The science behind cannabis
The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) - also called the Endogenous Cannabinoid System - is the base behind scientific cannabis research. The ECS is one of the major nervous systems found in mammals. ECS regulates the body's natural homeostasis ensuring that all systems work in sync with one another. In the early 1960s, scientists successfully isolated and identified two phytocannabinoids, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) and two endocannabinoids, Anadamide and 2-AG.
The Endocannabinoid system is comprised of two main receptors CB1 (Cannabinoid Receptor 1) and CB2 (Cannabinoid Receptor 2). CB1 is mainly found in the central nervous system and CB2 is usually found in the immune and the peripheral nervous systems. Since these receptors are so abundant in the body, they play a crucial role at almost every level of optimal health, from controlling temperature to managing PH levels.
Cannabinoid Receptors 1 (CB1) and. Cannabinoid Receptors 2 (CB2) occur naturally in the body and interact with the body’s own endocannabinoids.
CB1 receptors are primarily located on nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. CB1 is also found in the spleen, endocrine gland, and parts of the reproductive system.
CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system, tonsils, and the spleen. In the immune system, the important function of CB2 is the regulation of cytokine release. This function is believed to have therapeutic roles in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Selective CB2 receptor agonists have also become increasingly popular subjects of research for their potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
Anandemide, an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter, which regulates, pleasure, motivation, and hunger. Anandemide appears naturally in the body and is commonly released after working out, it is responsible for the "runners high,” as well as the feeling of love and effects felt after eating chocolate. Anandemide is often called the “bliss molecule,” named after ananda, the Sanskrit word for “joy, bliss, or happiness.”
2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is another important endocannabinoid neurotransmitter that regulates the transmission of signals in the brain and interacts primarily with CB2 but, also has some effects on CB1. 2- AG reduces pain and acts as a mediator of inflammatory and immune reactions. In immune cells, 2-AG is produced in response to injury and reduces inflammation.
Endocannabinoid System and THC:
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THCa) is the most abundant cannabinoid. The plant itself does not actually create Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which provides the most psychoactive effects. Cannabis actually produces THCa, which does not become psychoactive until it’s property is changed usually by heat, dropping the acid compound to become Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC binds with with CB1 in the brain, causing a euphoric or “high” feeling in the same way the body’s own Anandemide causes euphoric effects. THC helps with a variety of symptoms and conditions such pain relief, stress, appetite, and nausea.
Endocannabinoid System and CBD:
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid. CBD (Cannabidiol) is a natural compound found in cannabis and interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol is non intoxicating, meaning it will not have a euphoric or "high" feeling but rather a calming relaxed effect.
CBD does not actually fit into either CB1 or CB2 receptors, rather it stimulates both receptors causing reactions and effects without binding. CBD facilitates growth of more receptors and increases the amount of endocannabinoids in the body. CBD has been used to treat epilepsy, inflammation, glaucoma, pain relief, sleep issues, and has anti-cancer properties.
“Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.” - Dr. Dustin Sulak
Types of cannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are endogenous neurotransmitters which are produced by the body and connect to cannabinoid receptors. There are two different types of cannabinoids, Phytocannabinoids and Synthetic Cannabinoids.
Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Phytocannabinoids are found in many other plants outside of the Cannabis species; like clove, black pepper, Echinacea, broccoli, ginseng, and carrots. The cannabinoids are formed through decarboxylation , a process which is catalyzed by heat.
Synthetic Cannabinoids are man made, mind-altering, chemicals that is commonly sprayed on dried plant like material and is consumed by smoking. Effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and severe possibly life-threatening. Due to chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products, effects commonly change from batch to batch.
Although most people have now heard of cannabadiol (CBD), it is only one of many cannabinoids in the ECS. Two other notable phytocannabinoids include: Cannabichromene and Cannabigerol. Cannabichromene (CBC) was first studied in the 1980s when it was found to modulate a normal inflammatory response. More recently CBC has been shown to promote brain health, skin health, and regulates the digestive system. Cannabigerol (CBG) is continuously being studied for its ability to support nervous system health. CBG also provides support for the immune system, skin health, and overall mood. CBG is typically found in much higher concentrations in industrial hemp than in cannabis. Both CBG and CBC are non intoxicating meaning you will not have a euphoria or "high" feeling.
With the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, cannabis research is at a all time high. Scientists are still making new discoveries about the endocannabinoid system and how it works with phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.