There’s no doubt in saying that the natural world is a treasure growth of biologically useful compounds, and there are endless examples where these have been tackled as effective treatments. Cannabis produces a variety of compounds known as cannabinoids, many of which have not been detected in any other plant.
How many, exactly? It’s hard to say. Most of them are present at very low levels, especially in commercial cannabis products, making it difficult for scientists to accurately detect them. The important point is that there are many.
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds produced by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation. “Cannabinoids” is a blanket term covering a family of complex chemicals (both natural and man-made) that lock on to molecules on the surface of cells called cannabinoid receptors.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain. The main cannabinoid receptors that we know about have been christened CB1 and CB2. As they are found in various parts of the brain and the nervous system, they control a number of functions and can influence various aspects of our health (although in certain cases both receptors work together).
Nobody knows for certain how many cannabinoids there are, but recent estimates suggest there are well over 100. The best studied cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN).
Cannabinoid receptors have a direct effect on the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. In other words, they influence the way in which information and chemical compounds are processed by the brain.
Where are cannabinoids found?
Cannabinoids exist in larger and smaller quantities in all the varieties of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. Other plants also produce cannabinoids, but not in the same volumes (and not in the same way) as cannabis or hemp.
In the Human body
Cannabinoids that are produced naturally by the human body are called endocannabinoids. The human network of cannabinoids and their corresponding cannabinoid receptors is referred to as the endocannabinoid system. It is essential for the human body to function correctly. A clinical lack of endocannabinoids is related to a whole series of illnesses and complaints. For example, cystic fibrosis may be caused by a malfunctioning endocannabinoid system.
The brain scientist Professor Andreas Zimmer from the Bonn Institute of Molecular Psychiatry is investigating what the function of this endocannabinoid system is. ‘Mice without CB1 receptors show psychological abnormalities,’ he explains. ‘By contrast, CB2 regulates the growth of bones, for example.’
To understand more about endocannabinoid, watch the video below where Dr. Matthew Hill Associate Professor, University of Calgary uncovers the basic workings of the endocannabinoid system, what we know about how cannabis use effects the brain, and the limitations of past approaches to studying cannabis use in key areas of mental health such as schizophrenia and psychoses.
If you use cannabis, you’ve probably heard all about its two most popular cannabinoids, THC and CBD. But these aren’t the only cannabinoids produced by the plant. So, if you want to know how your cannabis will affect you, learning about the different cannabinoids is the first step. So, let’s get to know some of them a little better. We will explore few of the major known cannabinoids found in the Hemp plant.
Let’s start this list with the elephant in the room: Cannabidiol. There’s a great deal of research that suggests different cannabinoids work synergistically to produce a stronger effect. CBD is believed to be effective at improving one’s mood and helping users to relax. It may also act as a natural anti-inflammatory. So, while cannabinoids like CBD work well on their own, some scientists believe future strains of hemp should focus on mixing various compounds to create a more potent experience. CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain.
Studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep. Actually, there is lot more to learn about CBD. We have also blogged previously about CBD Oil. Here is a direct link to it if you wish to learn more https://www.himalayanhemp.in/post/what-is-cbd-oil-cost-benefits-uses-and-everything-you-need-to-know
CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)
What is present in the natural hemp plant, however, is an interesting compound known as cannabidiolic acid(CBDA). CBDA interacts with the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. COX-2 enzymes are associated with inflammation after an injury or infection, so by blocking COX-2 enzymes, CBDA can relieve inflammation and associated pain. CBDA is easier on the lungs, which makes them ideal for people who have compromised respiratory systems. CBDA is most often found in a tincture form, but it could also be incorporated into many edibles, soft drink products, and even salad dressings.
The most abundant cannabinoid present in marijuana, THC is responsible for cannabis’ most well-known psychoactive effects. THC acts as a partial agonist at the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The compound is a mild analgesic, or painkiller, and cellular research has shown that it has antioxidant activity. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), THC affects things like thinking, memory, pleasure, movements, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception. THC stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating euphoria, according to NIDA. THC actually brags several health benefits that have been shown to help treat depression, PTSD, epilepsy, and even eating disorders.
People sometimes mistake the cannabinoid cannabinol for cannabidiol. Yes, these two compounds have a similar name, but cannabinol (CBN) is a distinct cannabinoid with its own unique properties. CBN is a non-intoxicating compound that is best known as the cannabinoid created when THC ages. As it is usually present in high amounts in older cannabis some people seek out older cannabis just to enjoy the effects of CBN. Studies on CBN have found that it may be a potent antibacterial agent.
In the future, we will see CBN being used to fight off bacterial infections that our usual antibiotics can’t heal. CBN may also be helpful for those suffering from glaucoma. CBN may also be an anti-inflammatory agent capable of helping those with rheumatoid arthritis. In one rodent study, CBN was shown to reduce arthritis. But keep this in mind, current research on CBN is limited with very few studies demonstrating its effects in the human body.
A lesser-known cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG), while not present in large quantities in most strains, is worth learning about for a number of reasons. The reason CBGA (Cannabigerol Acid) is so important is because it’s the originator of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). That’s right: without CBGA, there’d be no THC or CBD In 2015 study, CBG was shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease,
which is characterized by nerve cell degeneration in the brain. CBG is showing great promise as a cancer fighter.
Specifically, CBG was shown to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth. In one such study, it was shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice, thereby slowing colon cancer growth. Apart from this, CBG works as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant.
If you wish to know CBG a little better check out our previous blog https://www.himalayanhemp.in/post/what-is-cbg-and-its-medical-benefits
Another lesser-known cannabinoid that shows medicinal potential is cannabichromene (CBC). It doesn’t get as much attention, but CBC’s benefits are extremely promising. CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that’s created by heating up cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). CBC is non-intoxicating, so it doesn’t produce a euphoric high like THC. The reason it is non-intoxicating is because it binds poorly to CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. CBC was shown to be a powerful inhibitor of acne. As a skin disease, acne is characterized by excess sebum production and sebaceous gland inflammation. It turns out that CBC exhibited powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also suppressed excessive lipid production in the sebaceous glands. Scientists believe CBC could be helpful for people suffering from deep emotional anguish. When paired with CBD and THC, CBC appears to have a positive effect on a person’s mood.
Cannabicyclol (also known as CBL) is one of the least studied phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant and very little is known about its potential in medicine. Cannabicyclol (CBL) is a little-studied phytocannabinoid that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. Scientists have simply identified CBL as a constituent of the cannabis plant and its biosynthesis, but have not studied the ways in which it affects humans.
Can Cannabinoids treat cancer?
There has been some research suggesting that endocannabinoids can suppress tumour growth, and in experiments (as mentioned above) where mice were given very high doses of purified THC, they seemed to have a lower risk of developing cancer. But this is not enough solid scientific evidence to suggest that cannabinoids or cannabis can cut people’s cancer risk. This complex issue hit the headlines in 2012 when the British Lung Foundation released a study suggesting that the cancer risks of cannabis had been underestimated, although this has been questioned by some experts also. But there is still no reliable evidence that cannabis can prevent cancer.
THCV is well-known for being an appetite suppressant, a property also shared by other cannabinoids such as anandamide. Anandamide, an endogenous THC look-alike, is also well known, as is 2-AG, for interacting with CB receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system.
There are many other properties that can be ascribed to THC, CBD and the other cannabinoids listed above: they help with nausea, reduce inflammation, alleviate cramps etc. In fact, cannabinoids have already been connected with a variety of major impairments such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Tourette Syndrome, epilepsy, asthma and many others.
In a large number of countries, associations and even political parties are trying to encourage progress in cannabinoid research. Doctors also long for more information, more clinical tests and anything else that might help them to advise their patients better. While the legalisation of cannabis is moving forward at a rapid pace, at least compared to the previous decade, it could still take several more decades before things really change and cannabinoids are socially acceptable, without having some kind of stoner clichés weighing them down.
While CBD will probably always remain the most prominent cannabinoid in hemp, there are plenty of other fascinating compounds that have great potenti