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Cannabinoids & Endocannabinoids

Cannabinoids

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Of over 480 different beneficial compounds that are present in the plant, only around 66 are officially termed cannabinoids. The diversity and abundance of the compounds in cannabis plants truly make it nature’s best medicine.

The most well known among these compounds is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other well known, important and very exciting compound that is found in the cannabis plant. We are only recently starting to realise the powerful effect it has on our bodies and are now taking advantage of its health benefits and interaction with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).

We also have to give a special mention to all the minor cannabinoids for they have their own qualities as they are reported to work synergistically with CBD and THC to help enhance the effect of their powerful health benefits and interaction with the body and our endocannabinoid system. This interaction has been coined as the entourage effect, which is why whole plant extracts is advocated over extracted isolated compounds.

What is the entourage effect?

The entourage effect occurs when CBD is ingested with the other compounds from the cannabis plant, rather than in isolation. The theory is that all of the compounds in cannabis work together synergistically to enhance its healing effect on the body.

What is the difference between cannabis and hemp?

The plant Cannabis Sativa has two primary species, industrial hemp and marijuana. Both contain CBD however hemp has a much higher concentration of CBD and very low levels of THC, compared to its counterpart, marijuana that you will find has lower levels of CBD and higher levels of THC.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol and is the second most active component in cannabis. It is likely the most popular to be used medicinally as more and more studies have found it to play an integral role in the interaction with our own endocannabinoid system and the plethora of benefits it provides. CBD is not a psychoactive compound like it’s counterpart, THC. You cannot get high from consuming CBD products.

CBD commonly comes in three popular forms:

Isolate ~ which is cannabidiol (CBD) extracted and isolated through a scientific process that separates all THC and minor cannabinoids from the compound. Isolate contains the highest concentration of cannabidiol.

Full Spectrum ~ has high concentrations of CBD, as well as all the other of the other beneficial goodies of minor cannabinoids, terpenes and trace amounts of THC, less then 0.3% (the legal limit), naturally found in the cannabis plant.

Broad Spectrum ~ is near the same as Full Spectrum, the difference being that all of the THC has been removed completely. Rest assured it still contains all those other friendly plant compounds that give CBD its beneficial oomph.

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most active component in cannabis and is the one behind the plant’s psychoactive effects. Unlike CBD, THC activates the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that are connected with someone’s thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, sensory experience, concentration, and time perception. Through studies, research has shown that THC can have a positive effect over pain relief, muscle spasticity, insomnia, appetite, nausea, anxiety and treatment of cancer.

 

Endocannabinoids

“By using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered a new physiological system of immense importance. We wouldn’t have been able to get there if we had not looked at the plant.” ~ Mechoulam

Firstly, when it comes to understanding the endocannabinoid system, it helps to understand the concept of ‘homeostasis’ which we will help explain for you. The definition of homeostasis simply refers to the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by our biological living systems to maintain a stable environment (so our bodies can feel good!). There are many benefits to maintaining a stable internal environment but if left unstable, can lead to many issues and impaired health symptoms.

30 years ago, scientists discovered through the cannabis plant, the endogenous cannabinoid system which has been found as one of the most important physiological systems involved in maintaining our internal body health. It is active in your body even if you do not use cannabis products which is nature’s little hint that we are made for each other!

Our system is made up of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors which helps regulate many of our important biological functions. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:

~ CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system as well as some through the lungs, kidney, liver, fat and heart
~ CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells which plays an inherent important role in pain, inflammation and physiological defence mechanisms

    Generally speaking, the CB1 and CB2 receptors provide a healing effect when activated within the areas of the body they are located. The function of endocannabinoids and their receptors is to maintain homeostasis by reversing damage in whatever way possible it can provide returning it to homeostasis. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the body and CBD consumption increases the amount of endocannabinoids present in the body.

    Research has linked the Endocannabinoid system to the following processes:
    ~ Appetite and digestion

    ~ Metabolism

    ~ Chronic pain

    ~ Inflammation and other immune system responses

    ~ Mood

    ~ Learning and memory

    ~ Motor control

    ~ Sleep

    ~ Cardiovascular system function

    ~ Muscle formation

    ~ Bone remodelling and growth

    ~ Liver function

    ~ Reproductive system function

    ~ Stress

    ~ Skin and nerve function

    Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand there are many important reasons why it is beneficial and necessary to supplement CBD into your daily life.