Cannabinoids

CANNABINOIDS

Cannabinoids are a heterogeneous group of compounds characterized by binding to certain cannabinoid receptors located on the surface of cells. Cannabinoids belong to the group of lipids (fat-soluble molecules).

Cannabinoids in plants and vertebrate tissues

Cannabinoids can be produced in certain plants, in the tissues of vertebrates, or they can be produced synthetically. We divide them into three groups:

  1. PHYTOCANNABINOIDS
  2. ENDOCANABINOIDS
  3. SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS

PHYTOCANNABINOIDS

They are produced in certain plants. There are absolutely most of them in the cannabis plant, where they are formed in resin glands called trichomes. Trichomes are distributed over the entire surface of the cannabis plant (both male and female plants), but most of them are found on some parts of the female inflorescence. Trichomes therefore secrete a resin that contains various important components, the most important of which are: cannabinoids and terpenes. The resin primarily serves to protect the plant from external influences (insects, drought…) during its growth. Over 140 types of cannabinoids have been discovered so far. The most famous cannabinoids of hemp are: 

  • THC (delta – 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol), which is an activator of CB1 receptors and psychoactive 
  • CBD (cannabidiol), which is not psychoactive, but has sedative effects.

Some other cannabinoids: CBG (cannabigerol), CBDA (cannabidiol acid), THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBN (cannabinol)…

Phytocannabinoids are so identical to endocannabinoids in terms of their chemical composition that they can activate the same receptors in our body. In this way, they are of course welcome in our endocannabinoid system.

ENDOCANABINOIDS

They are formed in the tissues of vertebrates. In humans, they are produced in our nerve cells. The two endocannabinoids most studied so far are: 

  • AEA (Anandamide) and
  • 2-AG (Arachidonoyl glycerol)

Endocannabinoids are molecules that act as a kind of key for the two most important endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located mostly in the central nervous system, but they are also found in some peripheral organs and tissues, such as the spleen, white blood cells, endocrine glands, parts of the digestive tract.

CB2 receptors are located mainly in immune cells and do not create a psychoactive reaction. This is precisely why they are potentially a very good starting point in the treatment of inflammation and neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is the spontaneous irritation of electrical impulses along a damaged nerve and can occur in addition to nerve damage as well as infections, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, carcinoma…

SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS

They are created in the laboratory during chemical reactions, but according to research so far, they are less effective than natural cannabinoids.

The effects of cannabinoids occur when cannabinoid receptors are activated. Every function and process in our body requires a certain balance of factors and when the body achieves them we can talk about homeostasis. The homeostatic response throughout the body is triggered by the interaction of cannabinoids with cannabinoid receptors. Given that our body uses endocannabinoid molecules to regulate functions, hemp phytocannabinoids can activate many of our body’s cannabinoid receptors due to their very similar composition. In doing so, they also initiate the process of communication in the organism and influence the regulation of the system. Besides endocannabinoid receptors and enzymes, cannabinoids are an integral part of the endocannabinoid system.

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