Understanding Cannabinoids and How They Affect Us

cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system

What are Cannabinoids?  

The cannabis plant produces a variety of compounds known as ‘Cannabinoids’ that fall into one of two categories: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are the naturally-occurring chemical compounds found in cannabis, while endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that exist naturally within the body. Anandamide was the first endocannabinoid to be discovered. Anandamide binds to the same receptor that THC acts on. THC and CBD are the two most well-known phytocannabinoids, however there are over 100 more cannabinoids that are lesser known but equally as important as THC and CBD. These lesser known cannabinoids can also influence the therapeutic effects you feel and the type of high you experience while consuming cannabis. 

Activation of Cannabinoids 

Cannabinoids are not fully active in the human body until they are decarboxylated, or “decarbed”. The acid form of these cannabinoids (THCA, CBDA, etc) are what exist before the plant is heated. Prior to activating the cannabinoid acids, these cannabinoids provide no intoxicating effects. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis to activate the cannabinoids, allowing them to bind to your receptors and cause therapeutic and/or intoxicating effects.

Product Labels 

cannabis product label
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With traditional pharmaceuticals, the active ingredients listed on the label are the compounds responsible for creating the desired effect, whether that be pain relief, allergy relief, sleep aid, etc. The active ingredients in cannabis products are the cannabinoids and terpenes – click here to learn more about terpenes. These cannabinoids can be found listed on cannabis product labels just like active ingredients on labels you may be more familiar with.

How Do Cannabinoids Work In The Body?

endocannabinoid system

Cannabinoids interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS); every human, regardless of if they have ever consumed cannabis or not, has an endocannabinoid system that helps maintain homeostasis in several processes such as, regulating sleep, mood, internal organ function, digestion, etc. There are 2 main cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system: the CB1 & CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system while CB2 receptors are found mostly in the peripheral nervous system. Cannabinoids, like THC, that bind to CB1 receptors are what cause intoxication effects, or that “high” feeling. Other cannabinoids that bind mostly to CB2 receptors have therapeutic benefits but no intoxicating effects. 

Most Common Cannabinoids Found in Cannabis

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THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most well-known cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and is responsible for providing the “high” effect cannabis is most known for. THC can attach to both your CB1 and CB2 receptors however THC primarily binds to the CB1 receptors which is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects felt while consuming cannabis. Some common effects of THC, when dosed properly, can include euphoria (high feeling), anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, appetite stimulation, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, and many more. 

 

CBD (Cannabidiol) is the second most well-known cannabinoid following THC. CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that can bind to receptor systems in your body that regulate pain perception, inflammation, and body temperature. The activity of CBD on the Endocannabinoid system is not fully understood yet however, we do know that CBD can actually lessen the adverse effects of THC, like memory impairment and anxiety. CBD can also help alleviate symptoms of depression, reduce pain and inflammation, and act as an anticonvulsant. 

 

CBN (Cannabinol) is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid and is the breakdown product of THC. Overtime, with exposure to oxygen, THC will slowly start to break down (oxidize) into CBN. If not stored properly, older cannabis flower will likely have higher contents of CBN. CBN can be used as a sleep aid or sedative. CBN also has anticonvulsant effects and may be beneficial to people suffering from seizures disorders. This cannabinoid has also been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation caused by conditions such as arthritis and Crohn’s Disease. 

 

CBG (Cannabigerol) is the “mother” of cannabinoids, meaning that CBG is the precursor to all other cannabinoids. This cannabinoid is non-psychoactive and reduces the potency of THC and other cannabinoids by blocking them from attaching to your endocannabinoid receptors. CBG works to fight inflammation, pain, nausea and works to slow the proliferation (growth/spread) of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Strains high in CBG will be beneficial treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and cancer. 

 

CBC (Cannabichromene) is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid that appears to interact with other cannabinoids to enhance their effectiveness through the entourage effect. We are still in the early stages of researching this minor cannabinoid but CBC appears to reduce pain and inflammation and has neuroprotective and mood elevating properties. CBC can be used to help relieve symptoms of Crohn’s disease, neuropathy, and chronic postoperative pain.

 

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) is a psychoactive cannabinoid known to produce feelings of alertness, motivation and euphoria.  You may have heard people call THCV “diet weed” because this cannabinoid  suppresses appetite and upregulates energy metabolism. THCV has also been shown to have neuroprotective properties, helping treat conditions like Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. 

The Entourage Effect 

While cannabinoids do produce effects on their own, their effects may be modulated in the presence of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. As discussed earlier, CBD and CBG can change how THC binds to our endocannabinoid receptors, lessening some of the effects THC alone may cause. This is known as the entourage effect; the idea that compounds in cannabis work in synergy to produce effects that they normally wouldn’t when isolated. So, while it is important to understand what cannabinoids are and how they affect us when isolated, it is important to keep in mind that these effects may change in presence of other cannabis compounds. The entourage effect may be difficult to study but more research to heighten our understanding of this synergy is being pursued every day. 

Knowledge is Power

Many cannabis brands are using this knowledge of cannabinoids and their functions to make specific cannabis formulations for a more ‘dialed-in’ experience. For example, cannabis products can be enhanced with isolated CBN to increase the sedative effects of cannabis to help people sleep better. Another example may be adding isolated CBC or CBD to cannabis products to increase the pain relieving effects of the product. Having an understanding of the different cannabinoids and their effects will allow consumers to shop for products that will be the most enjoyable or beneficial for their needs. 

 

We carry many brands at Quality Roots that we think do a really good job at using this knowledge to create cannabinoid specific products. 

Wyld

Wyld is a cannabis edible brand that is taking over the nation with their unique cannabinoid formulations. Wyld’s Blood Orange Sativa 1:1 CBC gummies are great for a day out and about or boosting creativity. These gummies may also be beneficial for reducing pain caused by inflammation more than traditional cannabis gummies. Wyld Strawberry Hybrid 20:1 CBD gummies are perfect for relaxing your body while keeping your mind sharp and alert. 

HIGH TeHC

HIGH TeHC is another brand that uses this cannabinoid knowledge as power and is currently the only cannabis edible brand that uses THCV in their gummies. The HIGH TeHC Kranberry Kick THC:THCV gummies are designed to support the body with extra focus, alertness and motivation without the crash of caffeine. The THCV in these gummies will also aid in suppressing the appetite to help fight “the munchies” commonly associated with THC use.

CHOICE

If you are looking for help with sleep, Choice Labs’ Cannabis PM gummies are the product for you. Choice labs came out with a whole cannabis edible brand focused on helping consumers get a good night’s rest. Cannabis PM gummies are made to help people fall asleep quickly, safely and without the edible hangover in the morning. They are made with a blend of sleep-enhancing terpenes and cannabinoids (CBN, CBD, and THC) to relax the mind and body to help bring on a gentle night’s rest. The flavors offered include Cherry Berry, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Kiwi, and Apple Pie.

You can find all of these products and more at the nearest Quality Roots location in your area. When you stop in, be sure to express your needs to our Quality Care Specialists and they will help you locate the best product for you!

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