What Are Cannabinoids & How Do They Work?
Whether you’re brand new to the cannabinoid world and looking to gain a baseline understanding or a cannabis connoisseur that’s still easily confused by the scientific side of things, this guide is built to break down the basics of cannabinoids, give you an idea how they’re used and explain their effects on the body.
In a time where words like “cannabis,” “hemp,” and “marijuana” are often used interchangeably, we’re here to clear the haze and provide you fact-based, digestible insight into the science behind what makes cannabinoids so special.
Cannabinoids, The Scientific Definition
Cannabinoids refer to any naturally occurring chemical substance found within the Cannabis (“Cannabis sativa”) plant. While there are hundreds of varying cannabinoid compounds within the Cannabis plant, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) and Cannabidoil (CBD) are the most well known.
Believe it or not, our bodies actually produce endocannabinoids naturally to maintain internal balance which explains why cannabis is known to have such tremendous effects on the human body. To put it simply, cannabinoids work their magic by binding to either receptors in our brain (called CB-1) or throughout our body and nervous system (CB-2). For example, THC, a psychoactive compound, binds to the brain while CBD gravitates to CB-2 receptors throughout the body. When you browse cannabis products, you’ll see that the listed effects vary depending on the product’s cannabinoid profile.
Cannabinoid Extraction & The Entourage Effect
Now that you’re basically a scientist and understand the complexities of the cannabis plant, you’re probably wondering how it can be leveraged to maximize relief and relaxation. Let’s break it down.
There are three primary types of Cannabidoil (CBD) extract – CBD isolate, Full-Spectrum CBD, and Broad-Spectrum CBD. CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form and includes no other cannabinoid compounds while full-spectrum CBD is an extract that holds other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Broad Spectrum contains all of the same compounds found in full-spectrum CBD, with zero THC.
There are many uses of CBD, and while it may be useful for first time users to experiment with CBD isolate, recent studies imply that there may be enhanced utility when multiple cannabis compounds are combined such as in full-spectrum CBD. This concept coined the “entourage effect” says that by consuming a variety of cannabis compounds synergistically, including traces of THC of less than 0.3%, your body better absorbs the beneficial chemicals..
The Many Types of Cannabinoids
Alright, so at this point we understand what cannabinoids are and we’re got a good grasp on two of the trendy ones, THC and CBD. But, we did mention earlier that there are hundreds of cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant and we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover a few more as they too have some impressive traits:
Delta-8 THC: So, we talked about delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) earlier in the guide. You can think of Delta-8 THC as Delta-9’s calmer, less paranoid sister. Made popular due to its similarities to the Delta-9 found in your everyday joint (they’re actually isomers), Delta-8 THC is less potent and is found to empower a stable, more laid-back high. This cannabinoid is legal in most states (including Florida – you can read more about that here), and can be consumed in a variety of ways, like with Delta 8 edibles such as Delta 8 Gummies or Delta 8 Lollipops.
CBN: CBN has a great backstory – it was in fact the first cannabinoid to be isolated in the 1800s. CBN does not occur naturally in the hemp plant and is instead a byproduct of THC, extracted when hemp is exposed to heat and oxygen. Researchers are still learning about all of the properties associated with CBN, but it is best known for being a quality sleep aid. It is most popularly consumed sublingually as an isolated compound in products such as CBN tinctures as well as full-spectrum tinctures.
CBG: To put it in plain terms, CBG is essentially the forefather of CBD and THC. Most potent in young Cannabis sativa plants, CBG eventually transforms into THC and CBD as the plant grows. When it comes to known use, research is still ongoing and legislation continues to fluctuate. Users enjoy CBG as an isolate in CBG tinctures or as an entourage effect in full-spectrum tinctures.
We’ve covered a lot of cannabinoids – are you feeling like a budding chemist yet?
How Will Cannabinoids Affect Me?
So, the big question – how will cannabinoids affect me? We knew this question was coming which is why we’re concluding our guide with our attempt at a solid answer. The short answer is, it depends. It depends on a lot of factors if we’re being honest.
First and foremost, your genes play a role. We talked about how all humans have an endocannabinoid system. Well, some have genetically higher levels of endocannabinoids while others have lower levels which impacts how much or how little cannabinoids will affect the individual body. Factors such as weight, mental-state, tolerance and environment also contribute to effects.
One factor we can control from the get-go is our dosage. We recommend first-time users and those trying a new product for the first time start small. For example, the adjustment period for CBD can be up to 2 weeks of regular use. We also wrote an entire guide on how to properly dose hemp products if you want to deep dive on dosage.
All in all, the more you can determine your goals as a cannabinoid user and educate yourself on the science behind them, the more you’ll be able to maximize on relaxation.