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Cannabis Education: What’s a Cannabinoid?


What is a cannabinoid? A cannabinoid is a specific type of plant-based substance found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. This complex plant has over 400 known substances. Among these natural substances, 66 distinct cannabinoids have been discovered so far.

The two most prevalent and well-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is known as the cannabinoid that can get you high, while CBD tends to have a more balancing effect on the body and mind. 

Modern science can separate individual cannabinoids from the cannabis plant through the process of extraction. As a result, people can now experience the effects of CBD without the THC if they so choose.

Other cannabinoids you may want to explore in cannabis education include:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG)

  • Cannabichromene (CBC)

  • Cannabinol (CBN)

There is growing evidence that these cannabinoids may also be beneficial to the human body, similar to CBD. But this is emerging science. So we can expect a lot of new and interesting findings to come out about cannabinoids as cannabis education expands. For now, we'd like to highlight some of what we know so far.

The Endocannabinoid System

All animals--including you--have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This network is found in your brain and throughout the central nervous system, as well as the immune system and digestive tract.

The ECS's role in the body is to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ideal state for the body and mind. It's a balanced place where we feel well and thrive.

You'll find homeostasis in your immune response. Case in point, too much immune response leads to chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Too little and you'll get very sick. Homeostasis, balance, exists somewhere in the middle. Your mind also has an ideal state of being that we sometimes call "contentment".

Components of the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is composed of 3 main components:

  • Receptors found on the outside of various cells

  • Endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters (similar to hormones) your body produces

  • Enzymes that break down endocannabinoids when they are no longer needed

How the ECS works

When cells are hyperactive, the ECS produces more endocannabinoids. These neurotransmitters attach to the receptors. This quietens the overactive cells, which returns the body and mind to homeostasis.

How CBD interacts with the ECS

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the plant's version of these endocannabinoids. So if you, your dog, or your cat take CBD, it has a similar balancing effect. Current research suggests that CBD may slow the enzymes that break down your own endocannabinoids, allowing them to calm down the cells longer. They believe that this explains why a growing body of research shows that CBD may offer body and mind benefits like these:

  • Reduce chronic inflammation

  • Stop or limit seizure activity

  • Help people manage stress 

  • Support a healthy sleep cycle

Cannabinoid research is new and exciting! We're continuing you learn new benefits of these natural, plant-based substances. And as we do, we'll continue to expand cannabis education to include new findings and share the many potential benefits of CBD.

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