Until recently, we didn’t quite know what cannabinoids were, and now talk of these cannabis-derived chemical compounds is everywhere. Scientists knew about cannabinoids and that some are made by the body (endocannabinoids) and others by plants (phytocannabinoids), but it wasn’t until 1988 that the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered. Now we know that humans rely heavily on cannabinoids just to function.
Without cannabinoids, humans would have a hard time mitigating pain, fighting infection, regulating mood, digesting, and performing just about every bodily function. You name it, and cannabinoids probably play some part. They do this by acting on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain.
When scientists discovered that the phytocannabinoids in cannabis mimicked the endocannabinoids produced by the human body, it opened a new perspective on marijuana as medicine.
There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.
Here are some of the more common cannabinoids:
The most notable cannabinoid and the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Among its many superpowers is the capability to manage pain from neuropathic disorders, chemotherapy, and chronic inflammation.
Another significant component of the plant, CBD is known to relieve inflammation and regulate emotions without causing euphoria, anxiety, panic or brain fog. CBD can help balance the psychoactive effects of THC or, isolated, be used as a daytime medicine or a safe treatment for children and pets.
A powerful anti-inflammatory and sleep aid, CBN is not naturally occurring in the cannabis plant until the plant material becomes old, degraded or oxidized. That’s right; there’s still a use for old, forgotten bud.
Another example of a cannabinoid that does not occur in raw cannabis, CBL develops when cannabichromene (another cannabinoid worth knowing) is metabolized by the liver or degraded by light. It shows promise in treating inflammatory skin conditions, like acne.
Not to be confused with THC, THCV is a neutral antagonist. It’s too early in THCV testing, but some researchers believe it to be useful in appetite suppression, reducing muscle tremors, and blocking panic attacks.