The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults. The ECS is comprised of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), and the enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids. The most abundant cannabinoid receptor is the CB1 cannabinoid receptor., however CB2 cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR’s) are also engaged by some cannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids(found in plants), such as tetrahydrocannabinol, produce their biological effects through their interactions with cannabinoid receptors.
The primary cannabinoid receptors are identiﬁed as Cannabinoid Type 1 receptors (CB1-R) and Cannabinoid Type 2 receptors (CB2-R). The receptors can be “unlocked” by three kinds of cannabinoids:
Endogenous-fatty-acid cannabinoids produced naturally in the body (e.g., anandamide and 2-AG).
Concentrated in the oily resin of the buds and leaves of plants such as cannabis (e.g., THC and CBD).
- Synthetic Cannabinoids
Manufactured by artiﬁcial means such as in a laboratory.
The ECS has a homeostatic role having been characterised as 'eat, sleep, relax, forget & protect'.
What are Cannabinoids?
To date there have been at least 420 different chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant, with as many as 100 of these being identified as cannabinoids(cbd, thc etc). With research limited due to the legality of the plant we only really have good information on 8 of these.
Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors on cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. These receptor proteins include the Endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by humans and animals), the Phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis and some other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (produced chemically by humans). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant, representing up to 40% in its extracts.
Download our list of Cannabinoids here
(Infographic showing a list of Cannabinoids and their uses and benefits).
List of Major Cannabinoids and what they do
|Cannabinoid Compound Name||What this Cannabinoid does|
|CBD / Cannabidiol||Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-emetic(nausea & vomiting), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-psoriatic, anti-diarrheal, analgesic, bone stimulant, immunosuppressive, anti-ischemic, antispasmodic, vasorelaxant, neuroprotective, anti-epileptic, antipsychotic, anxiolytic.|
|THC / Δ⁹-Tetrahydrocannabinol||Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti- and pro- inflammatory, anti-oxidant, analgesic, Anxiolytic & anxiogenic, anti-epileptic, anti-emetic(nausea & vomiting), neuroprotective, euphoriant, hedonic, sleep promoting.|
|THCa / Δ⁹-Tetrahydrocannabinol acid||Anti-spasmodic, anti-proliferative, analgesic, pleasure, mild euphoria, well-being, anti-emetic (nausea & vomiting), anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective.|
|CBG / Cannabigirol||Anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, antibacterial, appetite stimulator, anti-cancer.|
|CBN / Cannabinol||Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, it is believed to promote a sedative effect/sleep promoting.|
|CBC / Cannabichromene||Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, bone stimulant, anti-microbial, anti-proliferative, anti-fungal, also thought to have neurogenic and antidepressant effects.|
|THCv / Δ⁹-Tetrahydrocannabivarin||Appetite suppression, bone stimulant, anti-epileptic, anti-diabetic, anti-lipidemia, also beelieved to help reduce anxiety and panic attacks.|
|CBDa / Cannabidiolic acid||Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-emetic(nausea & vomiting), anti-inflammatory, also known for its antimicrobial benefits.|