What are Cannabinoids?

We know that humans, as well as animals, have their own ECS, and make their own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), to interact with the ECS. Cannabinoids are active chemical compounds found naturally in the seeds, stalk, and flowers of cannabis plants. There are also compounds that interact with the ECS that are found in a variety of foods and plants – called phytocannabinoids. These plant-based cannabinoids are able to interact with our body’s natural systems because their makeups and behaviors mimic endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are synthesized on demand by our own bodies. Common non-Cannabis plants that contain phytocannabinoids include black pepper, clove, Echinacea, green tea, Panax ginseng, and black truffles. Within nature, chemical substances rarely act in isolation, and this is especially true of phytocannabinoids, which actually work together in a carefully orchestrated manner.


Our bodies are set up to interact with cannabinoids. Both phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids join with, or influence cannabinoid receptors throughout the body to alter the release of neurotransmitters and encourage balance in our systems. Scientists have so far identified over 100 phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Cannabis contains many chemical compounds that create the different characteristics of the plant. Terpenes provide flavors and aromas, while chlorophyll in the leaves makes the plant green. But the most important chemicals in cannabis are the cannabinoids, which give the cannabis plant its medical and recreational properties.

The two most abundant, and the most well-known cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), interact with different receptors in the body to produce a wide range of effects. THC is known for its psychoactive properties and is the reason you feel “high” after ingesting cannabis, while CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and actually works to counteract the high. Even though THC and CBD are the most widely known cannabinoids, there are many other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant that offer health benefits. Some of these include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC), respectively:

CBG is the cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that acts as the foundation for all other cannabinoids. CBG serves as a building block from which other cannabinoids like THC and CBD are produced through enzymatic processes. CBG itself is not very prevalent in most cannabis strains, often occurring in concentrations of less than 1%. However, CBG does occur in greater proportions in certain strains of hemp, and may become more abundant in the future as breeders work to enhance its presence. This cannabinoid has been found to have many therapeutic effects, including pain relief, antifungal and antibacterial effects, reduced inflammation, and neuroprotective effects.
CBN is another unique cannabinoid found in a cannabis plant. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBN is not produced by any biological processes that occur in the plant. CBN is the product of THC that has been improperly stored. When exposed to too much light or heat, THC will degrade and change its molecular structure, becoming CBN. The degradation of THC is usually a slow process that occurs over a long period of time. Research has indicated that CBN may have antibacterial properties, anticonvulsant effects, and the ability to increase appetite. It can also help relieve pain, and has a sedative effect.
While CBC may not be the most familiar, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the tremendous therapeutic potential of this non-psycho-active cannabinoid. Like CBD, CBC does not bind
very well to the CB1 receptors in the brain. This means that CBC does not produce any psychological effects or high. However, CBC does bind to other receptors and has a variety of effects within the body. Research has shown that CBC is an effective painkiller. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, as well as possible antidepressant effects. Additionally, CBC has been found to have potential therapeutic effects in treating acne, and may also be useful for treating diarrhea.
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