppressive agents.
The endocannabinoid system helps to maintain homeostasis. The body needs homeostasis to survive.
You may have also heard about this term "entourage effect.' Its ever present in a lot of articles or marketing materials about cannabis products.
Entourage effect is a theory that a combination of compounds from the cannabis like cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids would produce a greater effect than any of the compounds alone. For example, THC or CBD alone would not be as successful if compared to a product that included various cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
Let's get to know some of the cannabinoids and its effects
CBD or Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid therefore it will not cause intoxication. CBD helps to relief pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, stress, improve sleep and reduce seizures.
THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. THC can help with euphoria, increase appetite, improve sleep and help with pain.
CBN or Cannabinol which is a minor cannabinoid that takes place when THC breaks down. CBN is non-psychoactive and its effects include: sleep improvement, pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, anxiety relief and stimulate appetite.
THCa or Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw cannabis. THCa is the precursor of THC. When cannabis is heated it becomes decarboxylated and turns into THC. THCa is belief to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiemetic properties. THCa may have neuroprotective properties too.
CBC or Cannabichromene is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and among the 6 major cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG, CBN and THCV). CBC has antidepressants, anticonvulsant, neuroprotective and anticancer properties.
CBG or Cannabigerol is the precursor to cannabinoids such as THC or CBD. CBG is converted to cannabinoids when the cannabis plant matures. CBG has pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. Treat depression, anxiety, epilepsy and Alzheimer's.
THCV or Tetrahydrocannabivarin may be similar to THC, but they both have different chemical structures. THC has psychoactive properties while THCV is non-psychoactive. THCV can antagonize THC's effects. THCV has appetite suppression properties, can potentially treat obesity and diabetic. May also help treat with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.
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Written by Vivek Roachthavilit
Special thanks to:
National Library of Medicine