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If you would like to learn more about cannabinoids and plant compounds, then welcome! In this article, we're here to cover everything about cannabinoids: what they are, how they're made, and the most important ones to know. It's an amazingly interesting topic when you break it down. Even though it's packed full of big words, you don't need to be a top scientist to comprehend what cannabinoids are, and what potential benefits they can bring to your daily wellness routine. As well as breaking down the definitions of important terms, we will also take a look at some of the major cannabinoids. Certainly not all of them though, as at least 113 cannabinoids have been identified! Of course, there has been much more research into some than others. Not to mention, we will also examine the positive ways that your newfound knowledge can impact your daily healthy lifestyle routine. So, what are you waiting for? Dive in and find all of the relevant information you will ever need about cannabis-derived compounds.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids can be considered to be a natural messenger for the body. They all fall into one of two categories, either 'endogenous' or 'exogenous.' The term endogenous stems from 'endo,' meaning that the body creates these cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). They are vital, as they interact with our cannabinoid receptors (collectively known as the endocannabinoid system) to control the body's functions such as pain, sleep, mood and appetite. Conversely, exogenous cannabinoids originate from outside the body. They are usually found in cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. When these cannabinoids are consumed, they interact with the body, subsequently producing psychological and physical effects.
This is where the endocannabinoid system (ECS) really comes in. The ECS is made up of a series of cell receptors that respond to particular types of agonists. Cannabinoid receptors respond to certain cannabinoids, and this allows them to react differently when they come into contact. The cell receptors CB1 and CB2 can be considered the main receptors, as they play the most significant part in the overall functions of the ECS. They were the first to be discovered by researchers, and therefore the majority of studies revolve around them.
Our ECS is something that we should definitely appreciate, as it can help balance our body in a number of positive ways. There are plenty of complex definitions out there, so let's break down what an endocannabinoid is, and what purpose they serve. Endocannabinoids are the endogenous ligands of the cannabinoids CB1 and CB2. A ligand is a protein that attaches to another protein, called a receptor. Endogenous ligands, as endocannabinoids, are naturally produced inside the body. Receptors and endocannabinoids then work as a team to trigger signals that influence cell development and function. In comparison to other biological molecules that get stored up to be used later on, endocannabinoids are made only when they are needed for something. So, how are they created? Well, they are derived from fatty molecules that are located inside cell membranes. If we consider our body to work like a well-oiled machine, then endocannabinoids are a crucial part of the oil that keeps the engine running.
There is a growing body of research that supports the role of endocannabinoids in the regulation of many diseases and physiological conditions. We will take a more in-depth look into these studies later on.
Yes, another big word, but it has a simple explanation. So, what is homeostasis? Homeostasis derives from the Greek words for 'same' and 'steady', and this links to the idea of maintaining stable living conditions necessary for survival. The aim of many of our biological functions is to achieve homoeostasis, as this is your body's way of attaining physiological balance. Both our internal and external changes can help bring the body back into a state of homeostasis. Let's think about this term in a fun way. Take your morning cup of coffee as an example. You would only drink it when it was the right sipping temperature – not too hot to burn your mouth, but not too cold either. It needs to be the correct temperature – just like your body. As we have already discussed, cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant work with our body in specific ways, and when they interact with the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system, they help us to maintain homeostasis.
To provide a brief history of the term, in 1865, French physiologist Claude Bernard originally proposed the concept of 'milieu interieur,' or the internal environment, but the discussion around his idea was rather abstract. In 1926, the physician Walter Cannon built on Bernard's idea of an internal environment and 'notion of constancy', before coining the term 'homeostasis.' Cannon's book, 'The Wisdom of the Body', discusses how the human body maintains steady conditions within the body, such as sugar, water, protein and the oxygen contents of the blood.
It's an important concept to get your head around, as it remains one of the most important regulatory physiological mechanisms. Fun fact: in 2007, a gathering of twenty-one biologists agreed that 'homeostasis' was one of eight core concepts in biology. Its importance was then reaffirmed in 2009 in a report by the American Association of Medical Colleges and Howard Hughes Medical.
There has been a great deal of research into homeostasis and ECS thus far. A scientific paper published in 2008 outlines it's potential and explains the role the endocannabinoid system plays in homeostasis, and its benefits and involvement in a number of biological functions and causes of medical conditions; for example, metabolism, feeding, emotional memory, pain, and inflammation.
How are cannabinoids made?
This is a commonly asked question among cannabinoid-curious people like yourself. So, we will answer it here. If you examine the cannabis flower, then you will notice some pretty-looking translucent shapes. The scientific term for these is 'glandular trichomes', and they are responsible for producing terpenes (aromatic molecules) and cannabinoids. The cannabis plant is a brilliant old thing, as it has the power to transfer all of the needed nutrients to these glands. To be more specific, these nutrients head on over to the secretory cells, where production can then begin. It's from here that they turn into trichomes, before they are excreted, which is when we see them on the leaves and flowers of the plant.
What are the major cannabinoids?
We could write a book on all of the cannabinoids that have been discovered so far, but who has that kind of time? So, instead, we're going to break down all of the most significant cannabinoids you really need to know about. We will also outline their benefits, and the research done into each of them.
Whether you're a cannabis enthusiast or not, there's no way you haven't heard of THC. Perhaps you could even argue that it's the most famous cannabinoid, more so than CBD! This chemical is the one responsible for producing a 'high', as it can generate a psychoactive effect. This is due to the interaction it has with the CB1 receptor found in your central nervous system.
However, its uses can also contribute to your health and well-being routine. There have been numerous studies on the potential benefits of THC, and it's worth covering them now. Its anti-inflammatory benefits were demonstrated as far back as 1991, where a study found that THC proved to be a potent anti-inflammatory that potentially supersedes the effects of aspirin. There have since been further studies into its anti-inflammatory effects, and it could therefore be considered helpful as a part of your wellness routine if you find yourself suffering from inflammation of any kind.
Pain is something we all have to deal with; for some, it occurs more often than others, as many people have to cope and manage living with chronic pain. Studies into THC as a pain reliever have given vital insight into some people's well-being. You see, THC can help when it comes to managing pain, as well as increasing your appetite and improving muscle stiffness. A study that took place in 2018 correlated the link between THC oil and pain relief in patients who have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Yet, due in part to its psychoactive effects, THC is still a highly-debated substance and is controlled (if not outright illegal) in most countries and states. Many CBD products can contain THC in small amounts, however, as it is thought to enhance the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids through the 'entourage effect'.
Buckle up – there's a wealth of research into CBD and its potential balancing effects on both the body and the mind. For those of you out there that want to be formal, its full name is Cannabidiol. It is a safe and non-psychoactive compound, and (significantly) it can help to neutralise the psychoactive effects of THC. It is a plant with a long history behind it, as it was first used as a medicine thousands of years ago, and contemporary scientists are beginning to show great interest in it once more. CBD has gained its popularity through the many potential benefits it can have, such as pain relief, lessening of inflammation and even skin-moisturising benefits, to name just a few.
We will now take a look at the range of scientific examples relating to the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD. In this day and age, it's just as important to take care of our mental health as it is our physical well-being. As early as 2009, a research review reported that 'both clinical and preclinical data argue that cannabinoid receptor signalling may be a realistic target in the development of a novel class of agent for the pharmacotherapy of mood and anxiety disorders', thanks to the growing body of research (basically, CBD shows promise when it comes to lifting mood and relieving certain symptoms of anxiety). A more up-to-date review was then published in 2014, that reinforces this by examining a series of studies on rats and mice. Stress tests were performed on the animals, such as a forced swimming test, and they suggest that CBD shows promise as a potential antidepressant and anti-anxiety treatment, when imposed upon animal models.
If you have suffered from acne at any point in your life, then you're certainly not alone. It's an extremely common (yet incredibly distressing) skin condition, and it can have a serious negative impact on our mental health. A study conducted in 2014 explored the effects of CBD on human sebaceous (skin) gland function. It determined that 'CBD behaves as a highly effective sebostatic agent' due to its functions as an inhibitor. They concluded that 'CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris.'
A study published in 2016 demonstrated that CBD might also be a viable treatment option for neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as social anxiety disorders. The study concluded that the data they gathered from animal tests indicated the anti-inflammation effects of CBD during adolescence could be a novel treatment for autism or social anxiety disorders.
There's a massive volume of scientific research into the potential benefits of CBD. The studies that we have selected here are a mere snapshot of what's out there.
Cannabidivarin, more commonly known as CBDV, is one of the most similar cannabinoids to CBD, in terms of its structure. This cannabinoid has a vast range of potential therapeutic benefits, and it's fascinating to examine the growing body of research surrounding it. For example, numerous studies have been undertaken regarding the link between CBDV and the alleviation of nausea. Nausea is a symptom of a number of medical conditions, such as Crohn's disease, epilepsy and MS. For example, one animal study published in 2013 found that the compounds THCV and CBDV have therapeutic potential in reducing nausea. There has also been promising research into CBDV as an anticonvulsant. A study published in 2013 is a crucial example of such research, as it concludes CBDV was shown to exert significant anticonvulsant effects in multiple types of seizures that were not fully controlled by the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. Consequently, the findings support the possibility of the further clinical development of CBDV as a treatment for epilepsy.
Cannabidivarin acid, also known as CBDVA, is the acidic form of CBDV. Similar to the previous molecules discussed, it is a non-psychoactive substance, and purportedly carries anti-inflammatory properties. This cannabinoid has been studied for approximately a decade by scientists, and yet little is known about its potential benefits or chemical properties. Before looking into any possible balancing benefits of CBDVA, a considerable body of research is needed.
Cannabigerol, or simply CBG, is another member of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid family. It can be mainly found in hemp products. CBG can be converted to CBN, THC and CBD, and interestingly CBG has been recognised as the principal compound in certain rare chemical profiles. This is a cannabinoid with a wealth of research behind it, primarily examining its potential of therapeutic effects on the body. For example, a 2014 study found that CBG has the potential of inhibiting colon cancer progression, with the implication that CBG could be considered 'translationally' in future prevention and possible treatments.
There have also been studies and experiments concerning CBG, glaucoma, and the manner in which CBG reduces intraocular pressure. There's also a fascinating body of research into its potential neuroprotective properties. For example, a study published in 2017 concluded that CBG is successful as a neuroprotective against inflammation-driven neuronal (brain) damage. All these studies have been backed up on an experimental level, thus paving the way for new and more in-depth medical research. Studies on humans are necessary in order to establish the correct dosage and to identify any possible side effects. Enhanced cultivation methods are being explored, and this makes CBG more accessible. This, in turn, means that more regular trials and studies can take place as a result.
You won't find CBN naturally-occurring within the trichomes of the cannabis plant, as it's created through oxidising THC. You see, once THC has been kept in storage long-term and exposed to heat or light, it will break down. CBN, or cannabinol, is the result of this. It was actually first considered to be the compound that contributed to THC's psychoactive qualities before more research was done into the matter. There's certainly more research to be done into this cannabinoid in terms of its potential balancing effects, as well as its chemical profile. There have been studies into the benefits of CBN and skin conditions, such as psoriasis. This is due to its anti-inflammatory qualities and psoriasis being deemed to be an inflammatory disease also partially characterised by the overproduction of cells in the upper layer of skin. The study concludes that CBN shows great promise when it comes to the possibility of using cannabinoids in connection with psoriasis treatments.
Furthermore, there have also been studies on the potential neuroprotective benefits of CBN. A rodent study looked at CBN as a treatment for the condition ALS. They concluded that, in the rodents, CBN might delay the onset of the disease by two weeks or more, even though it didn't alter their ultimate chances of survival. More research is certainly warranted when it comes to assessing the potential effects of non-intoxicating cannabinoids on ALS. While human trials have yet to take place, this is a promising start. CBN may also be an antibacterial agent, as one lab study found. The study was based around strains of MRSA bacteria that can't be fought off with traditional antibiotics. It was discovered that CBN acted as an antibacterial agent, and it was able to fight off these resistant strains of bacteria.
As you may have guessed Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV for short, is similar to THC. The only difference between them lies in THCVs interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors. THCV interacts with the CB2 receptor and holds some similarities to it. When it comes to interactions with the CB1 receptor, its behaviour fluctuates. In higher doses, it can activate the CB1 receptor and therefore becomes an agonist, producing a real biological response within our body.
However, low doses of THCV can block the activity of the receptor. This begs the question: is THCV psychoactive? The answer is yes, but it's effects are not as clear-cut as THC. Low doses of THCV have potential balancing effects for the body, prompting it to be a possible addition to our well-being routine. In terms of scientific research thus far, studies have found that THCV is capable of suppressing appetite. In animal studies, it has aided in the weight loss of obese mice. In addition to this, like many of the other cannabinoids on our list, THCV is regarded as having potential anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant effects.
This cannabinoid is synthesised inside the trichomes of cannabis plants. To transform it into THC, either degradation or heat is used. THCA itself is a non-psychoactive compound, and it's fairly weak when it comes to stimulating the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
This cannabinoid holds a particular area of interest for researchers, even though research is in its infancy. There's a lot more to examine, but the results have been both exciting and encouraging so far. Preliminary investigations into THCA have shown its potential neuroprotective effects, as well as an anti-inflammatory. Take one 2017 study as an example, where research was undertaken into the inflammation of colon tissue. The scientists concluded that THCA actually provided better anti-inflammatory effects than CBD. A 2013 study examined its potential anti-nausea effects. This animal study demonstrated that nausea in rats was significantly lessened in comparison to when THC was used. This type of research demonstrates how vital both initial and further studies are into the lesser-known cannabinoids.
What's the future of cannabis research?
The future looks bright into further research on the different cannabinoids and their potential benefits. The studies that we have included are just a brief overview of everything that's out there, and new studies and perspectives are regularly being undertaken. If you would like to discover more, then we encourage you to do your own research. It's exciting to think about what the future holds when it comes to the future of cannabinoids, especially those we have yet to discover and appreciate the way we do CBD.
How can I improve my lifestyle with cannabinoids?
All of this scientific research and information is well and good, but how can it positively affect your daily life? It's so easy to reap the key benefits of CBD oil and hemp oil that you will wonder why you never tried it before! There's a variety of ways to consume these products, so you're bound to find one that suits you. You can opt for gummies, cream, oil, or vaping. All of these methods of CBD consumption are so simple and self-explanatory. An important point to make, though, is that vaping is a particularly viable option for you first-timers out there. It has no connection with consuming nicotine, or anything of the sort. It is also one of the fastest ways of absorbing CBD, meaning that you get to feel the benefits before everyone who opted for oils or edibles. This makes it the ideal solution for those of you that have a fast-paced wellness routine to fit around your on-the-go lives. Vaping CBD is also a great solution after your exercise session, because, as we have discussed above, there has been much research into CBD's possible effects on pain and muscle tightness. So, if your muscles are feeling sore after all your hard work, reach for the vape pen as your favoured method of consumption. Infused Amphora CBD vape oil is packed full of all the natural goodness that you would hope for.
When should I take CBD oil?
Well, the quick answer to this question is: whenever it fits into your health and wellness routine! That being said, it's great to establish some kind of CBD routine, as this way it's less likely that you'll forget to take it. This could mean incorporating it into your morning, for instance, you could make a CBD oil smoothie or porridge. This is a natural and healthy way to kick-start your morning. Other CBD oil lovers swear by consuming it at night-time before bed for a calm and stress-free sleep. Of course, if you opt to vape CBD, then you can do so whenever and wherever you wish! You could enjoy your vape while taking a break from work, or in the mornings with your coffee- there is a range of complementary flavours out there for you to try and incorporate into your wellness routine. The point we're trying to make here is that it doesn't matter where or when you take it – just as long as you do!
Now that you are armed with all of the relevant information surrounding cannabinoids and their potential benefits, we hope that you will use it to your advantage. By now, hopefully, you have the confidence you need to try CBD for the first time. It's important that we all try to live the healthiest lifestyle we can, and you would be right to take your daily wellness routine seriously. CBD oil can be an integral part of this routine, helping to bring your body and mind back into balance once more.
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributor | Angus Taylor CEO
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.