About the cannabis plant
Cannabis is a genus of plants belonging to the cannabacae family. Some consider the cannabis genus to comprise a single species: hemp (consisting of the subspecies Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis).
Cannabis – or hemp – is an aromatic herb with its origins in Central Asia, although it’s cultivated worldwide. It has been used for thousands of years for its strong fibers, nutritious seeds, multi-use oils, and medicinal qualities.
Many medical and industrial cannabis products are created from the plant’s strains, specifically bred to produce minimal levels of psychoactive compounds. These strains satisfy the UN Narcotics Convention guidelines and ensure that products are safe for consumption without unwanted side effects.
Estimates of upwards of 63,000 kilograms of cannabis are produced each year legally around the world. Recent interest in the health benefits of cannabis has led to an increase in global production. There are now an estimated 183 million cannabis users worldwide – a figure that increases year-on-year, mainly as mainstream healthcare professionals recognize the plant’s positives.
About the endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a complex biological cell-signaling mechanism within the body. It is composed of endocannabinoids, which are lipid-based neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors and cannabinoid receptor proteins found through the central and peripheral nervous systems.
While the endocannabinoid currently remains under preliminary research, it is thought to be involved in the regulation of various cognitive and physiological processes, including:
• Immune system activity
• Pain sensation
• Cognitive processing
The endocannabinoid system is active and exists within your body, even if you don’t use cannabis. It is complicated, and researchers have yet to determine how it functions entirely. However, belief suggests the ECS’s primary role is to maintain homeostasis or the stability of your body’s environment. For example, if an injury or illness affects your homeostasis, your endocannabinoid system starts operating to help your body return to its ideal operational levels.
It is believed that CBD interacts with the ECS by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. The interaction allows the endocannabinoids to have a much more significant effect on your body, thereby helping to reduce pain, nausea, and other symptoms.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are compounds that occur naturally within the cannabis plant. There are almost 500 different compounds within the plant, although only 66 can be considered actual cannabinoids. These compounds interact with specific cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells within the human body and are found in different nervous system areas. The two main types of cannabinoid receptors are known as CB1 and CB2.
Cannabinoids are separated into the following sub-classes:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Cannabicyclol (CBL)
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
- Cannabitriol (CBT)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
Different cannabinoids have different effects. The way they are differentiated is often based on their degree of psychoactivity. For example, THC, CBN, and CBDL are known to have varying degrees of psychoactivity, and in many places, these cannabinoids are considered controlled substances.
Other cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBC, and CBG, are not psychologically active and instead have medicinal properties. These cannabinoids have been at the forefront of cannabis research in recent years, as healthcare experts increasingly recognize the role of some cannabinoids for medical purposes.
The active components of the cannabis plant
1) What is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)?
THC is the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The compound produces the “high” associated with smoking the plant, although it is consumed in oil, edible, capsule, or tincture form. Cannabis containing high amounts of THC is considered illegal in many countries worldwide, although it is legal for medicinal purposes in some areas.
2) What is CBD (cannabidiol)?
After THC, the next most common compound in cannabis is CBD (cannabidiol). While CBD does not cause the euphoric or mind-altering “high” associated with THC, it is useful in combating various medical conditions, including:
• Sleep disorders
3) What is CBN (Cannabinol)?
CBN is essentially a by-product of the breakdown of THC. It lacks the psychoactive qualities of THC and the anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD. It is typically found in poorly preserved or degraded cannabis. While most cannabis research has focused on CBD and THC in recent years, some experts believe CBN could also be medicinally beneficial.
4) What are Flavonoids?
The cannabis plant contains over 20 flavonoids. Many of these chemicals are common among other plant life, although some are exclusive to cannabis. These are known as cannoflavins. Many veteran cannabis users have reported different medical benefits from different strains of cannabis, which can be attributed to the different concentrations of compounds in each type of cannabis plant.