When in 1964, Raphael Mechoulam, Dr. in Chemistry from Israel, made the isolation of THC (Del 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol), a very important cannabinoid , he marked the beginning of cannabis research. Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC from Lebanese resin, and from that moment on, many other cannabinoids were discovered. And not only cannabinoids, but the cannabinoids receptors throughout the body and “endocannabinoids”that are a THC – like compounds similar to THC that our body produces in order to keep our organism healthy.
What are the cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a group of active compounds found in marijuana. They are the chemicals which give the cannabis its medical and recreational properties. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with different receptors in the body to produce several effects, such as feeling high.
But what are they and how interacts with our body? Before going ahead we must understand what the cannabis receptors and endocannabinoids are. So far, 113 different cannabinoids have been found in the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are the cannabinoids that most users know and understand.
Marijuana’s cannabinoids are produced in the trichomes of the buds. Most strains of marijuana available try to have high levels of THC for its psychoactive effect. More recently and due to the medical ability of CBD (Cannabidiol), the market is looking for strains with highest content in this cannabinoid. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and it can to counteract the high produced by THC.
THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids, but there are many other in marijuana with health benefits. Some of these are cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC).
Before going ahead we are going to see the benefits and properties of the most important cannabinoids. As we said before, since Raphael Mechoulam began his research, many other cannabinoids are being studied and soon we will discover much more about them.
The endocannabinoids are cannabinoids too. But they are produced by our organism. That is why they are called “endo”. The cannabinoids produced by the plants are “exo” because we receive them from the outside.
Although these cannabinoids are different from those produced by cannabis, they have many similar properties and effects. This occurs because they interact with the same pathways in the organism named cannabinoid receptors.
Researchers know that there are several different endocannabinoids. Anyway, the most studied and understood are 2-AG and anandamide.
Other endocannabinoids are noladin ether, virodhamine, and N-arachidonyl dopamine (NADA).
Although the functions of these cannabinoids in our organism are wide-ranging, it seems that their most important function is to promote the homeostasis.
Relationship among cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors
To fully understand cannabinoids, it is necessary to know what the endocannabinoid system is. It is a system in our organisms made of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors.
It is brilliant the way Mary Ann Liebert, from Inc Publishers, synthesizes this subject. This is what she wrote about it:
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) primarily consists of cannabinoid receptors (CBRs), endogenous ligands, and enzymes for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and inactivation.The ECS plays an important role in regulation of synaptic transmission in the central and enteric nervous systems (ENS) through both excitatory and inhibitory effects, mediating a variety of physiological processes including pain sensation and modulation, motor function, inflammation, and immunity.
CBRs belong to the superfamily of G-protein-coupled receptors and are expressed in two main forms, CB1 and CB2.3 CB1 is mainly expressed in central and peripheral neurons, including the ENS, whereas CB2 is mostly expressed by inflammatory/immune cells.The ubiquitous distribution of CBRs in the ENS and gastrointestinal (GI) tract highlights its role in GI health and disease including motility, inflammation and immunity, intestinal and gastric acid secretion, nociception and emesis pathways, and appetite control”
Both receptors and cannabinoids can be considered like a process that acts like a lock or a key, depending on the circumstances. Cannabinoids link to cannabinoid receptors the same way a key fits into a lock. If the the receptors become unlocked our organism will experience changes in the cell function producing different effects in the body. For example, after smoking marijuana, THC activates our endocannabinoid system by getting together to the receptors.
We have two different kinds of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are located in the brain, and produce the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
CB2 receptors are located in other areas of the body. They are the cause of quite a few biological functions.
These functions explain the effects produced by marijuana. The endocannabinoid system has much to do with regulation of appetite, the way we sleep, pain, good or bad mood, memory, and so on.
The most studied cannabinoids
In our web you have a complete research about all the most important cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBC, CBN, CBG and THCV.
THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol)
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid that produces the marijuana’s psychoactive effect. It is concentrated in the flowers of the cannabis plant; to be precise it is in the resin. It is produced by some glands ubicated in the female reproductive organs of the plant.
THC provokes the production of dopamine by stimulating some brain cells. This is the reason why we experience that feeling of euphoria.
THC produces certain episodes of hallucinations. These episodes don’t last more than two hours .This feeling begins few minutes after we consume the cannabis. But even though the feeling of being high is over, the THC continues affecting our locomotive system for certain time.
No doubt it is the most known cannabinoid among the cannabis users.
No doubt CBD is the second most known cannabinoid among cannabis users. And in fact, this interest is increasing more and more due to the medical properties of this cannabinoid. It is not psychoactive and in fact it acts like a brake of THC.
How many users are demanding strains with higher quantities in CBD, many breeders are creating new varieties with enormous amounts of CBD (10 – 20%).
It can be considered a brake for the psychoactive effect of THC. For example, a variety with a very high amount of THC could be less psychoactive than other with more THC but with a high level of CBD too. It is the balance between both cannabinoids.
CBD has also medical properties certain psychological disorders, such as anxiety, depression and also schizophrenia.
CBN comes from THC although its effect is less potent. This is because its presence in the flowers is inferior.
CBN appears once the THC begins to degrade. It starts to increase its presence when the flowers degrade. This could be the reason why few users of cannabis are interested on it.
Medicine uses CBN to treat skin problems. It is also quite relaxing. Indica strains have higher quantity of CBN than sativa varieties.
Why indica strains have more relaxing effect than sativa ones? It is very simple. It is because they have higher amounts of CBN. That is why they make you feel sleepy.
CBN stimulates appetite. It is used to fight cancer and dermal treatments. It is a good analgesic too.
CBC ( Cannabichromene)
It is produced in small quantities.
It has several medical properties, especially when is combined with other cannabinoids. This phenomenon is known as “reinforcement effect”.
Among its medical properties we could highlight its antimicrobial and anti viral effect. It is anti – inflammatory, analgesic and anti – depressant. It is used also to fight the proliferation of cancer cells.
CBG ( Cannabigerol)
It has been demonstrated its antibacterial and anti – inflammatory ability. It is also efficient against cancer and strengthening the bones.
It is also a natural relaxing product and it has properties to treat dermatitis. Nowadays it is being studied its capacity against cancer.
It is more common in industrial hemp than in marijuana strains.
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarine) effect is similar to THC. It is very psychoactive too but the effects last much less. If you have the chance to try a variety with this cannabinoid, you will check that the experience lasts between 5 or 6 minutes. Its effect is clearly psychedelic and it produces momentary hallucinations.
Moreover, it has medical properties such as it ability to control obesity, anxiety, diabetes 2 and Parkinson.
It is also very efficient to treat some addictions such as alcoholism and smoking.
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