Whether you call it reefer or ganja, grass or marijuana, Cannabis remains the most used drug globally. The chemical compounds that give cannabis it’s infamous and highly beneficial properties are referred to as Cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – is the most abundant and well-known cannabinoid with psychoactive properties that affects pleasure, concentration, memory, appetite, and perception. Inhaling or ingesting THC can affect areas of the brain associated with movement, sensations, visions, coordination, memory, reward, and judgment. Users often describe the high as a very mellow, euphoric, uplifting, and physically relaxing experience. Although it has been demonized since the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, THC in cannabis has recently been explored as a medicine, as research has shown its use highly beneficial for those with a variety of conditions and chronic pain. It’s also no secret that marijuana has helped patients undergoing chemotherapy regain their appetite. States with legal marijuana have also seen a decrease in opioid overdose and prescription rates, suggesting that patients would prefer to treat their pain with cannabis as opposed to opiates.
Cannabinoids – What Are They and How are They Relevant?
Cannabinoids are a natural occurring chemical compound unique to the Cannabis plant, Outside of THC, there are nearly 80 more. Here are just a few of those subclasses:
- Cannabigerol (CBG) – a non-psychoactive, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory cannabinoid.
- Cannabichromene (CBC) – a cannabinoid with anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant, and pain relieving properties.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) – a cannabinoid known for it’s anti-psychotic and pain relieving effects.
- Cannabinol (CBN) – a mild psychoactive cannabinoid derivative of THC known with a sedative, lethargic effect.
Cannabinoids work by interacting with specific cannabinoid receptors found within the brain and other parts of the body. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 – which affects metabolic processes and may balance the psychoactive effects of THC.
- CB2 – primarily found within immune tissues, these receptors play a role in the anti-inflammatory effects.
These receptors make up the Endocannabinoid System, a network of cells receptors that interact with said cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating sleep, hormones, metabolism, immune functions, gastrointestinal activity, cardiovascular activity, pain perception, bone mass. This system is also responsible for our body’s anti-inflammatory response to cannabinoids and may even inhibit the growth of tumors.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found naturally and exclusively in the cannabis plant, which are responsible for the effects of inhaling or ingesting it. These cannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies, which in turn make up our endocannabinoid system. There are many subclasses of cannabinoids all with different properties, such as CBG, CBC, CBD, THC, and CBN, to name just a few of them. Some of the classic effects of these cannabinoids are enhanced mood, increased appetite, pain relief, anti-inflammation, and anti-bacterial. Although marijuana has often been unjustly been dismissed as a taboo, 31 states and Washington D.C. have shed light on its benefits through the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana.
Whether you’re a regular smoker, a patient, a medical professional, or someone who is completely against the use of marijuana, it is important to understand how cannabinoids work in our bodies and the potential for cannabis use as a medicine.
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