We have more information about cannabis than ever before, but many are not well-versed in the molecular breakdown of this seemingly magical plant. It all starts by identifying the most important parts, and in terms of cannabis, that's cannabinoids. So, what are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds found organically in the cannabis plant as well as other plants such as sunflowers and cacao. Scientists have uncovered 113 cannabinoids to date, but it is suspected that many more exist and are just waiting to be discovered.
What Are the Effects of Cannabinoids?
In order for cannabinoids to perform and deliver the benefits of cannabis they interact with receptors on the surface of cells within your body's nervous system. The main types of receptors are CB1 and CB2, and this is where cannabinoids attach to. Once these receptors are activated with CBD, THC, or another cannabinoid, a variety of effects are possible. Some change the way that we feel and others trigger homeostatic responses to help our bodies operate at optimal capacity.
Different Types of Cannabinoids
Both delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the most common cannabinoids discussed both online and in your local dispensary. CBD helps to promote the relief of pain and anxiety, while THC produces a psychoactive effect or "high" feeling along with enhanced relief for chronic pain and inflammation. But there are many more. Besides CBD and THC, the most common types of cannabinoids that you'll encounter include:
CBG is processed by your body's endocannabinoid system and latches on to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. It has been found to increase motivation and enhance pleasure, as well as improve sleep, regulate appetite, and provide relief from chronic pain.
CBN, like CBG and CBD, doesn't provide psychoactive effects like THC does but acts as a very potent antibacterial agent. It has also been used in the treatment of both ALS and glaucoma with positive results. Its anti-inflammatory capabilities make it a popular choice for customers with arthritis or similar conditions.
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
CBDA is the cannabinoid that converts into CBD once time and heat are introduced. It doesn't interact with CB1 or CB2 receptors, but instead, it inhibits the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme which causes inflammation. CBDA may help to relieve the inflammation as well as the pain that comes with it.
CBC binds to CB1 receptors but not as well as other cannabinoids. However, it also binds to other receptors to help manage pain perception and plays an integral role in bringing about the entourage effect, where various cannabinoids work together to enhance one another's benefits.
Similar to the standard THC, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-8 THC produces psychoactive effects but is far less potent. It is made from CBD that is derived from hemp plants meaning that it may offer relief from pain and stress, as well as produce feelings of happiness and perhaps mild euphoria.
Are They Legal?
Cannabinoids that come from cannabis plants are legal in states that have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes. CBD oil, specifically, is legal across the United States if it contains less than 0.3% THC (upwards of 0.3% THC is legally considered to be marijuana).
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