Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds made by the cannabis plant that unlock its many healing secrets. There are over 100 known cannabinoids and these chemicals imitate the endocannabinoids naturally produced by humans. Do you know the shiny crystals you see on cannabis buds? Those are trichomes and that’s where cannabinoids are stored.
Human bodies (and many animals) have endocannabinoid systems, meaning that cannabinoids are naturally made so they can bind to endocannabinoid receptors creating changes in our physiology.
What does that mean?
The endocannabinoid system was discovered only recently — in 1990. It is found throughout the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system and its job is to regulate the body, creating homeostasis or equilibrium in several processes. Homeostasis is the tendency of organisms to auto-regulate and balances their internal environment. Have you ever wondered how your body maintains a 98.6-degree temperature despite your activity level? Could you imagine if you had to think about maintaining your internal temperature? Thanks to the vitally important process of homeostasis, you don’t.
In today’s article, we’re going to break down the top 10 cannabinoids and how they help you. But first, let’s take a look at one of the main distinguishing factors when evaluating cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids can bind to receptor sites in either the brain (CB-1) or the body (CB-2). Cannabinoids will produce different effects on the body depending on which type of receptor site they bind to. Cannabis strains are filled with multiple cannabinoids that when consumed, bind to these sites, creating a symphony of effects on the body and thus corresponding to the wide variety of healing properties that we’ve read about scientifically and anecdotally. This is why one plant can treat many different conditions.
This is why states have multiple, unrelated qualifying medical conditions for a medical card. The combination of cannabinoids can drastically change your experience.
But that’s not all. Cannabinoids actually begin as cannabinoid acids that are activated when heated. This heat based activation, also known as decarboxylation, removes the acid from the molecule, turning it into a bioavailable compound that the body can register. The decarboxylated molecule is often more powerful and produces a different effect on the body than the acidic version. This is why you see both “THCA” and “THC” when looking at the contents of a cannabis strain.