What are Cannabinoids and Their Effects?
Cannabinoids refer to the group of chemical messengers that exist in two different forms: endogenous or exogenous, such as compounds derived from the plant itself.
Exogenous Cannabinoids also known as Phytocannabinoids :
Phytocannabinoids, such as CBD and THC for example, are chemical compounds derived from either hemp or marijuana, which are both subspecies of the genus Cannabis Sativa (not to be confused with common parlance of strains of marijuana, such as sativa or indica). There are over 120 of these compounds within the cannabis plant, and over 700 total compounds including terpenes and flavonoids.
Key Cannabinoids and their Effects
1. Cannabidiol (CBD): is an antagonist, with a low binding affinity at CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD is unique in that it has been shown to inhibit FAAH in mice, which can allow Anandamide (or THC) to act on the receptors longer. Some of the most well-known physiologic effects of CBD include:
- Neuroprotective and Anticonvulsant
2. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a partial agonist for both CB1 and CB2 and is largely responsible for the neurological effects noted with cannabis use. Some of the most notable physiologic effects of THC include:
- Appetite stimulant/Anti-emetic (works peripherally and centrally)
- Promotes sleep
3. THCa and CBDa: These compounds are found in the raw plant with THCa being the most common cannabinoid found in marijuana and CBDa being the most common cannabinoid found in the hemp plant. These molecules are less studied than CBD and THC but emerging data indicate that the acids (CBDa and THCa) have significant potential physiologic and therapeutic effects.
Some of the physiologic effects of THCa and CBDa include:
- Anti-inflammatory (COX-2 Inhibition)
These acids precursors (e.g., CBDa converts to CBD and THCa converts THC when exposed to heat) must be stored and handled carefully to prevent rapid conversion to their neutrals, especially in the case of THCa which, upon conversion, would add THC and potential psychoactivity to an otherwise non-psychoactive product.