What Are Cannabinoids?

The cannabis industry is taking off in the United States and across the globe. In fact, experts are forecasting $46 billion in sales by 2025. Sales are expected to double from the $20 billion figure achieved in 2020.

This comes as no surprise as the medical community uncovers more applications for cannabis. Cannabinoids, a compound found in cannabis, is one area that is experiencing rapid development.

Read on to learn all about cannabinoids. Explore topics such as what they do and potential applications.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Before diving into potential applications and benefits, it is important to understand what a cannabinoid is. They are found within a cannabis plant.

There are various types found in a cannabis plant. Each one serves a different purpose. Continue reading for a brief overview of each type:

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

There are cannabinoid receptors found concentrated in the brain. They reside in the area of the brain that is responsible for pleasure, coordination, and thinking.

THC is present in marijuana and is the chemical that triggers its psychological effects. It accomplishes this high by attaching itself to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

The medical community has discovered various health benefits of THC. As a result, synthetic THC is now used in prescription drugs and other medical products.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of synthetic THC in various products. In one application, THC is used to relieve nausea and vomiting in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. Another application treats loss of appetite in HIV/AIDS patients.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is another chemical found in marijuana. However, CBD does not contain the same psychoactive ingredient found in THC that produces a high.

It is derived from a hemp plant. CBD can also be produced in a laboratory setting. In 2018, Congress issued a new law making hemp legal in the United States. A byproduct of making hemp legal was an explosion of consumer products marketing CBD as the primary ingredient.

Meanwhile, medical researchers have continued to explore potential clinical uses for the chemical compound. Like THC, the FDA has approved CBD’s use for medical conditions such as epilepsy.

The FDA is also exploring other potential uses to treat diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and many others.

Also, you are sure to see CBD stores springing up in your local community. Over-the-counter consumer products are now available for beauty, pain management, anxiety, and many more. 

Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN is the third-most prolific chemical compound found in cannabis. CBN is considered a milder drug than THC. Like CBD, it does not contain the psychoactive ingredient that causes a high.

A lot of research has been conducted on CBD because hemp was legalized and politicians have loosened the regulations on its use for medical trials.

CBN is behind CBD in terms of medical research. However, it shows a lot of promise, especially for sleep and pain management.

What Is an Endocannabinoid System?

Cannabinoids are classified based on their functionality and how they are produced. There are three classifications of the cannabis compound.

Synthetic types are produced in a laboratory setting. This includes synthetic THC, which is FDA-approved to treat nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

A phytocannabinoid system is another category. These are plant-based and include both THC and CBD.

The final classification is referred to as an endocannabinoid system. These are endogenously produced, meaning that they are derived naturally from the body. The human body includes receptors that react to these naturally-produced chemicals.

What Are the Functions of the Endocannabinoid System?

The body’s endocannabinoid system is responsible for many positive functions. One of the most important functions is that it regulates pain.

Chronic pain is an ailment that afflicts a large percentage of the country. According to medical studies, more than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

Certain cannabis products work to activate the endocannabinoid system. CBD or TCH products attach to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The end result is a reduction in chronic pain.

The endocannabinoid system has many other positive functions. It regulates sleep, appetite, and mood. It boosts liver, muscle, skin, and nerve function. Lastly, this system boosts your cardiovascular and immune systems.

Your Guide to Cannabinoids

You now have a firm understanding of what a cannabinoid is. While there are hundreds of them, CBD and THC are the most notable. CBN is growing in popularity and also shows promise.