What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds primarily found in cannabis plants (also recently found in other plants, including truffles, black pepper, and cacao). Cannabinoids are responsible for interacting with the human body’s endocannabinoid system to produce feelings of anxiety relief, euphoria, or even paranoia. Cannabinoids can help with pain relief, or even help to dull the perception of pain, and can aid with sleep issues. Cannabinoids are what differentiate between CBD and THC, as the cannabis plant produces different cannabinoid acids. These acids become cannabinoids after being activated through heat or long-term drying (this is known as decarboxylation).
Every person’s endocannabinoid system will respond differently to the cannabinoids that are introduced to it. This is why the same strain of cannabis, with the same cannabinoids and terpenes in it, will make one person feel uplifted or inspired and make another person paranoid or anxious. This is not to say that one shouldn’t explore different cannabis varieties, only to encourage responsible consumption when determining which strains to try.
The most well-known cannabinoid varieties are CBD and THC. CBD is often used for pain-relief, sleep-aid and anxiety reduction. CBD is technically psychoactive, in that it will create a temporary change to mood or perception, but it will not create the classic high that people think of when they hear cannabis. THC is psychoactive and intoxicating, and it is the main cannabinoid responsible for that “stoned” feeling. THC can also be used for pain relief and sleep-aid, and can be helpful for lessening symptoms of PTSD.
There are over 150 lesser-known cannabinoids that can benefit us, such as CBG and CGN. CBG aids sleep, as well as having potential to aid with glaucoma as THC does. CBN is helpful for sleep as well, with relaxing effects. CBN can have very minor intoxicating effects, but nowhere near the level of THC.
Cannabinoids play a key part in the experience of using cannabis through influencing mood, sleep and pain perception. As cannabis becomes more accepted in general society, we look forward to continued learning and experimentation with these plant allies.
- Dr. Anaya Mandal, MD. What are cannabinoids? 2019 February 2019. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-are-Cannabinoids.aspx.
- Jr., Ismael Rodriguez. Federal Study Finds Cannabis Beneficial for PTSD Treatment. 21 September 2021. https://www.vfw.org/media-and-events/latest-releases/archives/2021/9/federal-study-finds-cannabis-beneficial-for-ptsd-treatment.
- Milton, Sharon. What are Cannabinoids: Their Benefits, Side Effects & More. 22 July 2022. https://www.discovermagazine.com/lifestyle/what-are-cannabinoids-their-benefits-side-effects-and-more.
- Stone, Emma. What is a cannabinoid? 17 February 2022. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-cannabinoid.