What are Cannabinoids
The term Cannabinoids (CB’s) refers to a specific group of chemical compounds found in plants and animals that interact, in a lock and key manner, with the abundance of cannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies.
This network of CB receptors, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), was first discovered in the 1980’s, following the discovery of the first phytocannabinoid, THC, in 1964 by Gaoni and Mechoulam in Israel.
Here is a link to understand more about our inbuilt endocannabinoid system, but in the most basic terms, it is the way our internal environment responds to external stimuli, stress, disease and trauma in an attempt to keep the body and biological systems balanced and working optimally.
There are currently 2 recognised cannabinoid receptors found in the body with a third being proposed. These receptors, or “locks”, only accept the right shaped cannabinoid “key”, which then triggers various chemical reactions to produce a range of healing responses within the body. Our bodies create our own cannabinoids named endocannabinoids (endo meaning within), but our internal ECS will also accept plant-derived cannabinoids called phytocannabinoids (pyhto meaning plant).
Phytocannabinoids are found almost exclusively in cannabis, along with an abundance of other beneficial compounds, but phytocannabinoids have also been discovered in a few other species including Echinacea, liverwort, and sunflowers.
It is interesting to note that there are other plant compounds able to catalyse responses from our CB receptors, such as those found in lichens, copaiba and black pepper, which have resulted in the definition of phytocannabinoids to include any plant compound that interacts with our inbuilt cannabinoid receptors.
Science has currently discovered five endo-cannabinoids that are part of our incredibly complex endocannabinoid system, helping to regulate an enormous range of systems and communication networks throughout the body. Now, after years of research, it is universally accepted that the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis can help to activate, support and balance this internal cannabinoid system, instigating a wide range of healing responses and offering much relief including pain management, our immune system, digestion, appetite, memory, hormonal regulation, bone growth, inflammatory reactions, inhibition of tumour cells, motor function and even protection of neural tissue and stimulates neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells).
The cannabis plant offers a veritable cornucopia of beneficial compounds, over 700 biologically active cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and terpenoids have been identified that all work synergistically to potentiate their respective therapeutic attributes.
From these many health-nurturing compounds it is the phytocannabinoids that hold the greatest interest for researchers around the globe as medical science awakens to the vital role of our ECS in supporting optimal health and warding off disease.
According to the latest research published in 2016. Over 200phytocannabinoids have been discovered in cannabis, but the majority of these are produced in miniscule amounts or are the breakdown products of other primary cannabinoids.
It is now universally accepted that these phytocannabinoids are mainly or fully synthesised and stored in glandular trichomes, which are tiny hair like structures found on the cannabis flowers.
These structures secrete a viscous resin rich in cannabinoids, Terpenes and other compounds, which give each species their unique aroma. It is this unique chemical profile of cannabinoids and Terpenes working in concert that gives each chemovar, or strain, its own unique healing and psychoactive effects.
Extensive medical Research & studies, linked below and throughout our site, indicate that supplementation with phytocannabinoids can help redress imbalances in the ECS, and many are finding relief from a variety of debilitating conditions by doing so.
We highly recommend that you do your own research by simply putting “cannabinoids and ‘enter name of medical condition’” into your favourite search engine to access thousands of studies and clinical trials from across the globe.
So now that we know that nature offers us the keys to literally ‘turn on’ our immune system and many other beneficial biological responses, let’s look at the most well recognised and researched cannabinoids or CB’s.
The acronym CBD actually refers to just one molecule found in the cannabinoid family – cannabidiol. CBD is one of the most researched cannabinoids and has been clinically proven to aid in cases of anxiety, psychosis, inflammation, motor control and in the alleviation of neuropathic pain, but Science has now discovered there are many other cannabinoids or CB’s that also offer valuable therapeutic support.