What are cannabinoids?
One of the most valuable words in the medical cannabis glossary, that all patients need to understand, is cannabinoid. Cannabinoids, like THC, CBD and CBG, are organic chemical compounds that, with terpenes, make up the building blocks of the cannabis plant. Translating into medicinally valuable relief, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of conditions such as cancer, seizures, and Parkinson’s disease and symptoms such as inflammation, pain and nausea.
Cannabis cannabinoids provide such medical efficacy to humans because they mimic our own naturally produced endocannabinoids, and bind to the same receptors, located throughout the brain and body. The human endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating many different body systems, including pain, memory, mood and appetite. The unique ability of cannabis cannabinoids to be able to communicate with the human body in the same manner that it communicates with itself makes it an ideal medicine for humans.
The following sections provide additional information on some of the more well-known and widely referenced cannabinoids – we’ll help explain what these cannabinoids do and how they may effect the body. We hope that you find this information helpful.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most well-known and most often the most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis. This is the psychoactive component known to produce euphoria, which is more often described as the feeling of being “high.” THC binds primarily to the receptors found throughout the brain. Research has shown THC to work to reduce or even eliminate pain, nausea and stress while also helping to stimulate the appetite and combat insomnia. In high doses, THC may cause some patients to feel paranoia or an increased heart rate, but those adverse effects will subside with time.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid famed for significantly reducing symptoms in patients suffering from seizure and spasm disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. CBD is the cannabinoid most often recommended for children, elderly and other patients who must remain clear-headed in their activities because it is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not produce euphoria or the feeling of being “high.”
CBD reacts with cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body, and works to relieve inflammation and pain while producing a calming-effect in patients. For this reason, it is often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. It has also been shown to work with THC to reduce the size of tumors.
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a mildly psychoactive component found in cannabis which, like strongly psychoactive THC, is derived from tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A). CBN is created when THC-A oxidizes.
CBN can be used effectively as a sleep aid or sedative. This cannabinoid has also been shown to help regulate the immune system, and works to relieve the pain and inflammation caused by several conditions, including arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Studies show that it can be used to reduce the intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. CBN acts as an anti-convulsant, so it is also beneficial to patients suffering from seizure disorders including epilepsy.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. The health benefits provided by THCA are most well absorbed by the body through a raw method of consumption such as cannabis juicing. THCA works to relieve inflammation and pain, and is an ideal cannabinoid for treating symptoms of such conditions as arthritis, seizures.
THCA is an effective neuroprotectant, so it is beneficial in the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It can also help to stimulate the appetite in patients suffering from cachexia and anorexia nervosa. Most impressively, research shows that THC-A helps to slow the proliferation of cancerous cells.