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Cannabinoids are now becoming more widely-known, thanks to the growing attention on cannabis, and how the human body reacts to this plant. Due to the fact that cannabis is has been legalised in many parts world, either medically or recreationally, more people are beginning to find interest in learning more about what it can do to the body and how it can offer them benefits.
This is where cannabinoids come into the picture. Cannabinoids are a crucial part of the “cannabis story”, without them, our body would not be able to react to the plant, or be able to benefit from it either. This takes us to why it is so important to understand cannabinoids— what they are and how they work in our body.
Cannabinoids, however, do not only play a big role in how the body reacts to cannabis, but also are crucial for a large number of the bodies functions to work properly. So, to help you understand more about cannabinoids, and the role they play in the body’s health we will be sharing with you all the answers to the most asked questions about cannabinoids so that you can become an expert in no time.
What are Cannabinoids?
The word “cannabinoids” does not refer to only one substance, but every chemical substance that joins the cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain, and that cause similar effects to those produced by the plant Cannabis Sativa L. At this point, to understand more about what cannabinoids are, you need to know what cannabinoid receptors are.
Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, and are what cannabinoids bind to signal the brain and cause it to “take effect”. There are 2 main receptors: CB1 receptors which are found mostly in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors which are found in the peripheral nervous system (mostly in immune cells). So, any type of chemical substance that is capable of binding to these receptors, either CB1 or CB2 is considered a cannabinoid.
The Diversity of Cannabinoids
As explained above, there isn’t only one type of cannabinoid. There is a diversity of cannabinoids, and each is unique in its own way. Each of these cannabinoids can be classified and categorized in very specific ways. However, there is a useful way to understand the categories of cannabinoids. Here are the 3 main “types”...
Phytocannabinoids - These types of cannabinoids are characterised by 21 carbon atoms, which are only found naturally in the Cannabis Sativa L plant. There have been around 70 phytocannabinoids found— with one of the most popular and widely-studied being Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Endocannabinoids - These cannabinoids are produced by almost every organism in the animal kingdom. They are produced by human and animal organisms and are the endogenous ligands of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)... Find out more about the ESC below.
Synthetic Cannabinoids- This category of cannabinoids are fully synthetic, and are created fully in the laboratory. A good example is synthetic THC, which is used in medications.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
You may be wondering why there is now yet another complicated word brought in to the equation— “endocannabinoid system”. However, once again, understanding the endocannabinoids system (also known as the ECS), will allow you to become even more of a cannabinoid expert.
The ECS is a complex cell-signalling system that is active in the body, and that plays a primary role in regulating a range of processes and functions. It is actually responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body or keeping stability in the inertness environment of the body.
This vital system in our bodies plays an important role in regulating processes such as mood, appetite, memory, sleep and even reproduction and fertility. It is also responsible for inflammation and immune system responses, motor control, skin and nerve function and muscle formation.
For the ECS to function, there are 3 core components that “keep it going”— enzymes, receptors and of course, endocannabinoids. These, as mentioned above, are the category of Cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body.
So, for this vital system in our body to function correctly, cannabinoids are essential. And now, you too can call yourself an expert on cannabinoids, how they function, and how they make our body keep its stability.