What are Cannabinoids? | Simply ERB
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are like your best friend that always keeps you in balance.
Cannabis provides us with an amazing diversity of therapeutic compounds and the most talked about are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemicals in cannabis that provide the majority of the wellness and therapeutic properties behind cannabis. Each strain of cannabis actually has its own unique cannabinoid profile and these profile changes directly impact the user experience and pharmacological properties. Cannabinoids have stronger antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E, provide antimicrobial properties that can kill superbugs and most importantly they mimic chemicals that our body naturally produces to regulate our biological systems. This includes regulating and protecting our neurological and immune systems. Cannabinoids have a wide variety of pharmaceutical uses and they are some of the most studied plant compounds in the world. Cannabinoid therapies and treatments show tremendous hope and experts believe cannabinoids will play a pivotal role in the future of health and wellness.
How do cannabinoids work?
Cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors are found in a diverse number of animals and have been essential part of life for over 500 million years. To better understand what cannabinoids are, it’s best to understand how they actually work. Modern-day research on cannabis began in Israel during the 1960s and in 1964 the ‘godfather’ of cannabis, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, discovered and isolated THC. It was this discovery that started the medical marijuana movement and during the late 1980s and early 1990s researchers discovered the receptors that THC was binding to in the human brain. Researchers found that these ‘cannabinoid receptors’ are located on the membrane of cell walls and they are found on cells located all over our body. The first receptor discovered was called CB1 and the second receptor was called CB2. THC showed affinity to both receptors, but the binding to CB1 is what triggers the ‘high’ feeling that most ERB consumers are looking for. The discovery of CB1 and CB2 receptors was a major medical breakthrough and these receptors are the cornerstone of what researchers called the endocannabinoid system.
The purpose of this article isn’t to get stuck in the ‘weeds’ of exactly how the endocannabinoid system functions, but the endocannabinoid system is made up of 3 main components, (1) cannabinoid receptors, (2) endocannabinoids, and (3) metabolic enzymes. To keep things simple it is easiest to view the cannabinoid receptors as locks and cannabinoids as the keys. The cannabinoid receptors control the cells and when the right ‘key’ or cannabinoid comes along and binds to the receptor it creates a pharmacological change inside of the cell. Our bodies naturally produce their own cannabinoids that are called ‘endocannabinoids’ and cannabis provides medicinal properties by mimicking our body’s own compounds. Specific cannabinoids like THC may bind to our cannabinoid receptors directly and other cannabinoids work indirectly by increasing the bioavailability of the binding cannabinoids. Studies are showing that many of the cannabinoids that are found in small quantities may provide therapeutic properties by inhibiting the production of metabolic enzymes that break down cannabinoids in the body. By inhibiting the production of these enzymes these cannabinoids improve the overall effectiveness of the therapy or user experience. The primary cannabinoids that are found in our favorite cannabis strains are actually enhanced by secondary chemicals in a synergistic effect.
Types of Cannabinoids
There are three types of cannabinoids, (1) plant-based cannabinoids, (2) endocannabinoids, and (3) synthetic cannabinoids. Plant cannabinoids and endocannabinoids are often the most discussed, but pharmaceutical organizations have been paying close attention to the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids and have been working hard trying to develop synthetic cannabinoids that can be patented.
At ERB we only appreciate our endocannabinoids and plant-based cannabinoid that are grown and harvested the way nature intended. Cannabinoids are produced only in the female flowers of the cannabis plant and more specifically they are produced from the glandular trichomes that are present on the ‘buds’ of the flower. Our bodies also naturally produce two main endocannabinoids that are lipid metabolites called anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). Endocannabinoids can bind to both our CB1 and CB2 receptors and certain cannabinoids can stimulate or enhance the production or efficiency of our body’s own endocannabinoids.
Plant-based cannabinoids provide the majority of their medicinal benefits by mimicking these two endocannabinoids. As we age our bodies begin to produce fewer endocannabinoids and many chronic and neurological diseases are being connected to endocannabinoid deficiencies or overactivation. Researchers are discovering that when our bodies are experiencing these deficiencies or overactivation, plant-based cannabinoids may provide the best therapeutic relief. Plant-based cannabinoids provide therapeutic benefits by directly and indirectly optimizing our endocannabinoid system.
Future of Cannabinoid Medications & Therapies
Researchers are still trying to discover the full potential of plant-based therapies that target our endocannabinoid system, but we do know that cannabinoids play a huge role in our overall health. Our endocannabinoids system plays an essential role in keeping our bodies in balance and regulating our biological systems.
Cannabinoid products and medicines show amazing therapeutic possibilities, but we need more studies done on specific cannabinoids, but more importantly, we need studies done on whole-plant cannabis medications that contain a full-spectrum of cannabinoids and secondary metabolites. To date, the majority of cannabinoid studies have occurred in labs and most of these studies only focus on studying isolated cannabinoids. Understanding what each cannabinoid does individually is great, but at ERB we believe the therapeutic value is in the whole plant and research needs to focus on studying the synergistic properties that cannabis and other whole plant medications can have due to impact on our health, wellness and lifestyle industries.