We live in interesting times: a plant that’s been labelled criminal and dangerous is providing unrivaled relief for a variety of symptoms and conditions. Cannabis strains bring a colorful variety of medicinal effects, but no one knows exactly how consuming marijuana could possibly be good.
This brief look at cannabis chemistry is to arm you with a basic knowledge of how marijuana affects the brain and body. Not only will you better understand your medicine, you’ll be able to tell others about why cannabis is truly a safe, natural, and effective remedy.
What are Cannabinoids?
One hefty word that belongs in every medical marijuana patient’s vocabulary is cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds from cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, and inflammation. These work their medicinal magic by imitating compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which activate to maintain internal stability and health. To put a complex system simply, they mediate communication between cells, and when there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and physical complications occur.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain (receptors called CB-1) and body (CB-2). Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas cannabinol has a strong affinity for CB-2 receptors located throughout the body. By aiming the right cannabinoid at the right receptors, they achieve different types of relief.
This concept is the cornerstone of cannabis as medicine, and the results are so promising that they finally legalize these cannabinoids for prescription use. Some synthetic cannabinoid medications include Marinol, Nabilone, and Rimonabant. While these synthetic forms are effective, research shows that herbal cannabis contains a far wider variety of therapeutic compounds.
Cannabis contains at least 85 types of cannabinoids, many of which have documented medical value. Products and strains have been developed to deliver larger doses of different cannabinoids, so knowing which types best treat your symptoms is a handy piece of knowledge to bring to your next dispensary visit.