We can all agree that cannabis is enjoyable and holds some therapeutic value for hundreds of thousands to millions of people across the world. The reason that cannabis is so sought-after and enjoyed is because of two chemical compounds: cannabinoids and terpenes. Both of these compounds are produced in the trichome heads (resin glands) of the cannabis plant. There are many different types of cannabinoids with two being the most prevalent. This article will outline what cannabinoids are, what the benefits of cannabinoids are and what an Endo-Cannabinoid System is.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. Most studies say there are around 66 different cannabinoids in total. The most well-known and sought-after among these cannabinoids is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis is Cannabidiol (or CBD), which is the chemical most associated with the health and therapeutic benefits of the plant. Cannabinoids combust or vaporize when cannabis is consumed, leading to the effects and benefits that the plant provides.
Humans experience the effects and benefits of cannabis through our Endo-Cannabinoid System AKA our ECS. According to Harvard University, the ECS is responsible for regulating and controlling many of our most important bodily functions including learning and memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature control, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, and appetite. Your ECS is made up of a vast network of receptors and chemical signals that are densely packed throughout your brain and body.
Cannabinoids bind to specific receptors found within our Endo-Cannabinoid System, which produce the benefits and effects typically associated with the cannabis plant. THC binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors. A high binding affinity of THC with CB1 receptor appears to be associated with the intensity of cannabis’ psychoactive properties. CBD has little binding affinity for either CB1 or CB2 receptors. In fact, CBD acts as a “non-competitive negative allosteric modulator” of CB1 receptor – thereby reducing the efficacy and potency of THC when consumed together.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC / Δ9-THC is the most prevalent cannabinoid found within cannabis and is responsible for producing the intoxicating high typically associated with the plant. Simply put, THC is the good stuff – it's what gets you “high”. THC is associated with a wide range of effects that may or may not be experienced by individuals who consume it. Different strains will produce varying effects and people will experience the same products in a different way based on their personal body and mental chemistry.
THC is typically associated with short-term effects including but not limited to:
• Pain relief
• Increased heart rate
• Dry mouth
• Red eyes
• Slowed perception of time
• “Couch-lock,” or feeling heavy
High THC cultivars are highly sought-after in the Canadian legal cannabis market. Although we believe that THC percentages are not the only thing that matters (read our article on terpenes and the entourage effect here), our strains are notoriously potent. Ghost Drops First Class Funk, Z-Splitter and Khalifa Mints are known for hitting extremely high THC percentages, with batches occasionally coming in over 33-35%.
As previously mentioned, CBD is typically the second-most common cannabinoid found in cannabis cultivars. CBD is associated with a myriad of health and therapeutic benefits and effects. These benefits are supported by varying levels of evidence and are still being discovered via clinical trials. Keep in mind that these benefits are anecdotal, but here are some of the most-reported therapeutic and health effects associated with CBD:
• Treating childhood epilepsy
• Anti-inflammatory properties
• Analgesic (pain-relieving) properties
• May help to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and addiction
• Anti-inflammatory and may help with skin conditions when applied topically
• Relaxation and calming
• Help promote restful sleep