What Are Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are a group of closely related compounds that include cannabinol and the active constituents of cannabis.   The most famous being THC, formally ∆9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound known for strong psychoactive properties of cannabis.  Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another powerful cannabinoid, is used to treat a variety of physical and mental conditions.  Cannabinoids act like compounds humans produced called endocannabinoids.  Other major cannabinoids include Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), ∆1-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A) and Cannabidiolic Acid (CBD-A).

“Marijuana’s positive and negative effects both spring from the same source:  the body’s endocannabinoid system.  First discovered in the late 1990’s, it’s a complex neural system that researchers are only beginning to fully comprehend.  

Brain Science 101:  Human gray matter contains around 86 billion neurons, a type of cell that essentially talks to other cells in the brain through electrochemical processes.  Neurons talk to each other through chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters – including dopamine, serotonin, glutamate and compounds called endocannabinoids – which in turn send instructions to your body about what to do.

Researchers now know the body produces endocannibinoids, which activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain.   Interestingly, one plant on earth produces a similar compound that hits those same receptors:  marijuana.  ….THC and cannabidiol (CBD) mimic endocannabinoids, which impart feelings of hunger and pleasure.  Cannabinoid receptors are especially widespread in the brain, where they play a key role in regulating the actions of other neurotransmitters.”  

From TIME, May 25, 2015 by Michael Sherer and Bruce Barcott

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