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.
What are Cannabinoids?
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: