What are Cannabinoids?
In the 1990’s, it was discovered that all vertebrates (animals with spines) have what came to be called an Endocannabinoid System, or ECS. The ECS helps maintain the body’s homeostasis by assisting in the regulation of sleep, mood, appetite, pain response, memory, reproduction, and immune response, to name only a few. The human body naturally produces two known cannabinoids to help accomplish these tasks named AEA and 2-AG, while the cannabis plant has been discovered to contain over 100 useful cannabinoids.
How do Cannabinoids work?
Different cannabinoids target different receptors. In the human body, only two relevant receptors have, as yet, been identified. They are called CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are located throughout the body, but particularly on immune cells. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is one of the best-known cannabinoids and it targets only the CB1 receptor, whereas Cannabinoid or CBN exclusively targets the CB2 receptor, and or CBD targets both. Different cannabinoids affect the two receptors in different ways, thereby producing different effects. For example, by relieving pain, increasing appetite, or diminishing stress and anxiety. A few of these cannabinoids are psychoactive, however, many are non-intoxicating. See our notes in the next section for differences between the most popular cannabinoids. It is best to consult a medical professional if you are considering using cannabinoids. These effects are often regulated by the body’s own Endocannabinoid System, unless that system is compromised or in some way ineffectual. It is then that the use of exo-cannabinoids, or, cannabinoids produced outside the body, can prove quite beneficial.
This illustrates why the body craves the veritable alphabet soup of cannabinoids, (CBD, CBN, CBG, etc.) and why it absorbs them so willingly. There are literally hundreds of benefits to the over 100 known cannabinoids, all but two of which can only be derived from the cannabis plant.
Which cannabinoids should I take, and for what ailments?
There is a plethora of information out there regarding cannabinoids, especially the most popular ones, which include THC, CBD, CBC, CBG and CBN. What follows is a quick run-down of these five most popular derivatives, but should NOT be taken as medical advice. As ever, the best resource for you is your preferred medical professional. Life Science Holding Company advocates for individuals to consult their medical professional before beginning to use or take any cannabinoid substances or byproducts.
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is by far the most well-known cannabinoid, as it was the first to be discovered back in the 1960’s. The stand-out property of THC is that, unlike nearly every other cannabinoid, THC is psychoactive. This of course means that THC is responsible for the “high” that comes with the once-typical use of cannabis. Apart from its psychotropic effects, however, THC can also help with pain relief, digestion, appetite, and mood. Additionally, it’s being used to treat a diverse set of symptoms from conditions like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, sleep apnea, and HIV/AIDS. Due to its psychoactive properties however, there is a long list of contraindications, including operating heavy machinery or automobiles, and should be used only sparingly, and in a controlled environment.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is the next-most known cannabinoid, and its uses are too many to enumerate fully here. It is, however, widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, reduce anxiety and depression, alleviate cancer-related symptoms, benefit heart health, and even reduce the incidence of diabetes. CBD is also absent the psychotropic effects of THC.
CBC (Cannabichromene) is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is lesser known, but has been observed to play a part in neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, which are key components of brain health and development.
CBG (Cannabigerol) is also a lesser-known cannabinoid, but interest is growing amongst researchers and cultivators for its non-psychoactive benefits including addressing glaucoma, cancerous tumor growth, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
CBN (Cannabinol) is marginally psychoactive and is known for its applications as a sleep aid and a remedy for arthritis. Studies on CBN are still in their relatively early stages, and research will no doubt continue on all cannabinoids as their applications prove nearly endless.
There are clearly many uses for cannabinoids, and science is only beginning to unlock most of them. As time and sciences progress, the demand for these health aids will only increase. Consult a medical professional to see which cannabinoids are right for you. To read more visit LSHC’s legal disclosure.
Healthline: Endo-Cannabinoid System
Wikipedia: Endocannabinoid System
Healthline: Side Effects
Healthline: CBD Oil Benefits
Verilife: Cannabinoid Benefits