Cannabinoids are chemical substances found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. While over 500 different molecules are present in the plant, there are 113 distinct cannabinoids isolated from cannabis. The delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (9-THC), the primary psychoactive element in cannabis, is the most well-known of these compounds. Another essential component is cannabidiol (CBD) which accounts for roughly 40% of the plant resin extract. There is a significant difference between the two cannabinoids. THC can get you high, whereas CBD produces anti-psychoactive effects that can control the THC-induced high.
Types Of Cannabinoids
Some of the active cannabinoids known for their therapeutic effects are:
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Cannabicyclol (CBL)
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
- Cannabitriol (CBT)
The classification of cannabinoids is primarily according to their level of psychoactivity. For instance, CBG, CBC, and CBD are non-psychoactive agents. But, THC, CBN, CBDL, and some other cannabinoids contain psychoactive content in varying degrees. CBD is the most prevalent active cannabinoid known for prominent properties, possibly counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC. When THC gets exposed to air, it oxidizes and forms CBN, which, in turn, interacts with THC to mitigate its impact.
Also Read: Does CBD Help With Blood Thinning?
Cannabinoids vs Endocannabinoids
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a cell-signaling system that modulates various bodily functions. It comprises three core components, including receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. Cannabinoids (exogenous compounds) and endocannabinoids (endogenous compounds) interact with ECS to boost its functioning. Here is a brief account of the vital aspects of ECS.
Your body naturally produces chemicals called endogenous cannabinoids. They are endocannabinoids similar to cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants.
Research shows that anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are crucial endocannabinoids. They contribute to the smooth operation of internal functions. Your body produces them naturally to adapt to changing conditions.
CB1 and CB2 are the two cannabinoid receptors found throughout your body. While CB1 is in the central nervous system, CB2 is present in the peripheral nervous system, specifically in immune cells.
Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors to signal that ECS needs to take action. The effects vary depending on the specific conditions of receptors. For example, endocannabinoids may target CB1 receptors in the spinal nerve to ease your pain. Others may attach to a CB2 receptor in your immune cells in response to inflammation.
Enzymes are responsible for the synthesis and breakdown of endocannabinoids. The two primary enzymes that perform their functions are:
- Fatty acid amide hydrolase (an enzyme that degrades AEA)
- Monoacylglycerol Acid Lipase (a digestive enzyme that breaks down 2-AG)
Upon demand, ECS releases endocannabinoids, but their effects do not last long. The enzymes swiftly degrade them and prompt the cells to reabsorb these compounds. Cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, have a significant role to play in preventing quick reabsorptions and resulting imbalances.
Cannabinoids For ECS Deficiency
Pain, inflammation, sleep, mood, hunger, memory, immunity, reproduction, and fertility are some of the biological activities that the ECS regulates. All of these functions help to maintain homeostasis. They contribute to providing stability in your internal environment. When an external factor, such as pain from an accident or a fever, disrupts homeostasis, the ECS jumps in to assist you in restoring balance.
However, the problem arises if your body has low endocannabinoid levels. ECS dysfunction can play a role in the onset of various medical conditions. A 2016 article suggests that endocannabinoid deficiency could be why people develop migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is no apparent reason for any of these ailments. They are generally resistant to treatment and sometimes occur alongside each other.
Cannabis compounds, specifically CBD, may ease endocannabinoid disruptions by facilitating receptor activity and inhibiting excess enzymes. CBD mimics the role of endogenous endocannabinoids and helps overcome the deficiency. Like CBD, THC can also address the challenges of endocannabinoid deficits. Though research on this perspective is still in its infancy, the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids are evident.
Medicinal Effects Of Cannabinoids
Cannabis, a plant packed with cannabinoids, is highly sought after by the medical community. More and more people now realize the health benefits associated with them. Let us discuss the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in detail.
Cannabinoids like CBD are ideal therapeutic agents for treating inflammatory and neuropathic pain. They attenuate pathological pain without causing psychotropic side effects and analgesic tolerance. According to a study report, CBD can enhance the body’s levels of anandamide, compounds attributed to regulating pain. Consequently, it can reduce pain sensation, limit inflammation, and improve mood.
Increasing evidence reveals the significance of medicinal cannabis, pharmaceutical cannabinoids, and their synthetic derivatives in psychiatric disorders. A recent study reviews the prospects for using phytocannabinoids for anxiety and depression. Researchers believe that THC and CBD have opposing effects. They recommend caution in using THC because it may increase the risk of psychosis. However, CBD appears to interact positively with serotonin receptors in the brain.
Overproduction of sebum could cause issues like acne and oily skin. According to a 2014 study, CBD acts as a highly effective sebostatic agent and helps regulate oil production. Besides this, the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties of CBD are prominent. It can help soothe inflammation, prevent free radical damage, and improve signs of aging. You can also use CBD for treating skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Due to these qualities, there is a tremendous demand for CBD skincare products across the nation.
Traditionally, people believed that cannabinoids worked well for acting on the central nervous system. However, recent findings suggest that they also exhibit significant therapeutic effects on cannabinoids and on the cardiovascular system. Both endocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids have been extensively researched and found to be effective in treating many heart diseases. Whether it is stroke, blood pressure, hypertension, or metabolic disorders, the role of cannabinoid compounds is significant.
Modulation of ECS by cannabinoids also influences various gastrointestinal processes. A preliminary study finds that CBD reduces intestinal inflammation without unwanted psychotropic effects.
The compound has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that help maintain digestive health. It triggers an inflammatory reaction in the body while also controlling cortisol levels. Moreover, it inhibits the synthesis of cytokines and interleukins. Eventually, it can help people with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), and bloating.
Conclusion On Therapeutic Effects Of Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids can address ECS imbalances and potentially help reverse endocannabinoid deficiency. They can even help with a few hard-to-treat medical conditions like cancer, dementia, and glaucoma. But, note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve cannabis for treating any disease. The agency only authorizes Epidiolex (cannabidiol), a cannabis-derived medication for seizures.
FDA permits three synthetic cannabis-related drug products-Marinol (dronabinol), Syndros (dronabinol), and Cesamet (nabilone). You can obtain these FDA-approved drugs only with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.