How is cannabis able to produce its intoxicating, mind-altering, and therapeutic effects? Mostly through the use of cannabinoids. The two best-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But there are actually many, many more in the cannabis plant worth knowing.
Cannabinoids are believed to be responsible for producing most of the therapeutic and intoxicating effects of cannabis. It has been theorized that other cannabis compounds, like terpenes, work together in synergy with them to produce more complete effects (the entourage effect). Nevertheless, the overwhelming therapeutic and intoxicating potential of individual ones is undeniable.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are considered to be ‘phytocannabinoids’. This means that they are external cannabinoids that are introduced into the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a physiological system that helps the body to remain well-balanced (homeostasis). It is believed that the ECS is responsible for modulating functions like sleep, mood, appetite, pain perception, and much more.
The ECS is primarily composed of protein cell receptors, endocannabinoids, and phytocannabinoids. Cannabinoids produce their effects by interacting with these cell receptors in various ways. For example, THC has been known to bind directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors. By comparison, CBD has been found to stimulate these receptors, even changing the shape of CB1 receptors and making it harder for them to bind with THC.
That’s why, when THC and CBD are consumed together, some of THC’s stimulating effects are muted. Some people tend to experience anxiety or paranoia when consuming THC, but adding CBD into the mix can help to negate some of the negative effects of cannabinoids like THC. Their effects can be seriously altered by bringing other cannabinoids into the mix.
But phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD aren’t the only cannabinoids that work with the ECS–there’s also the role of endocannabinoids to consider. Endocannabinoids are endogenously produced cannabinoids made by the body specifically for the purpose of interacting with the ECS to maintain homeostasis.
After endocannabinoids finish their job, they are broken down by enzymes and recycled, kind of like they were edible cannabinoids that the body eats up. But research shows that phytocannabinoids can alter this process. For instance, CBD is believed to inhibit the breakdown of endocannabinoids, allowing them to work for longer.
Now that we’ve addressed the common question “what are cannabinoids?” let’s take a look at some of the most common ones found in cannabis and what they do.
THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol. This intoxicating cannabinoid is responsible for the mind-altering high cannabis produces. Most of the negative effects of cannabis (anxiety, paranoia, drowsiness, overeating) are associated with THC.
CBD: Cannabidiol. A psychoactive yet non-intoxicating cannabinoid with serious therapeutic potential for alleviating pain, anxiety, and more.
CBG: Cannabigerol. Found in small concentrations in cannabis. Is believed to have the potential for fighting inflammation, pain, nausea, glaucoma.
CBN: Cannabinol. A mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is more abundant in older and aged cannabis.
CBC: Cannabichromene. May have pain-relieving effects. Believed to stimulate the release of the endocannabinoid anandamide.
THCA: Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid. The acidic precursor to THC. Visible as the crystals that cover the leaves and buds of the cannabis plant. Is converted into intoxicating THC when exposed to heat. Looking to take advantage of a specific cannabinoid? Check out our online menu for a selection of cannabis products that can harness the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids. While you’re at it, check out our deals page as well for some serious savings.