The first part of the question is a scientific fact: Cannabinoids are a type of terpenoid–while not all terpenoids are cannabinoids, all cannabinoids are terpenoids. Both endocannabinoids (made in the body) and phyto-cannabinoids (from the cannabis plant) interact with receptors on the cells throughout the body, including the immune system and the central nervous system. The body has two types of receptors: CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system and CB2 receptors in the immune system. The cannabinoids in cannabis mimic the natural compounds in your body, binding to receptors inside the body. This binding process is the reason you feel the physical effects of using cannabis as it signals various physiological actions to either up or down regulate toward homeostasis.
Science answers the second part of the question as well: every cell, every tissue, and organ in the body has cannabinoid receptor sites to help sustain harmony and homeostasis within and between body systems. When looking at the earliest stage of disease, scientists discovered that cannabinoid deficiencies correlate strongly to poor health. That’s something we should all care about, right? (For more on how to assess and support endocannabinoid system health, click here.)
Once you’ve determined that a specific area of your health could use support, how do you know which cannabinoids, and in what ratios, you should use? That’s the million dollar question, and–while research is beginning to dig further into this question–the answer remains predominantly a frontier. That said, there are some “knowns” about which cannabinoids work best for specific conditions:
THC is the abbreviation for Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s the most well-known cannabinoid for its psycho-active effects. However, it’s also a pain disruptor and–when combined with CBD–offers pain relief comparable to opiates…without the side effects or risks. THC is also an effective memory-disruptor people who suffer from PTSD, and offers relief from nausea for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. These are some–not all–of THC’s benefits.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and the lists of benefits for CBD deserves its own article. In addition to treating seizures, pain, anxiety, inflammation, and depression, CBD also ameliorates the psycho-active side effects of THC. For someone who wants pain relief without any psycho-activity, CBD–at a high enough ratio to THC–provides that result. Again, there are more benefits to CBD waiting for another article.
CBC is short for cannabichromene. CBC has a long list of attributes which include: anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-fungal, and anti-depressant. It is also supports bone growth. CBC has a very short window of availability in the life cycle of the cannabis plant.
CBG is short for cannabigerol. CBG is the “mother” cannabinoid, precursor for all of the others and is non psycho-active. CBG has some amazing medical results but is only available in plants harvested early. CBG is considered more potent for pain relief than THC and is an excellent anti-inflammatory treatment for the skin, including psoriasis. CBG is also known to have mood stabilizing effects, and there is some evidence to support that it is anti-tumor.
THCV is short for tetrahydrocannabivarin. Like CBG, it also naturally replaces THC for pain relief. THCV is an anti-convulsant as well as mitigating some of the short-term memory and speech impairment that goes hand-in-hand with the psycho-active side effects caused by THC. THCV is also an appetite suppressant. Studies in Israel show promising evidence that THCV targets the pancreas, enhancing functionality as well as insulin sensitivity.
These are just a few of the main cannabinoids whose actions in the body have been studied. And, there are even more benefits than I’ve listed as well as more cannabinoids. Many more. We’ve only touched upon what happens when these cannabinoids are combined for synergistic effect… that may be another article, too ;>)
And, for every cannabinoid I’ve listed, there is a cannabinoid acid. All of the cannabinoids on the living cannabis plant are cannabinoid acids, and no cannabinoid acid has any psycho-activity. Heat is required to remove the acid, creating the “neutral” cannabinoids listed above. AND the cannabinoid acids have medicinal benefit as well. For example, research has proved THC-A is a better anti-inflammatory agent than steroids. All of the cannabinoid-acids are anti-inflammatory, in fact. CBD-A is an anti-epileptic and anti-nausea agent. Juicing cannabis is a great way to get your daily dose of cannabinoid acids.
So…why should you care about cannabinoids? If you are healthy already, care about optimizing your health with the targeted use of cannabinoids. If your health is compromised, care because phyto-cannabinoids might be just what your body needs to help reclaim vitality. If you suffer from anxiety or depression or PTSD or ADD, care about finding relief that doesn’t have the side effects and risks of most pharmaceuticals. Care because you deserve to feel relief and live to the fullest of your ability.
Questions? Comments? I’d love to read them in the comments section.