What Are Cannabinoids & What Do They Do?
Do you use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes? As of 2020, there were over 3.43 million recreational cannabis users in the United States alone. Furthermore, research indicates that by 2025, people will have spent more than $33 billion on legal cannabis worldwide.
The increased use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes demonstrates that the plant has numerous health benefits. But did you know that there are various strains and cannabinoids?
Even though several strains are available on the market, scientists still have a lot of work to do. This is only the beginning, and there is much more to discover.
For the time being, we’ll look at the effects of cannabinoids in our bodies and what they do. So let us begin by understanding the meaning of cannabinoids.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabis reduces pain in our bodies, relaxes our minds and bodies, and causes that euphoric feeling, among other effects. Have you ever wondered how these effects happen? The cannabis plant, on the other hand, has glandular trichomes, which produce natural chemical compounds found in viscous resin.
These natural compounds are components of the endocannabinoid system and interact with our body receptors to produce the effects. Because of their alkaloid properties, cannabinoids affect our endocannabinoid system.
THC and CBD are the most commonly prescribed and sold cannabinoids by doctors and cannabis dispensaries. That’s not the end of it. There are over 100 cannabinoid varieties that need more research.
Types of Cannabinoids
It is important to keep in mind that cannabinoids are a type of molecule in a single plant. The Cannabis Sativa plant alone has over 600 molecules, but only 140 of them are cannabinoids molecules. Let us look at the classification of cannabinoids:
- Endocannabinoids: Our bodies naturally produce these cannabinoids.
- Phytocannabinoids: cannabis plants produce these cannabinoids found in the leaves, stems, resin, flowers, stalks, and seeds. These cannabinoids are present in all cannabis plants before dried or smoked. They change their chemical composition when they are burned, heated, dried, or taken into the body in different ways.
- Synthetic Cannabinoids: Laboratories create these cannabinoids like prescription drugs.
What Are Terpenes?
We will discuss terpenes, which are other compounds or molecules found in cannabis plants and other plants. Terpenes are different from cannabinoids because they are responsible for the distinctive smell of the cannabis plant.
Citrus plants like lemons and oranges produce that fresh scent when you peel them. Terpenes are responsible for the fresh scent in citrus fruits and cannabis plants. The molecule has its benefits but is not as great as the cannabinoids.
THC, CBD and Cannabinoid Interaction
The two most common types of marijuana have different effects on our bodies. If you walk into any cannabis centre, they will take you through the difference between the two. Your doctor will also describe cannabis, depending on your condition.
The Sativa strain has more CBD content than THC. On the other hand, the Sativa strain has more THC than CBD. Many clinics and doctors prescribe CBD to treat injuries or long-term illnesses to treat chronic pain. You need a medical card or a prescription to access the CBD. THC is different because many people use it for recreational purposes.
THC gives people a euphoric feeling and relaxes their minds and bodies. Therefore, each strain has a different cannabinoid ratio in its composition. As a result, you will need a professional to determine the type of marijuana strain you will need for your condition.
What Do Cannabinoids Do to Our Bodies?
Usually, we have natural receptors in our brains that react to proteins and other molecules. The receptors are found in our central nervous system and peripheral systems.
Cannabinoids also bind to these receptors in our brains and the rest of our bodies. Typically, there are two types of receptors: the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The THC that causes the euphoric feeling binds to the CB1 receptors. On the other hand, the CBD cannabinoid binds to the CB2 receptors. There are also different cannabinoids that attach to the two receptors, but we will not dig into details today.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is made up of different receptor cells that are connected to our central nervous system and the peripherals. The system is also connected to the stomach, muscles, kidneys, and other end organs.
The endocannabinoid system is a part of our body nervous system. We naturally produce cannabinoids and endocannabinoids regardless of whether we smoke cannabis. The CB1 and CB2 receptors found in different parts of our bodies make up the ECS.
Cannabinoids and endocannabinoids bind to our receptors to help manage different body functions. These processes include:
- Appetite and digestion:
- Motor control
- Inflammations and immune responses
- Memory and learning
- Cardiovascular system
- Muscle formation
- Bone growth and health
- Reproductive system/fertility
- Skin and nerve function
Generally, ECS helps our body to perform the homeostasis process. ECS helps our bodies perform the regular functions that we require to live in simpler terms.
Health Benefits of Cannabinoids
Scientists are still studying the ECS and the effects of cannabinoids on our bodies. They are also actively looking into the different strains and their cannabinoids’ composition. However, some research has discovered that:
- They help reduce pain.
- They increase a person’s appetite and also reduce weight.
- It also improves sleep for people with insomnia.
- It reduces nausea and vomiting.
- It also reduces muscle spasticity.
There are different ways that cannabinoids affect our ECS system. The entourage effect is among them. The entourage effect is a mechanism by which THC collaboratively works with other different cannabis compounds to regulate the psychoactive effects. However, we cannot talk more about this because scientists are still researching this effect.
Finally, we have seen the meaning of cannabinoids and how these molecules attach to our receptors and cause mental and physical effects. We now know that there are different strains of the cannabis plant that contain different compositions of cannabinoids.
We also know how cannabinoids work by controlling our overall body functions through our ECS, which led us to understand that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids occur naturally in our bodies. You can book an appointment with a doctor or a marijuana centre to learn more about the different strains.