Exploring the World of Cannabinoids
Today we know a lot more about the world around us and things within it than ever before. While of course there is still a great deal we do not know; we are learning more every day. One area in which we have learned a great deal, that of science and medicines. It may not surprise you to know that is where a great deal of our time is focused. One aspect that may surprise you, however, is how much of that research is done on marijuana. Yes, that marijuana. As we learn more about this plant, such as how and why it works, what it does, and possibly more I important what it doesn’t, we begin to see the inner workings of this mystical herb. For millennia, cannabis has been used by our species for a variety of reasons, and it is only recently that we begin to understand why. Knowing why cannabis effects us the way in which it does, is the key to its understanding and usage. Once we understand how marijuana works, we can begin to improve upon it for our own needs, creating a wide range of products from edible gummies to lotions and skin care products. The world of cannabis is barely what one would recognize even a decade ago. The reason for this recent explosion in our understanding of how and why cannabis works. Our discovery of specific chemicals within cannabis called THC, CBD, and many others, have led to many discoveries in the field of cannabis and medicine. But what are these chemicals, how do they differ? What do they do, and why are they so important? Well, you’re just in luck, because today we will be learning just that! Sit back, relax, and get ready for we have a lot to cover! Let’s get started!
What are Cannabinoids?
Before we get to what THC and CBD are specifically, as well as what they have in common and how they differ, it is important to have a basic understanding of what cannabinoids are. Cannabinoids are the family of chemicals that THC and CBD belong to. It is a family of chemicals found all over the natural world, including our bodies! In fact, we have a system named the Endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, which is responsible for helping maintain homeostasis within our bodies. Cannabinoids are immensely important, and since their discover we have learned a great deal about them. It is the ECS, that interacts with cannabinoids we introduce to our system via ingestion that causes the various effects we are oh so familiar with. While there are hundreds of cannabinoids, it is THC and CBD that are the most abundant, and the most active in the process of “getting high”. It is these hundreds of cannabinoids, and their unique combinations that create the various strains, and effects that cannabis creates.
Now, almost as important as cannabinoids, are a variation of them known as endocannabinoids. It is these chemicals that we produce naturally within our bodies that are so similar to cannabinoids they can swap places in our ECS receptors, and it is this that creates the effects we know cannabis to produce. So why are CBD and THC so important? Well, for a variety of reasons, so let’s continue to find out!
What is THC?
It all started in 1964 when Israeli scientists first isolated THC as an independent compound.Since then, most research into cannabis and its effects have focused on THC, and how it works. THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is by far the most known chemical is involved in marijuana. In fact, we knew about THC and cannabinoids before we even discovered our own bodily ECS! It was the discovery of THC that fathered in cannabis research, and since then has been at the forefront of what cannabis can do and for a good reason. So what is it, and what role does it play?
Before we continue, it is important to remember this is not a physiology lesson, and while we will touch on how THC works, we are going to save the most explicit details for a later article!
As we know, THC is the main active chemical in cannabis that gets you “high,” the reason for this is that our of hundreds of cannabinoids, it is THC and the special way that its molecules bind with our ECS, that creates such powerful effects, both positive and negative. Both extremes are thanks to THC, from paranoia to euphoria. Cannabinoids are so similar to endocannabinoids, what we naturally produce, that they can take their place in our bodies, and when a THC molecule binds to our receptors, vs. what our body naturally created, we are going to feel it. The ECS, considering it maintains homeostasis, is very important, and anything that changes it is going to be noticed, for better or worse.
THC has a wide range of effects that can be felt when it is introduced to our system. Some of them are more positive than others, but none of them are long-lasting, or typically medically serious. Such effects that can be felt are, but not limited to the following:
This is of course only some of the possible effects attributed to the consumption of THC, as we discussed there could be a wide range of effects from positive to negative. However, THC is also known to possess many medical properties. Of course, it’s not exactly known what the extent of these benefits is, but as research is ongoing, there seems to be a trend in the discovery of more and more applications of THC medically. Some conditions that have seen positive effects from THC are:
As it turns out, THC is responsible for quite a great deal of what we know to be a marijuana high, as well as the proposed medical benefits. So then where does CBD fit in?
What is CBD:
Now that we have learned about THC, what role it plays and how it fits in, its time to discover the wonders of CBD. The two have quite a bit more in common, than they do differently, both being cannabinoids that interact with our ECS, it is the small differences in how our receptors take in CBD, which causes the various effects. It is where these effects come in, that things begin to be different. CBD is not psychoactive. Period. There is no psychoactive element to CBD, and thus CBD does not possess many of the “high” side effects associated with THC, for better or worse. CBD is more known for its medical benefits than anything else, some of which are listed below:
When compared side by side, it is clear that there is a great difference in the symptoms treated, as well as the effects caused when this chemical is introduced into our system. Interestingly enough, CBD often counteracts many of the more negative effects of THC, such as paranoia, and nausea. CBD possesses very few if any negative side effects in and of itself that we are currently aware of.
Both THC and CBD are powerful cannabinoids, and as we learn more about them, we learn why they are so effective. When we do that, we can see which symptoms can be treated, or alleviated with the use of CBD, or THC, and depending on your needs you will choose with is the most beneficial for you. Of course, that brings up the idea of what happens when you use them together, as you can naturally. THC and CBD interact with each other in a special way, known as the entourage effect, but we will leave that for a whole other article. What is important to know, is that they can counteract each other’s negative effects, and increase the beneficial ones when used together. They sort of bounce off each other in a symbiotic way.
We’ve done it! We reached the end! While this has been but a brief overview of THC and CBD, hopefully now you have a better understanding of what these two important chemicals are, how they work and what they do. Hopefully, with this knowledge, you will be able to better make informative decisions when it comes to your cannabis products as well as your own needs. Our understanding surely would not be the same had we never discovered these special compounds, not to mention cannabinoids in general, who knows that we will discover next!