Cannabinoids are specific compounds found in cannabis plants. Their discovery paved the way for numerous studies on their interaction with the human body.
Studies show that no other plants have been detected to be involved in the actual production of cannabinoids, and there are over 100 of these compounds in the cannabis plants. Some cannabinoids are present at low levels, while others can be found in high concentrates. Cannabidiol (CBD) makes up 40% of the extract in hemp, and it is nonpsychoactive. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is also present in the hemp plant, is psychoactive.
CBD and THC are the most talked about cannabinoids due to their effects and numerous benefits.
How Cannabis Produces Cannabinoids
CBD and THC are derived by synthesizing several cannabinoid acids such as CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid), THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid), CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid), etc. After synthesis, they are decarboxylated into their corresponding cannabinoid compounds.
Examples of cannabinoids present after decarboxylation include;
- CBD (Cannabidiol)
- CBG (Cannabigerol)
- THC (Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBC (Cannabichromene)
It is important to note that the various cannabinoids listed above, although similar in origin, have different effects on the human body.
For instance, both CBD and CBG help fight pain and inflammation. However, CBG has specific antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which CBD lacks. This makes it an effective treatment against resistant bacterial strains such as Staphylococcus aureus.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a unique signaling and communication system in the body. It was discovered through an inquiry into the effects of cannabinoids. The system was found to play a role in various bodily functions, including appetite, sleep, mood, cognition, and motor function. You should know that the body also produces its natural chemicals known as endocannabinoids, which help to regulate the bodily functions through their interaction with the receptors.
The cannabinoids produced by the endocannabinoid system are made from fat cells in the postsynaptic neuron. Upon activation of this neuron, these cannabinoids are released from the cell to the presynaptic neuron where they attach to the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). In a similar manner, when cannabinoids are applied topically or ingested into the body, they follow the process and act as a switch to control the activities of the neurons and the body at large.