Cannabinoids are chemicals that are currently being studied with great interest, as they provide various benefits that improve the health conditions of people suffering from pain or serious illness.
The word cannabinoids refer to substances that have similar effects to those produced by the plant Cannabis sativa, but not all of them come from the marijuana plant.
There are currently three types of cannabinoids:
- Phytocannabinoids: natural, from the Cannabis sativa plant.
- Endogenous cannabinoids: produced in the human body.
- Synthetic cannabinoids: produced in the laboratory.
One of the best known cannabinoids is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which gives the psychoactive effect to marijuana.
But other cannabinoids, such as CBD, have recently gained popularity for their various medical applications and benefits.
How do Cannabinoids Work?
Cannabinoids act through two types of receptors in the human body, CB1 and CB2.
- CB1 receptors: Found in the central nervous system, immune system, reproductive and digestive systems.
- CB2 receptors: These are present in peripheral tissues, such as the lung, spleen, immune system cells, etc.
Cannabinoids act on the body by activating their own cannabinoids, modeling the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is the human body’s own cannabinoid system.
Cannabinoids are also produced in laboratories and are known as synthetic cannabinoids. These are various chemical compounds that emulate the properties of these substances.
Phytocannabinoids: Types of Natural Cannabinoids
Phytocannabinoids are the natural cannabinoids that are produced in the Cannabis plant. At least 104 cannabinoids have been identified so far in the marijuana or hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). The most common and studied are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBN (Cannabinol).
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive component of cannabis.
Its therapeutic use is analgesic, as it relieves moderate pain and is neuroprotective.
This cannabinoid is the subject of numerous studies because it produces various effects that could be beneficial in the treatment of various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that provides various health benefits, especially in relieving the pain and symptoms of various diseases.
CBD is used to relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation and the incidence of various ailments and diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and to reduce the side effects of certain medications and therapies.
With this cannabinoid, cannabidiol oil is produced, a product that provides the benefits of phytocannabinoids without the psychological or psychotropic effect of cannabis.
For more information, see What is CBD: Learn All About Cannabis Oil.
CBN (cannabinol) is rarely found in the Cannabis plant and occurs from the degradation of THC.
This is a mild psychoactive (about 10% of the potency of THC). Its therapeutic use is analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunosuppressant.
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is found only in some varieties of Cannabis.
This cannabinoid is a THC antagonist and increases or decreases its psychoactive effects. Commonly the THC/THCV ratio determines the appetite-stimulating effect of cannabis.
CBG (cannabigerol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in larger quantities in hemp used for textiles.
Cannabiderol has antibiotic properties, is an analgesic, reduces pain, inflammation and blood clotting, among others.
CBC (cannabicromene) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that increases the analgesic effect of THC and promotes relaxation.
This is another of the rare phytocannabinoids under study, as it could provide multiple benefits in the treatment of various ailments and health problems.
As mentioned above, the most studied and widely used phytocannabinoids, THC, CBD and CBN, are used to produce a variety of Medicinal Cannabis products, both for oral and topical use.
CBD oil is one of them, and it is possibly the one with the most benefits, as it is the cannabinoid that has the most medical applications. And not having the psychotropic effect of marijuana, it has become very popular.
Due to the positive opinions of patients and the regulation of therapeutic Cannabis around the world, studies may continue to advance to discover new benefits of cannabinoids. Let’s keep an eye on the progress of science as far as cannabinoids are concerned.