Over 100 cannabinoid compounds are found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. All these different compounds found in cannabis have different characteristics as well as varying quantities depending on each strain. Part of the mammalian brain that is responsible for the psychological activity of appetite, pain, mood, and memory, is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). ECS is also present throughout our central nervous system and all through our bodies and is the connection between us and cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Scientifically identified CB1 (cannabinoid 1) and CB2 (cannabinoid 2) receptors presented in the ECS are what works with the cannabinoid compounds.
THC aka Tetrahydrocannabinol
Most people today are familiar with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the principal psychoactive cannabinoid in found in cannabis. THC is responsible for the stoner high and has many medicinal benefits; namely glaucoma, a sleeping aid, nausea, vomiting, and as an appetite stimulant, among others. Another less commonly known cannabinoid is CBD (Cannabidiol). CBD is the nonpsychoactive compound in cannabis and is mainly extracted from in the form of concentrates which are then administered to patients. It is especially used to treat cancerous brain tumors, epileptic seizures, and many other medical conditions.
On a molecular level THC performs very well when binding to our CB1 receptors, a good analogy would be a lock and key. These CB1 receptors are mainly located in our brain and across the body through our central nervous system. Once the THC molecule binds with the CB1 receptor it activates and mimics a neurotransmitter molecule called anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule”. This, in essence, is what gives you the feeling of euphoria and the “high” as well as stimulates appetite.
CBD, on the other hand, does not fit physically very well with CB1 receptors and actually inhibits triggering of THC on the receptor. CBD is known as an antagonist endocannabinoid and effectively works against THC preventing a buzz from the THC molecule. Cannabidiol antagonizes the receptors such as the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB2’s tend to be concentrated within the immune system and many other important parts of the body.
CBD was popularized around the world by a young girl named Charlotte Figi, who suffered from epileptic seizures brought on by Dravet Syndrome most of her life. She would suffer from hundreds of seizures weekly which had a massive negative impact on her quality of life and physical health. After her parents exhausted every avenue possible in the traditional medical industry, they turned to cannabis breeders looking for a high CBD ratio cannabis strain. The final out come was a world famous medicinal marijuana strain aptly named, Charlottes Web.
I took an oath to do no harm. If a doctor is willing to give you a prescription for a drug that is addictive or could kill you, then why should you not be able to choose a non-toxic drug like marijuana?
- Mollie Fry, MD
Although non-psychoactive CBD has proven medical benefits by uncontrolled studies and government controlled studies as well as underlying public support with results from patients around the world will ensure CBD research is continued.