If you know anything about marijuana plants, then you are probably already familiar with the term “cannabinoids.” You may even think about the common cannabinoid, THC, and perhaps your thoughts even jump to CBD. However, what about the lesser known cannabinoids? Are they important too? Better yet, how do they all fit together within the cannabinoid system?
Simply put, cannabinoids are the compounds found in marijuana plants that lead to the effects on the human body we are already familiar with. These effects are both mental and physical, depending on the strain of marijuana being consumed. There are more than 85 cannabinoids that have been identified, with research accelerated alongside loosening legal regulations.
Cannabinoids are concentrated to various degrees within different parts of the marijuana plant. Cannabinoids are being researched more and more as medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana becomes more widely accepted.
Surprisingly for some, the cannabinoid system is not located within marijuana plants, it is found in our own bodies. It is relatively new to the radar of researchers, but we now know that it is a major system within the body that comprises of neuro-chemicals. This is precisely the reason certain cannabinoids interact with our bodies so strongly - our bodies are designed to receive and react with these compounds.
The cannabinoid system is made up of many connected receptors that receive the “message” from cannabinoids and therefore jumpstart the benefits that come with the consumption of marijuana. CB1 receptors are bound to the membrane of the body, mostly located in the brain, and CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune system of the body. THC interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Cannabinoids and Their Effects
Although there are more than 85 cannabinoids that we know of, it is impossible to cover each and every one of them here. We do know that they all have slightly (or drastically) different effects on the human body. We will cover some of the most important ones below.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that does not have psychoactive effects. In other words, it will not cause the consumer to feel euphoric or high. Research shows that it instead helps with a variety of ailments, such as treating anxiety, insomnia, and cancer. It is also correlated with the growth of brain cells and bones.
CBDa, also known as cannabidiolic acid, was only recently recognised as being present in high amounts in certain marijuana strains (such as ruderalis). When heated up, CBDa turns into CBD. It is also not psychoactive, and although more research needs to be done, studies have shown that it could be perfect for its cancer fighting properties (anti-proliferation) as well as anti-emetic ones.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is famous for its psychoactive effects on the user. These effects include euphoria and other varying emotional and mental states of mind. It is particularly useful in treating pain because of its neuroprotective qualities but is also works well to fight nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disorders, and stress disorders.
THCa, also known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, turns into THC when it is heated up. Despite it serving as the precursor to THC, it does not share the same psychoactive effects as THC. It has properties that include anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and anti-emetic ones, as well as indications that it can also fight prostate cancer.
CBN, or cannabinol, is mildly psychoactive, although it will not produce the same euphoric high that THC does. In fact, CBN comes from the degrading of THC and works for sedation purposes better than any of the other cannabinoids. It is most effective treatments include insomnia, glaucoma, and pain.