What Exactly are Cannabinoids?

You may heard about them on the news or briefly read about them in a cannabis blog. But what are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are compounds that are found in the plant of the Cannabis Sativa that also occur naturally in the human body. About 100 of the total number which is more than 480 can be referred to as phytocannabinoids because they are derived from the plant option. Endocannabinoids refers to the class of cannabinoids whose source is the human body. When cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), various actions of a physiological nature have been seen to get triggered.

Studies on Cannabis have in many instances brought to the attention of the public a compound known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for its psychoactive tendencies. An equally important compound is cannabidiol (CBD) whose medicinal value has been highlighted alongside cancer research as the most convincing remedy for chemotherapy side effects. Other phytocannabinoids worth mentioning are Cannabigerols (CBG), Cannabichromenes (CBC), Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabinodiol (CBL). 

Cannabidiol (CBD) does not exhibit phychoactive tendencies in its users and therefore easy to single out as a medical component. Another cannabinoid that has over time gained traction as medicine is Cannabinol (CBN) which is used a sedative but can also be used to achieve anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-convulsive functions. Endocannabinoids such as 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide play a crucial role in controlling metabolism, regulating food intake, synaptic plasticity, and development of the central nervous system, memory and sensory perception. For more information on CBD, visit Healthworx CBD.

Cannabinoid Receptors

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Everybody agrees that cannabinoids have behavioral and physiological effects but before the 1980s, it was assumed that the action of cannabinoids was nonspecific and directed at the cell membrane. The first cannabinoids receptor was identified in the 1980s and it opened doors to the idea that cannabinoids interacted with receptors bound on the cell membrane to produce their effects. These receptors that are present in fish, birds, reptiles and mammals can either be CB1 or CB2. Although there are many cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, they are mostly found embedded in cell membranes of organs in the immune and central nervous systems. Phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids both act by either direct influence or binding to the receptors. 

How Cannabinoids React in the Body

It is from the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) physiological processes such as pain, mood, memory and appetite are controlled. Cannabinoids provide a bridge for communication to flow between the various systems and cells in the body. When the ECS receptors are activated, various natural, pharmacological and chemical triggers affect the overall well-being of an individual. Phytocannabinoids are able to imitate the action of endocannabinoids which the body produces naturally. Check the infographic below for more information.

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