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PUBLISHED ON: Oct 20, 2020
How Do Cannabinoids Affect the Body?

Cannabinoids are the driving force behind the effects of recreational and medicinal use of cannabis. They are the chemical compounds that can either make you feel “high” or relaxed, it’s all dependent on the cannabinoid that’s present in the specific strain. In this article, we breakdown everything you need to know about cannabinoids and their role in your cannabis experience.

Let’s get started!

What Are Cannabinoids? 

Cannabinoids are the naturally-occurring compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. They interact directly with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) throughout the brain and body. They are found in the resin produced by glandular hairs of the cannabis sativa plant.

There are over 480 different compounds found in cannabis, but only around 100 are classified as cannabinoids. The most popular types of cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

These two types of cannabinoids are the most abundantly found in strains. THC is best known for its psychoactive properties and is the main reason you get high when consuming cannabis. On the other hand, CBD has recently gained attention because of its therapeutic benefits.

A woman laughing holding a joint at a party

How Do Cannabinoids Work in the Body 

When you consume cannabis, either through smoking or snacking on edibles, the cannabinoids present in the strain influence the endocannabinoid system, which is a unique communication system in the brain and which plays a pivotal role in various functions and processes in the body, including:

  • Sleep
  • Appetite 
  • Metabolism
  • Mood
  • Fertility and reproductive health
  • Learning and memory
  • Inflammation
  • Pain management

Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system by binding to its receptors. There are two types of ECS receptors: 

  1. CB1 Receptor - which can be found in the brain cells in the central nervous system
  2. CB2 Receptor - which can be found all over the body and immune system

THC stands out among other cannabinoids because it can communicate with both receptors. As a result, it can produce a variety of different sensations, both physically and emotionally. THC effectively binds with CB1 receptors typically found abundantly in the nervous system, explaining its intoxicating effects.

On the contrary, more scientific work needs to be done to definitively determine how CBD interacts with ECS, although experts believe that it does not behave the way THC does.

Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis 

Different types of cannabinoids offer different recreational and medicinal effects. Some cannabis strains contain cannabinoids best known for providing pain relief, while others are exceptionally effective in enhancing one's mood.

THC and CBD are the most popular cannabinoids. However, they are not directly produced by the cannabis plant. The cannabinoid acids associated with them, THCA and CBDA, should be activated first by subjecting the dried cannabis flowers to heat or the process of decarboxylation.

 A scientist studies the cannabis sativa flower

Some of the other cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant are:

  • Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) - It is naturally produced in the plant's trichomes and promotes targeted plant cell necrosis to encourage leaves to fall off, so plant energy could be redirected to the cannabis bud. CBGA converts to other cannabinoid precursor compounds, such as THCA, CBCA, and CBDA.
  • Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) - THCA is the raw form of THC. Unlike THC, it does not have psychoactive properties. Studies are currently looking into this cannabinoid's potential anti-inflammatory benefit for addressing arthritis and lupus symptoms, insomnia, muscle spasms, and pain management. Cannabis strains with high THC content have THCA before it goes through the heating process. Some people purchase raw cannabis and juice them to access THCA benefits. 
  • Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) - CBDA is the raw form of CBD. Unlike THC, CBDA delivers its effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and blocking the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, which causes inflammation, for example, in an infection or injury. This is the primary reason why CBDA is linked to pain management and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Cannabichromenenic acid (CBCA) - The raw form of CBC prior to exposure to heat. It's a non-intoxicating type of cannabinoid because it cannot bind with the CB1 receptor in the ECS. However, CBC can interact with other essential receptors in the body, such as the vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1), which are connected to pain relief. Studies believe that CBC has a synergistic effect with other cannabinoids, otherwise known as the "entourage effect."
  • Cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA) - CBGVA is the carboxylic acid precursor of cannabidivarin (CBDV), which is a close chemical relative to cannabidiol (CBD). It can go through different enzymatic reactions and form another type or family of cannabinoids in the process, such as THCVA, CBDVA, AND CBCVA. It is a type of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Experts believe CBGVA has anti-inflammatory properties as well.
  • Cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA) - This is a minor cannabinoid present in raw cannabis sativa. It is the precursor of cannabidivarin (CBDv). It also has no psychoactive effects. 
  • CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid) - The existence of CBCVA was first reported by scientific literature in 1980. It is a cannabinoid derivative of CBGVA and is the precursor of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBCV.
  • Cannabinol (CBN) - Like THC, CBN is a psychoactive cannabinoid, although not as potent, and also comes from tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. CBN is produced when THC is exposed to oxygen and is usually present in many cannabis strains. Early studies connect CBN as a sleep and pain remedy. 
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) - CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that's now attracting attention because of its potential healing and anti-inflammatory benefits.

In addition to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, other common types are found in hemp and are also synthetically produced.

Learn More About Cannabinoids

Getting to know more about different cannabinoids can help you decide which cannabis strains will work best for you. Whether you want cannabis for pleasure or pain management, Smokey's has got you covered. To learn more about how to get the best cannabis experience, shoot us a message, and we'll get back to you shortly to help you find the right product for your needs.

Contact us today!