What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids, simply put, are chemical compounds that occur naturally in humans and cannabis plants—in our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and as phytocannabinoids. Most of the cannabinoids we know of are classified as phytocannabinoids since they’re extracted from cannabis plants like hemp plants.
The word cannabinoids may not be very well known, but with roughly 100 cannabinoids found in nature, we’re positive that you’ve either heard of or encountered some. For starter, have you ever heard of CBD or THC? CBD and THC may be the most well-known and recognizable cannabinoids, but there are a few others that also play important roles within our daily lives. Here are four cannabinoids everyone should know.
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound common in hemp plants. CBD primarily interacts with cannabinoid receptor 2 (or CB2) within the ECS, which helps to regulate our central nervous and immune system. CBD is used in many all-natural supplements today—ranging from CBD oils to edibles—to help alleviate aches and pains.
THC is found in large amounts in marijuana plants and, unlike CBD, can adhere directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors. By adhering to the CB1 receptors, people experience a “high” feeling. This makes THC a psychoactive compound. It’s important to note that THC is classified as a Schedule I substance, making it illegal to use and sell in many states.
CBC is a lesser known, but still important, cannabinoid. Similar to CBD in that it doesn’t produce a high-like feeling, CBC is more active in helping other cannabinoids through the “Entourage Effect.” There are a wide range of believed benefits of CBC, but none that have been proven in research.
The full name for CBN, cannabinol, may look familiar. If you look at THC, you’ll notice that cannabinol is the suffix of tetrahydroCANNABINOL. While the two compounds share some properties, such as helping to treat epilepsy as an anti-convulsive, it’s important to note CBN comes from oxidized THC, meaning it carries some but not all of the same properties associated with THC.
What Do Cannabinoids Do?
It’s widely believed that cannabinoids can work as an all-natural alternative to many medicines, and research is being done to try to prove out many of the claims. While the benefits to cannabinoids overall may not be well known, there’s some understanding to the benefits of CBD, including using it for, but not limited to, the treatment of:
How Do Cannabinoids Work?
Cannabinoids work in two distinct ways, and their effects are dependent on whether they adhere to the CB1 or CB2 receptors that are found within the endocannabinoid system.
If a cannabinoid interacts with our CB1 receptors, which are found most abundantly in our brain, we may experience two different types of responses.
From THC, which adheres directly to the CB1 receptor, we end up experiencing a “high” feeling. It’s well understood that THC is the primary cannabinoid to cause this feeling, but others can do the same.
On the other hand, CBD interacts with CB1 receptors differently. While they don’t adhere directly to the receptors, they still interact with them positively. Research has begun to show that it’s within CBD’s interactions with the CB1 receptor that individuals may have that feeling of reduced stress or anxiety, act as an all-natural anti-depressant, and be the first step in relieving pain and inflammation.
Now, if a cannabinoid interacts with our CB2 receptors, which are found most abundantly throughout our central nervous and immune systems, individuals may feel a heightened sensation of relief. The feelings associated with the use of CBD oils, gummies, and topicals comes from the interaction between CBD and CB2 receptors, helping to minimize aches and pains similar to over-the-counter medications.
Thanks in part to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, more hemp plants are being cultivated, which is leading to an increase in both the awareness and push for deeper understanding of the benefits that cannabinoids present. As research continues, more benefits may become known and the use of cannabinoids—CBD included—may become more common.
Cannabinoids & Full Spectrum CBD
On their own, cannabinoids are a powerful all-natural compound, each with their own positives. But when we put different cannabinoids together, they can work together more effectively. This is what makes full spectrum CBD so popular.
With a full spectrum CBD product, our bodies may experience what’s known as the entourage effect, which is an enhanced reaction within our body’s endocannabinoid system where multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—all of which are found abundantly in hemp plants—work together to amplify the effects of CBD. With more cannabinoids working together, you have a better chance of getting the result you’re looking for in a CBD product.
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