What are Phytocannabinoids?

What are Phytocannabinoids?

Let’s look at what phytocannabinoids are and how phytocannabinoids affect our bodies and minds.

Phytocannabinoids are the cannabinoids which are produced in both cannabis and hemp. There is a big movement in the scientific community towards cannabinoids and the medicinal benefits which they have to offer people around the world. Many countries around the world have been reevaluating the way that they look at cannabis, and it’s many uses. While marijuana was used for its medicinal purposes for centuries, early in the 1900s, it was classified by many countries as a narcotic. Only recently have countries turned back to marijuana and the medical benefits it has to offer.

Some of the more popular phytocannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). All the cannabinoids which are produced in plants are known as phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids which we produce inside our own bodies! You don’t even have to consume cannabis to produce endocannabinoids. The two main endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA), and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Both phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system is a series of receptors which are networked together throughout our bodies. The receptors in the brain are generally CB1 receptors, while the receptors in the immune system and central nervous system are mostly CB2 receptors. It’s believed that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining balance throughout the body and minds. Some researchers believe that it was a hemp-based diet which allowed our ancestors tens of thousands of years ago to develop an intricate endocannabinoid system we enjoy today.

Below are some of the more common phytocannabinoids and how they react and interact with our endocannabinoid system:

Cannabigerol (CBG) 

CBG is considered to be the precursor to most of the other phytocannabinoids. CBG is believed to have a wide variety of different therapeutic applications, proving more effective than CBD in managing neuropathic pain. Enzymes located in the trichomes convert CBG into one of the 113 other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. After this process, there is very little CBG remaining in the mature plant, normally less than 1%. Read more about CBG here.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV) 

CBDV is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBDV is the analog of CBD. It has a 3-carbon sidechain (propyl), instead of 5-carbons (pentyl). It has many of the same characteristics as CBD, and there is currently research being undertaken into its use as an anticonvulsant.

Cannabidiol (CBD) 

One of the more well-known phytocannabinoids, CBD has the most therapeutic application and is currently one of the most studied. It’s non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high like THC. This makes it legal to buy and possess in many countries around the world. CBD is currently used in the treatment of a variety of different conditions including and utilized as an anticonvulsant, antitumor, anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-depressant, anxiolytic, antioxidant, and immunostimulant. Read more about CBD here.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 

THC is probably the most well-known and talked about phytocannabinoid of them all! When you consume marijuana and get high, that’s the THC in the marijuana affecting you. When the THC binds with the CB1 receptors, it stimulates the release of endocannabinoids which regulate both our mood and our appetite. THC is also known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, with around twenty times the efficacy of aspirin. It was the psychoactive properties of THC which led to lobbying to have cannabis classified as a narcotic. Read more about THC here.

Cannabichromene (CBC) 

CBC is another therapeutic phytocannabinoid found in cannabis. It is considered by many to be the most powerful anti-cancer cannabinoid. CBC interacts with CB2 receptors in tumor cells, producing surface antigens which recruit cytotoxic immune cells which come to destroy it. Another interesting fact about CBC is that it is the only phytocannabinoid which is believed to stimulate the growth of brain cells. This wasn’t even believed to be possible until the late 90s! This has fueled research into the use of CBC as an anti-Alzheimer therapy. Read more about CBC here.

Phytocannabinoids play an important role in our endocannabinoid system, but research into them is still in very early stages. For the last century, cannabis’ status as a narcotic has led to low amounts of research being conducted into its benefits. As the legalization of cannabis and its reclassification for medicinal purposes continues to grow, more and more research and studies are being undertaken.

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