Cannabino…what? So Many Cannabinoids!

An Overview of What They Are and What They Do:

As more states legalize medical cannabis and recreational marijuana, we are learning more about marijuana and its many uses…and also about the intricacies of this impressive plant. You may have heard the term cannabinoid, but you may be surprised to know that there are dozens of cannabinoids. In fact, scientists disagree about the number of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemicals that make up the marijuana plant, and this article will discuss the most commonly identified ones and their characteristics.

Most people have heard of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); THC is the component that causes a person to experience psychoactive effects or feel high. THC must be activated by heat in order to release this result. Many scientists and consumers of cannabis products believe that the whole plant should be used for maximum benefit; they argue that when the “entourage effect” takes place, the cannabinoids’ properties interact positively and intensify the healing process. The entourage effect also ensures that non-psychoactive compounds balance out the effects of THC so the user does not get overly dazed and confused!

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most notable cannabis compound. In recent years CBD has gained recognition for treating the symptoms of many disorders including anxiety, epilepsy, cancer, and fibromyalgia. A growing number of people use CBD for general wellness. CBD oil can easily be added to foods and drinks, and it can be ingested on its own. CBD does not have the properties that cause a high.

The third most commonly known cannabinoid is cannabinol (CBN), which has a sedative effect but no mind-altering influences like THC. It is often used for insomnia, but some people use it for anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-convulsive needs. When THC oxidizes, it converts to CBN. That is why marijuana left out of an air-tight container for a while loses the ability to make a person feel high, but he/she may feel drowsy.

Other types of cannabinoids have very specific purposes that seem to support the work of the three powerhouses THC, CBD, and CBN. Some are endocannabinoids that are also produced in the human body, such as N-Arachidonoylethanolamine, 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether. It is possible these kinds of endocannabinoids enhance the functioning of those cannabinoids found in our bodies.

  • N-Arachidonoylethanolamine (Anandamide or AEA) is a neurotransmitter that binds cannabinoid receptors, and it is specifically produced in our body tissue and cell membranes.
  • 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) regulates marijuana’s active THC components.
  • 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether (noladin ether) acts as a receptor.

Scientists are devoting more research attention to endocannabinoids such as N-Arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA), Virodhamine (OAE), and Lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI). These endocannabinoids simulate the endocannabinoids produced in our bodies and facilitate the work of neurotransmitter release.

As legal regulations which previously constrained research become more conducive for studying the full effects of cannabis components, there will be exciting discoveries about the roles of cannabinoids and how we can use them to address health and wellness concerns.