Explaining Cannabinoids

What are cannabinoids? How do they work?

Cannabinoids were recognized for the first time by scientists in the 1940’s. The molecular structure of tetrahydrocabinol (THC) was then discovered in 1964. Because of the molecular similarity between THC and cannabidiol (CBD), researchers believed at first that CBD was the precursor to THC. Modern science has now determined that CBD and THC are produced independently in the cannabis plant.

The ability to produce a very special family of chemicals sets cannabis different from the other types of plants. Cannabinoids are phytochemicals that interact with the human endocannabinoid system effectively.  Up to now, the total number of known cannabinoids exceeds 80 but the most famous and common of them is tetrahydrocabinol (THC), which is associated with recreation usage but offers several medical benefits.

In addition to THC, cannabis contains cannabidiol (CBD) and over 80 other different cannabinoids, which also offers several medical benefits. Cannabidiol is none-psychoactive and provides anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antipsychotic and some other properties that make it interesting in the world of medical science. Currently, the research into applications and qualities of THC, CBD and the other cannabinoids is happening on a larger scale.

More research continues to explore the benefits of other cannabinoids such as these listed below to discover different medical uses for marijuana.







CBN Cannabidiol












Cannabigerol Monoethyl Ether


How cannabinoids make marijuana medicinal beneficial

People mostly ask about the relationship between cannabis and the high feeling. Actually, the body makes its own version of cannabinoids (that are very similar to those that marijuana plant produces) in the endocannabinoid system. Chemicals in cannabis, only activate the cannabinoid receptors, which exist naturally in the body.

Cannabis plants can show wide variety in the amount and type of cannabinoids they deliver based on the strain. The blend of cannabinoids delivered by a plant is known as the plant’s cannabinoid profile. Breeding techniques have been utilized to control the hereditary qualities of plants and change the cannabinoid profile for different medical uses. For instance, strains of hemp, which are utilized as fiber, have been bred over time with the end goal that they are low in psychoactive chemicals like THC and high in non-psychoactive CBD.

To provide medical and psychoactive effects, these unique chemicals work together with particular receptors within the central nervous system and immune system among other parts of the body. Cannabinoids activate two types of receptors: the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Even though the CB2 receptors exist in the immune system, they also exist in the nerve endings and the brain. After some cannabinoids have entered your body during pot ingestion, they appeal to various cannabinoid receptors.

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A quick example: THC cannabinoid attaches to receptors to activate the endocannabinoid system. And because THC activates the CB1 receptors inside the brain, the user gets the high feeling.  CBD cannabinoids do not fit perfectly with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but researchers are still studying on their indirect effects.

Another cannabinoid – Anandamide – has effects on the CB1 and CB2 receptors. It plays a crucial role in appetite pleasure and reward regulation. Elevated levels of the cannabinoid can increase the pleasure associated with food consumption. It also exists in chocolate and researchers believe that it is responsible for the intense enjoyment people experience when eating it. Anandamide might also be responsible for regulating sleep patterns and pain.

The most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana plant is 2-AG (2-arachidnoylglycerol). 2-AG has effects on the peripheral and central nervous system. Like anandamide, it plays an important role in regulation of appetite, the immune system functions and in managing pain. Researchers also believe that it plays crucial role in inhibiting proliferation of cancerous cells.

Synthetic cannabinoids also exist. They include marinol, which is produced for medical purposes. Like other cannabinoids, they affect the central nervous system. Their use is high in treating anorexia related to weight loss among patients with nausea and vomiting linked to cancer chemotherapy.  Debate on the effectiveness of synthetic cannabinoids still exists.

The medical effects of cannabis

All the effects of cannabis are clear. The benefits vary depending on the number of active compounds, the amount of every active compound contained in the strain. Cannabinoid ratio can relate to THC: CBD. A quick example, the ratio of 1:1 helps with muscle spasms and pain control. Therapeutic implications of the ratio have been a focus of most recent studies.


From helping people get better sleep, to offering pain relief, cannabis has numerous advantageous effects. It helps relieve anxiety, lower muscle spasms, reduce inflammation and slow the growth of bacteria.

As with other compounds, people respond differently to cannabis. Even though it helps with the difficult medical conditions, some people might not benefit from it.

The Future of cannabinoids

Most likely, the commercially available cannabinoids will become more prevalent. The already approved drugs, which are available in the market, include dronabinol and nabilone. As more studies are conducted on cannabinoids including their ability to treat cancer and epilepsy-related side effects, we might see more medical drugs that incorporate chemical compounds of marijuana.

Studies on cannabinoids involve biochemical, physiological and chemical varieties. And because cannabis is no longer the herb that helped people get high, people in North America have started accepting it. Medicinal cannabis is strengthening their viewpoint, from celebrities, to politicians and the common people.

In fact, when overused or abused, cannabis can cause dependency and even impair the memory and emotions of the user. However, with responsible use, cannabis has numerous scientifically backed benefits. Including today, scientists are still conducting more studies.


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