Everyone has an endocannabinoid system (acts as a re-uptake inhibitor of endogenous neurotransmitters, or those produced by the body). Neurotransmitters help maintain homeostasis (stability/balance among brain chemicals) in the body. Other well known neurotransmitters are dopamine and seratonin.
The endocannabinoid system has three major components: The endocannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes (break down endocannabinoids after they are used).
Cannabis (and all its cannabinoids) affect the endocannabinoid system, particularly THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, and also CBD, a non psychoactive component.
Most of us know what THC is, the most well known cannabinoid. (This is a cannabinoid not produced naturally by the body). However, many of us don’t fully understand the benefits of CBD – or other minor cannabinoids.
CBD can be used to help regulate your own body’s endocannabinoids and to do so without creating an intoxicating effect. Two major cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2.
Anandamide and 2-AG are the two major endocannabinoids produced naturally in the body. THC is the psychoactive plant cannabinoid produced by Cannabis. All three of these cannabinoids can activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors, although each one has a different potency at each receptor.
CBD receptors are found on cell surfaces. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system and to a lesser degree, in other tissues. CB2 receptors are mostly in peripheral organs, especially cells associated with the immune system.
CB1 receptors interact with THC, producing the HEAD buzz.
CB2 receptors interact throughout the body, like the immune system, or more associated with the BODY.
But enough science (for now).
Some of the more well-known cannabinoids are THC, (tetrahydrocannabinol), which has definite therapeutic properties (such as anti nausea effects) and CBD, (cannabidiol), which is tolerated in greater quantities in the body.
Lesser known cannabinoid are:
THCA, is the acidic parent of THC found in the raw cannabis plant. When exposed to heat, sunlight, or time, the THCA in the harvested plant will convert to THC. THCA is non-psychoactive and is particularly useful for reducing nausea, reducing seizures, reducing muscle spasms, and fighting tumor and cancer cells.
CBDA is the acidic parent of CBD found in raw plant. CBDA converts to CBD when it is exposed to heat, sunlight, or time. Like THCA, CBDA is non-psychoactive. CBDA is also great for reducing nausea, reducing inflammation, and fighting tumor and cancer cells.
CBN (cannabinol) is a breakdown product of THC. As harvested cannabis ages, THC will gradually be converted to CBN. CBN is known to be particularly useful for aiding sleep, and also good for reducing pain and muscle spasms.
CBGA is actually the precursor molecule that is turned into THCA and CBDA as the cannabis plant develops, so it is found only in tiny amounts in the mature plant. In the harvested plant, remaining CBGA converts to CBG with exposure to air and light.
CBG (cannabigerol) is useful as an antidepressant, a muscle relaxant, an antibiotic and antifungal agent, and as a blood pressure reducer.
CBC (cannabichromene) is also found only in tiny amounts in the cannabis plant. CBC has pain reducing, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-cancer effects
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) has been found to suppress appetite and can aid weight loss, and also has antiseizure effect.
Although these are the major 7 cannabinoids, there are many other beneficial minor cannabinoids.
Look for a future post on these minor cannabinoids and also terpenes (*YAY*, one of my favorite topics).