Welcome to Cannabis Effects, where we delve into the intricate relationship between cannabinoids and the human endocannabinoid system. Cannabis comprises an array of over 144 cannabinoids, but the functionalities of all of them are yet to be fully understood. Among these cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most researched. However, comprehending how these cannabinoids operate requires an understanding of their connection with the human endocannabinoid system. Let us explore this fascinating subject together.
ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS)
The endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a general signaling system consisting of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. Even if a person does not consume cannabis, ECS is an integral part of the human body.
Endocannabinoids, or endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules produced by the human body that are similar to phytocannabinoids but are naturally produced within the body. The two most well-researched endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG.
- AEA is named after the Sanskrit word “Ananda,” which means joy and pure happiness, and it has effects on the body that are similar to THC from cannabis. It is produced as needed in the body and is also present in breast milk. AEA binds strongly to CB1 receptors and less so to CB2 receptors.
- On the other hand, 2-AG, which is similar to CBD, is produced in larger concentrations in the central nervous system and is also present in breast milk. It binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
- Additionally, palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), although not considered a classical endocannabinoid, plays a significant role in ECS due to its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. PEA also has an important communication role between the intestines and the brain, binds to multiple ECS receptors, and boosts anandamide activity.
Endocannabinoids are crucial for optimal functioning of the body’s internal processes, and the human body produces them as needed. As a result, it is difficult to determine their average levels in the human body. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for endocannabinoids to be produced since they serve as endocannabinoid building blocks. Additionally, several other types of endocannabinoids are present in our body.
Receptors & Enzymes
The ECS includes two endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, that are distributed differently throughout the body. CB1 is most densely distributed in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more evenly distributed across the body and are particularly important for immune cells. Endocannabinoids bind to endocannabinoid receptors, which then send messages to the ECS to take action. Endocannabinoids can bind to any receptor, and the effects depend on which receptor they bind to and its location. For example, an endocannabinoid can bind to the CB1 receptor in the spine nerve to ease pain, while others can bind to CB2 receptors of immune cells, which send a message to the system that the body has an inflammatory issue.
Enzymes play an essential role in the system by ensuring that cannabinoid formation and decomposition occur correctly, enabling the ECS to function optimally.
ECS Affects our Body
Research have shown that endocannabinoid system effects the following body segments (processes):
- Appetite and digestion,
- chronic pain,
- inflammation and other immune system responses,
- learning and memory,
- motor skills,
- cardiovascular system functions,
- muscle formation,
- formation and growth of bone mass,
- liver function,
- reproductive system function,
- nervous system and skin function.
All these functions contribute to homeostasis, which creates a stable internal environment of a person. For example, if an external effect such as pain due to injury or fever disrupt the body’s homeostasis, endocannabinoid system is activated and helps our bodies get back to optimal state.
Some experts claim that low levels of endocannabinoids in the body leads to development of health issues (clinical cannabinoid deficiency theory) such as:
- irritable bowel syndrome and others.
Endocannabinoid system plays an important role with stabilizing our body’s processes. There are still many things we need to research. When researchers find new developments in the field, they can serve as a key to heal many different health issues.
Cannabis resin, which is predominantly found on the flowers and leaves closest to the flower of the female cannabis plant, contains the most active components. Researchers have been intrigued by the purpose of resin for the plant, with various theories being developed. Some suggest that resin acts as a protective layer for seeds against harmful UV light, while others propose that it helps regulate the plant’s moisture and defend it against pests. Moreover, resin may also facilitate the plant in catching pollen and attracting insects carrying pollen. However, it is likely that resin serves multiple survival functions for the plant.
Trichomes, small structures on the plant’s flower, produce resin. The word trichomes is derived from the Greek word “trikoma,” meaning a hair, as they resemble tiny hair under a microscope. The most vital components in the resin are cannabinoids, with tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), cannabidiol acid (CBDA), and cannabigerol acid (CBGA) being the major ones. The letter A at the end of each abbreviation (e.g., CBDA) indicates that these components are present in the form of cannabinoid acid. Through decarboxylation, which is explained later on this page, the more widely known cannabinoids THC, CBD, and CBG are produced. This information can be crucial in understanding cannabis effects.
CBD & THC
If you’re interested in the effects of cannabis, you’ve likely come across two of the most popular and researched cannabinoids: CBD and THC. While THC is known for its psychoactive effects in certain doses, CBD is not. One of the key differences between the two is that THC can directly bind to cannabinoid receptors, while CBD cannot.
The primary cannabinoid found in cannabis, but it doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it affects an enzyme called FAAH, which is responsible for removing excess anandamide from circulation. By preventing FAAH from degrading all of the anandamide, CBD ensures that cells have more of this chemical at their disposal. This is why CBD is often praised for its ability to improve overall mood levels. It may also bind to some receptors that have yet to be discovered.
On the other hand, THC is the second most well-researched cannabinoid and can cause psychoactive effects in larger doses. Once it enters the body, it binds to endocannabinoid receptors just like endocannabinoids do. THC can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which is why it can have a range of positive effects on the body and mind. However, some effects are more desired than others; for example, THC can reduce pain and stimulate appetite, but in larger doses, it can also cause paranoia or anxiety.
While CBD has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, it’s worth noting that researchers have discovered that isolated cannabinoids have fewer positive effects compared to a mix of many cannabinoids (known as full spectrum). This is referred to as the “entourage effect“. Essentially, when one cannabinoid is isolated, it loses some of its potential compared to when it’s combined with other cannabinoids. This exponentially increases its value, which is why it’s recommended to consume whole-plant products in full spectrum.
Aside from cannabinoids, cannabis also contains other important compounds such as terpenes, phenols, and flavonoids, which are found in other plant species as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about cannabis and the science behind it, be sure to follow our Dragon blog for more insights.
Cannabis is a complex plant that contains over 1064 identified substances, including more than 300 cannabinoids and terpenoids. In addition, cannabis contains various other beneficial components, such as phenols, flavonoids, amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, that have been shown to have positive effects on the body. However, the most fascinating aspect of cannabis is the “Entourage Effect,” where the combination of compounds creates a synergy that leads to more profound positive effects than the sum of their singular effects.
Numerous studies have shown that the entourage effect of cannabis has much more positive effects, especially with clinical use. It is well-known that the use of whole plant extracts, also known as full spectrum, has much fewer side effects, and patients respond more positively to therapy that includes a combination of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD.
Moreover, the entourage effect enables the same effect with lower doses of cannabinoids as full spectrum products contain molecules that help with absorption and binding on receptors and elsewhere. When using whole plant extracts, such as full spectrum, the high number of cannabinoids and terpenes provide the best possible clinical results.
It is important to note that the entourage effect is not unique to cannabis, but it is commonly observed with other natural compounds.
Variety of Problems
Cannabis can help with a variety of problems. Some of them are listed below:
- ALS (daytime),
- smoking cessation,
- chronic disease,
- Crohn’s disease,
- ulcerative colitis,
- multiple sclerosis,
In addition to treating various conditions, cannabis can also be used as a preventative measure for maintaining general well-being. For more information on the specific medical applications of cannabis, please visit our blog or subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of cannabis, it’s important to understand the key procedures involved in processing cannabis to ensure the production of high-quality cannabis products.
Cannabis contains two of the most well-known cannabinoids, THC and CBD, in their acid form (THCA and CBDA) before they are activated. To activate these cannabinoids, the cannabis plant needs to undergo the process of decarboxylation. This process is necessary to obtain the desired psychoactive effects of THC and therapeutic benefits of CBD.
Decarboxylation can be achieved by exposing the cannabis plant to heat through combustion, vaporization, or heating it at a specific temperature. When heat is applied, the THCA and CBDA in the plant are converted to THC and CBD, respectively.
However, it’s worth noting that there are many positive effects of consuming cannabis that is not decarboxylated. Acidic cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids present in raw cannabis are rich sources of essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Consuming raw cannabis can offer unique health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving digestive health, and enhancing immune function.
Therefore, it is recommended to consume cannabis in various forms, including raw and decarboxylated. This way, you can benefit from the entourage effect of the plant’s natural compounds, which work synergistically to produce the full range of cannabis effects.
Cannabis extraction is a crucial process in producing high-quality cannabis products. There are various methods of extraction, but the two most effective ones are alcohol and CO2 extraction.
Alcohol extraction is the most suitable method for full spectrum product production. Ethanol, the alcohol used in this method, is highly efficient as it allows bond formation with elements soluble in water and fat. Alcohol extraction is typically conducted in closed loop systems to ensure the highest level of quality and efficiency. As alcohol is also produced from plants, we can consider it a solvent made of plants for plants.
On the other hand, CO2 extraction utilizes carbon dioxide and is performed under specific temperature and pressure conditions. Compared to alcohol extraction, CO2 extraction extracts only non-polar chemical bonds, which means that some positive elements of the plant may be lost in the process.
Quality is Essential
Quality is extremely important when it comes to extraction as low quality or toxic solvents can harm our health. Solvents such as hexane, acetone, pentane, and others should be avoided.
There are different types of extraction that can be produced, with full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate being the most common. Full spectrum extract is the most efficient as it contains most of the plant’s substances, including cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBG, CBDV, CBL, CBN, terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds. The entourage effect is achieved through active substance combination, creating a synergy between them. Broad spectrum extract includes many different cannabinoids except for THC, while isolate is the purest form of singular cannabinoid extraction, for example, 99% CBD. Isolate does not include any other elements and is typically used as an additive to mixtures or for pure CBD therapies.
It is important to note that quality extraction methods provide many positive cannabis effects, which can improve overall well-being. Therefore, it is crucial to choose high-quality cannabis products that have undergone proper extraction methods.