Tapping into the chemical makeup of cannabis is discovering a truly diverse world of effects. With antioxidant, antipsychotic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory compounds, cannabis has been and is successfully undergoing valid scientific recognition for its effective and powerful medicinal assets. Interacting with our cells in a way that no other plant is able to, cannabis stands as a uniquely resourceful species in the wide world of flora.
From mental disorders to severe physical conditions, cannabis provides management solutions for cancer, alzheimers, parkinson’s, chronic pain, eating disorders and a number of other neurological disorders. Its consumption may result in feelings of relaxation, peace, euphoria, social activation and even higher levels of energy. This wide range of observable sensations owes its existence to so-called cannabinoids, the powerful molecules which microscopically interact with the human nervous system.
Found in a resin and produced in formations known as glandular trichomes, cannabinoids come in manifolds, and contrary to popular knowledge, THC is not the only one. In fact, over 113 cannabinoids have been derived from the species, while THC, CBD, and CBN are defined as the main ones. From a medicinal perspective, this is seen as an abundant catalog of health possibilities.
Before we dive deeper into each cannabinoid process and their particular effects, let’s have a look at a closely overlapping system.
The Endocannabinoid System
A harmonious link between humans and cannabinoid structures.
What appears as intriguing data in the realms of biochemistry is the essential existence of so-called ‘endogenous cannabinoids’, or ‘endocannabinoids’. Though unacquainted minds might be led to misconception, these molecules are 100% naturally occurring in our species’ biochemistry; they are actively and organically produced without the external use of cannabis. In fact, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is one of the largest and most prominent players dedicated to maintaining homeostasis.
Cannabis-like particles within our very natural biochemistry participate vicariously in numerous aspects of internal health regulation. These include:
- appetite / digestion
- chronic pain
- inflammation / immune system reactions
- Mood or stress
- learning and memory
- motor control
- cardiovascular function
- muscle synthesis
- bone development
- liver function
- reproductive system function
- skin / nerve function
Two key identifiable endocannabinoids:
- anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).
Not only are they vital players in a massive chunk of human functioning, the appropriately named compounds– which were discovered through cannabis related research– can also produce effects such as a runner’s high, leaving us with incredibly natural feelings of euphoria and motivation. In fact, anandamide happens to be a quite similar compound to THC, so understanding its natural [and in comparison, shorter lasting] effects on the human body, facilitates a better comprehension of cannabis.
Along with endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes are also integrative to this keeping of balance. As with every process in neurological functions, receptors act as binding bridges of communication; they are responsible for signaling a bodily need for action. If some kind of external condition, such as an injury, disrupts homeostasis, the ECS steps in to support the restabilization of optimal function.
In the endocannabinoid system, active receptors are CB1 and CB2. While CB1 is found mostly in the central nervous system, CB2 is notable in the peripheral nervous system, dominantly in immune cells. To exemplify their actions, endocannabinoids might target a CB1 receptor in a spinal nerve with a mission to alleviate pain, whereas other endocannabinoids might bind to CB2 receptors within your immune cells, with a purpose to signal ongoing inflammation. Effects vary depending on the location of receptors and which endocannabinoid fulfills the action.
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Enzymes also play a particular role within the ECS. Their mission is to break down endocannabinoids once their function has been fully completed.
When phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from cannabis plants) enter the human system, particles interact through the ECS and with CB1 and/or CB2 receptors. This means that an imbalance of endocannabinoids can actually be supplemented with cannabis in order to improve internal health balance, or homeostasis. As we acknowledge humankind’s long lasting linkage with the plant, which can be dated over 10,000 years into the past, this appears as a vital educational understanding in its modern acceptance and implementation.
The intrinsic human endocannabinoid system is a link between our species and cannabis derived structures.
Cannabinoids within the cannabis species
Cannabinoids provide essential knowledge to suitable strain development and medical application
Zooming into the medicinal herb, we find phytocannabinoids. These are separated into the following subclasses:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Other cannabinoids → cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE) and cannabitriol (CBT)
In today’s cannabis market, a wide selection of cannabis strains is made available, each containing different percentage combinations of existing cannabinoids. Clearly, diverse strains come with diverse effects, which allows for a wider range of medical applications and potential treatments.
The main difference between phytocannabinoids is the degree of psychoactivity. CBG, CBC and CBD are non-psychotropic agents, whereas THC, CBN and CBDL present varying degrees of psychoactivity.
- The primary focus lies on CBD and THC.
Tetrahydrocannabinol – (THC)
Effects and medicinal properties
One of the powerful assets of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is its ability to engage with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, resulting in pain relief, ease, and an ignited sense of appetite. Common effects also include enhanced sensory perception to color and taste. Though more unpleasant effects can also occur, such as paranoia or anxiety, scientific experts are currently working on the development of synthetic THC cannabinoids, which are modified to interact with the ECS in a solely beneficial way. Scientists believe this may hold the key to a further range of conditional treatments.
THC dominant strains are marked as valuable applicants for the following conditions and symptoms:
- Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Mood swings
- Physical pain
Increased concentration, boosted creativity, increased energy, uplifting mood, euphoria, focus, happiness, stress relief
Cannabidiol – (CBD)
Effects and medical properties
The most medicinally abundant of cannabinoids is CBD, known for its non-intoxicating, therapeutic, neuroprotective and anti-anxiety effects. Acting to counterbalance psychoactive effects of THC, CBD typically does not cause any negative effects. Its exact form of interaction is still under research processes, though two common theories are dominant:
- CBD functions by preventing enzyme actions in endocannabinoids, stopping the breakage of molecules and allowing for an amplified effect
- CBD binds to a yet undiscovered receptor.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is thus far effectively and safely used to treat the following conditions and symptoms:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Sleep Apnea
- Anxiety disorders including: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Physical pain
- Muscle spasms
Muscle relaxation, uplifting mood, sleepiness, increased appetite
Effects and medical properties
Though not as commonly debated and thoroughly researched as THC and CBD, Cannabiol (CBN) also provides medically relevant properties. This non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid is the product of aged THC, meaning that higher amounts can be found in older cannabis strains.
Studies suggest that Cannabinol (CBN) acts strongly as an antibacterial agent, possibly even more powerfully than certain traditional antibiotics. With that in consideration, the future use of medical CBN will likely target its extraction for the treatment of resistant bacterial infections.
Its neuroprotective properties are likewise relevant in CBN’s future medical development. Though human testing is still under process, CBN might hold the solving key to neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS.
Furthermore, both THC and CBN have been defined as potential aid to those affected by glaucoma. The main risk factor of this disorder involves intraocular pressure, which appears to be greatly reduced when cells come in contact with the appointed cannabinoids.
While research remains in early stages, other positive effects such as anti-inflammatory properties and appetite stimulation have been additionally encountered in rodent studies.
Research conducted on cannabinoid CBG showcases similar medical properties, further including the potential treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Huntington’s disease, which is related to the breakage of nerve cells in the brain. CBG is likewise neuroprotective and also conclusively effective in the prevention and potential cure of colon cancer.
The difference between indica, sativa and hybrid
After understanding the diverse complexity of different cannabinoids and their resulting combinations, scientists are able to develop strains with detailed & effectuous variety. The isolation and extraction of single cannabinoids allows for a technologically and scientifically advanced approach. Herb Industries is an accountable participant in this modern advancement, permitting a gateway into revolutionary discoveries and vast medicinal possibilities.
Taking a look at the plants in cultivation, different subspecies are defined biologically and according to physical characteristics. Cannabis sativa grows tall and embodies thin and pale green leaves, while cannabis indica is shorter, broader, and has darker leaves.
The cultivation of sativa strains refers to THC dominance, while indica refers to CBD dominance. Hybrid strains provide a solid combination of mixed compounds, leading to prominence in both THC and CBD-like induced sensations.
With all in consideration, recognizing the complexity of the cannabis plant is of utmost importance. With such a large list of compounds and unique physiological factors coming into play, the personalized effect we may each experience counter advises any form of generalization. Dosage and form of consumption are also absolutely relevant variables in any form of treatment or effect seeking.
Herb Industries’ clinical development program will utilize advances in genetics, personalized medicine and plant breeding to produce pharmaceutical-grade cannabis treatments with qualities of consistency and standardization. The research stages of the development process follow a scientifically proven and efficacious path, from the extraction of bioactive compounds to production of specific strains. Attention is set to empirically-proven concentrations, dose and formulation.