Cannabinoids are class of chemical compounds naturally produced by the body (endocannabinoids) and found in the cannabis plant and certain foods (phytocannabinoids). Many cannabinoids can also be manufactured chemically.
Cannabinoids bind onto “receptors” located in the brain (CB1) and elsewhere in the body (CB2), and empower the body’s Endocannabinoid System, which controls and coordinates a wide range of physiological functions. They are becoming recognized as essential to promoting and maintaining overall health.
The most notable cannabinoid is THC, which is the primary psychoactive agent in the cannabis plant. However, cannabis contains at least 85 different phytocannabinoids. Many of these, especially Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabinol (CBN) and THC, are being studied, tested and/or prescribed as treatments for various medical conditions.
The following chart show how various cannabinoids are poised to deliver enormous potential health benefits.
The study of cannabis and various cannabinoids recently led to the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System. This physiological system present in humans and higher animals is involved in promoting homeostasis – the body’s ability to maintain a stable internal environment by adjusting its physiological processes to compensate for various internal and external changes.
For example, the body’s homeostatic processes maintain a constant body temperature, regulate oxygen, pH and glucose levels in the blood, activate the immune system, remove waste products from the blood via kidney functions, and even affect sleep cycles, personality traits and mood states.
This system uses endocannabinoids produced in the body and phytocannabinoids found in foods and other natural substances, such as cannabis, to control and coordinate the physiological functions that promote homeostasis. It is becoming recognized as one of the most complex and important body systems for establishing and maintaining overall human health.
Terpenes are organic compounds found in essential oils, resins and balsams derived from plants. They are generally responsible for the specific smells and flavors of plants, especially cannabis. Certain cannabis strains can contain more than 200 distinct terpenes, and no other plant genus on Earth offers a more extraordinary array of tastes and aromas.
Beyond this, researchers are discovering the enormous therapeutic potential of terpenes. Some can help increase alertness, improve mood and combat depression. Some help relax muscles and relieve pain, inflammation, stress, and anxiety. Some have anticonvulsant effects and even antimicrobial effects that may help heal burns without scarring. The potential medicinal applications are staggering.
Anandamide is a chemical compound naturally produced in the brain and present in certain foods, such as chocolate. The word is taken from The Sanskrit, ananda, which means joy, bliss and delight.
Anandamide is a cannabinoid neurotransmitter that binds to the same CB1 neural receptors (located in the central nervous system) and the CB2 receptors (located elsewhere in the body) as cannabinoids. Anandamide “activates” the effects of THC and other cannabinoids and transmits them various “effectors” throughout the body.
Research shows that anandamide plays a role in the generation of pleasure and motivation by the brain, as well as in eating and sleeping behaviors, and pain relief. It is also being studied as the basis for new treatments for anxiety and depression.