Nowadays many are asking What are Cannabinoids? They are right to ask this question though. This is probably happening because of the rising popularity in certain cannabinoids like CBD. What they are, forms the cusp of discussion here. We talk their purpose, how they do it – whatever they do, and things like where they come from. We briefly go into the little details of these cannabinoids, and why they are important to us.
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The use of cannabinoids can be dated back to the Asian and Far Eastern Folktales. To the western world, it was introduced through the works of Irish scientist Sir William B. O’Shaughnessy. People in the west of the 18thCentury had no idea of the Cannabinoids. He was an Irish physician working in the city of Calcutta, India, when he did his research. Sir William was the one to introduce anything related to cannabinoids in the 19thCentury to all of the public. His seminal work on the cannabis research had led to the benefits of cannabis use in the world and all around the world, and since then there has been a lot of research on this kind of subject matter.
Cannabinoids in detail:
The word cannabinoids refer to the chemical substances that have the affinity of the cannabinoid receptors found in our body, in the Endocannabinoid System. The endocannabinoid system, or in short ECS has a range of different cannabinoids scattered throughout the body.
These cannabinoids can come from different places. Many of them like anandamide can come from inside the body. These are created from precursor lipids that are created by the neurons in the brain. These type of cannabinoids are called Endocannabinoids, hence the name of the system. There are also Exo-Cannabinoids, and these come from outside the body. These can be classified into two separate groups: phytocannabinoids and Synthetic Cannabinoids.
Phytocannabinoids are plant-based, and this is where cannabis comes in. Phytocannabinoids are chemicals compounds like Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Before we go into Synthetic Cannabinoids, there are some things that you should know about CBD and THC, as it is vital to know about.
Today, CBD and THC are two of the most renowned cannabinoids in the industry. They are revered for their therapeutic effects for the user. Though there is a subtle difference between them, and that changes the way that a user can feel. THC is essentially psychoactive. This means that it can alter the mind in an intoxicating way. CBD, on the other hand, gives therapeutic effects, along with the treatment of specific ailments. The high makes the THC popular, and the therapeutic effect of the CBD without any high makes CBD very popular. Different species of cannabis have both of these. CBD and THC can be found in equal amounts, but both of these can be in different quantity. The one with the higher amount in a species will have a powerful effect on the user. One of these can also be low or completely absent from a species of the cannabis plant. CBD is predominant in a species of cannabis like the hemp plant, and THC can be seen in the likes of marijuana.
There is one other classification that pertains to different exo-cannabinoids. And these are the synthetic cannabinoids. The main difference between this one and the others is that this one is created in a laboratory. Yes, you heard that right, as cannabinoids can also be created artificially. One of the most notable examples of this cannabinoids is the artificially created dronabinol, which is used in different medicines in the world, especially the ones that treat nausea, vomiting, loss of weight, and loss of appetite. Another example of this class of cannabinoids is the nabilone. This one used in medicine called CESAMET®. This one is used in medicinal treatments like chemotherapy. Both of them has been allowed for sale in the UK, USA or countries like Switzerland.
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Synthetic cannabinoids like these are used in smart drugs that mimic the effects of cannabis plants. Drugs like these are called, and have been given the name of “Spice.” Many say that synthetic cannabinoids are ideal for human consumptions as they were invented for research and active-ingredients for things like medicine. Their raw use can make or cause distress to or for the user, and in some case can also cause panic, which can be even more so, than what you can see in phytocannabinoids.
This essentially tells you what are cannabinoids.
So, how do they work?
Before going into how do the cannabinoids work, one needs to know how an endocannabinoid system works. You see the endocannabinoid system works as a spread out system of cannabinoids and cannabinoids receptors throughout the body, especially in the peripheral and the central brain systems.
The cannabinoid receptors found in this system can control the neurotransmission of the neurotransmitter that is located in the body. This neurotransmission that is found in the ECS helps with tasks like motor coordination, mood, regulation of sleep, pain, and memory.
The receptors found in the system are sort of like key and a lock, where the receptor acts a lock, and the cannabinoid, in this case, acts as a key, It is only when, the lock is opened the neuron allows the neurotransmission that can be related to different tasks that bear their responsibility to the ECS system. Take a load of that.
As mentioned before, the neurons found in our brain can create their own cannabinoids. Hence they are called endocannabinoids. These can sort of act as a dimmer knob for the neuron as a way to control the transmission of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. A neurotransmitter goes from one end of another neuron to the other end of another neuron (This place is called a synapse, and this process is called synaptic transmission) where the neurotransmitter from one of a neuron (the axon terminal of it) goes on to attach to the receiving end called dendrite, where they have their own receptor. One they go on the receptors tells the receiving neuron to either initiate a negative or positive response. This in turn, in culmination with other neurons begins or inhibits a body process.
So, where do cannabinoids come in all this and is it related to the subject at hand: What are cannabinoids. Well, the endocannabinoids can be used by the body itself for optimizing the body processes, like inhibiting excessive dopamine production (which can have beneficial or detrimental effects depending on where it is going on). The phytocannabinoids like CBD can also be used for all-out beneficial purposes.
There are two kinds of cannabinoid receptors – The CB1 (found in different parts of the brain) and CB2 (found in parts like tonsils and spleen), respectively. Both of these do not have the affinity for CBD, though. Endocannabinoid like anandamide (the bliss molecule) or phytocannabinoid like THC can cling to CB1 and CB2. This THC produces its high, and anandamide provides a reduction of stress and anxiety and increases better mood overall by regulating it. This is why it is called the bliss molecule, and this one also improves motivation.
Phytocannabinoid like the CBD though does its work and magic on the endocannabinoid system, indirectly. What it does is, cling on the receptors of neurons that create Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH). This acid inhibits the production of anandamide and similar endocannabinoids like it. This molecule or moreover endocannabinoid anandamide, as mentioned before helps with motivation and pleasure. So, when CBD clings to the neurons that produce FAAH, it substantially inhibits it from secreting this acid. This means the inhibition of the anandamide stops, and therefore it increases motivational, and pleasurable feelings while reducing the effects of stress and anxiety. It is the brain’s antidepressant, and CBD here helps them release in much more success and great ease. So, if someone asks What are cannabinoids, and which one is the best of them, then you should say its CBD.
Other popular cannabinoids:
Aside from synthetic cannabinoids described above, endocannabinoid-like anandamide, and phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC, there are others too. Just have a look:
There is one called Cannabinol (CBN). This one neither synthetic in its make-up, it is neither endogenous or nor it is directly derived from a plant like cannabis. This is because this one is not created by any biological processes related to any of the cannabinoid classifications. CBD is created from the improper storage of THC. It can happen when too much light or heat exposure can change the genetic makeup of THC. This one has antibacterial properties, anticonvulsant properties, and it also increases appetite.
Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is another one. This one primarily activates the CB1 receptors found in the brain. This one can be quickly metabolized after its and can be quickly available on demand. These have a natural tendency to minimize the damage that can affect the brain. Perhaps, this is why 2-AG is seen in people with Alzheimer’s or stroke. This also plays a role in certain neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries.