To get a better understanding of how CBD products function, we need to start with their source. We have assembled this Beginner’s Guide To Cannabinoids to help you navigate the landscape of CBD.
You may have heard CBD referred to by its more scientific name, cannabidiol, and wondered what this term refers to. Well, as it turns out, cannabidiol is actually one of over 100 phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants (1).
Phytocannabinoids belong to a larger group of compounds known as cannabinoids. In short, phytocannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant (we’ll get to that in a moment!). These chemical compounds run through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies, altering the neurotransmitter release in our brains.
This is how a cannabinoid such as CBD can reportedly help with things such as pain and anxiety. It can literally impact our neurological response to these things. There are so many different classifications and variations of individual cannabinoids, it’d be tough to get a handle on all of them. So we’ve decided to give you a brief and basic rundown of the groups they primarily operate under.
This group of cannabinoids comes from the cannabis plant specifically. They’re mostly concentrated in the hairy outgrowths of the plant, known as the glandular trichomes. It’s true that phytocannabinoids do appear in some other types of plants. However, researchers have identified 113 that are exclusively in the cannabis plant.
CBD, for example, is one of the primary phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis growers can shift the phytocannabinoid levels in cannabis plants so they have higher or lower levels of CBD and other compounds. Different strains will also contain different levels of phytocannabinoids and their numbers will also vary.
These cannabinoids are actually cannabinoid receptors in the bodies of humans and animals. Endocannabinoids don’t have anything to do with plants per se but rather the ECS itself. They’re similar to phytocannabinoids in some ways, but they’re produced by the body.
The real concept behind endocannabinoids is that they keep your internal functions running properly. The ECS, which is a cell-signalling system, manages a range of different bodily functions. This includes sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility, for starters.
Two primary endocannabinoids that researchers have identified are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). It’s still uncertain what the ideal levels of these endocannabinoids should be in the body. However, we produce them as needed to maintain regular functions.
This group of cannabinoids, as you may have already guessed, are synthetic and man-made. They bind to cannabinoid receptors the same way as a phytocannabinoid such as CBD would. In the past, you may have heard of synthetic marijuana being used as an alternative to smoking plant-based marijuana. It was discovered later that this could reportedly cause severe side effects.
People who consume products with synthetic cannabinoids may experience a rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Clinical testing for humans has never been reliable as a result. This is why products including synthetic cannabinoids are a constant subject of controversy. We hope you have enjoyed our Mini Beginner’s Guide to Cannabinoids!
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