You’ve probably heard of cannabinoids before? CBD and THC are two of the most well-known types, but there are many more. Cannabinoids are found in Cannabis Sativa, the classic hemp plant from which cannabis is also made. They have the ability to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the human brain. You can find out what cannabinoids are and what they do here!
The three types of cannabinoids - you need to know them
Cannabinoids are a synthetic or natural compound that can have an effect on the endocannabinoid system of humans and animals. The best known cannabinoid is δ tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. Cannabinoids can be grouped as follows:
- Synthetic cannabinoids: these are artificially recreated cannabinoids.
- Endocannabinoids: These are cannabinoids that your body produces on its own.
- Phytocannabinoids: These are the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant
Most people automatically think of cannabis sativa and therefore THC when they hear the term “cannabinoids”. In fact, tetrahydrocannabinol is just one of over 140 cannabinoids that can be extracted from the hemp plant. The effects are completely different, unlike THC, cannabidiol, for example, has no psychogenic effect.
The cannabinoid Delta-9-THC - banned in Germany
With its psychoactive effect, Delta-9-THC is probably the best-known cannabinoid from the hemp plant. It stimulates the endocannabinoid receptors in the human body and thus has multiple effects. From a medical perspective, it is used for pain relief. Research has already published a variety of studies on THC, so that in Germany it is even possible to prescribe it on prescription.
If patients do not experience relief with their medications in the treatment of various diseases, a THC-containing drug can be prescribed by the doctor. Since the body’s reactions to psychoactivity cannot always be assessed, treatment may only be given on prescription. In Germany, there are plans to legalize THC in the future.
CBD - the second best known cannabinoid
Among the legal cannabinoids, CBD is one of the most important. It comes from plants with a THC content of less than 0.3%. These plants are specially bred to produce CBD products from them. Since no impairment of perception is expected due to CBD use and there is no psychogenic effect, CBD is legal.
Used in various fields, studies are not yet mature enough to fully prove the effect. It appears that cannabidiol interacts with the body’s CB1 receptors. These are located in the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, and the brain. CBD also has an effect on the CB2- receptor, primarily serving to strengthen the immune system.
The precursor of CBD is CBDa and it is also characterized by positive effects. Since its discovery, manufacturers of CBD products have focused mainly on full-spectrum products. They contain not only pure CBD, but also CBDa and other cannabinoids.
Cannabichromen - CBC brings with it some benefits
Next to CBD and THC, cannabichromene is the most abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Like CBD, it does not have a psychoactive effect, but is said to have benefits for the human organism. The mode of action is not yet as widely researched as for THC and CBD. First indications suggest that an influence on tumor growth in human organs might be conceivable. At least in animal models, CBC was able to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.
In mice, it has also been shown that CBC can act against depression in higher doses. There is still some research to be done before any real structure and valid results can be seen here. So far, experience with CBC is based almost exclusively on user reports.
Cannabigerol - CBG as a precursor of THC, CBC and CBD
CBG is formed in the hemp plant before the more well-known cannabinoids develop later through further processing. It is considered interesting because it is said to have various positive influences on the human body. THC is known to alter (lower) intraocular pressure in the age-related disease glaucoma. CBG is thought to have similar effects on eye pressure.
In animal studies with cannabis and CBG in particular, it has been shown to lower intraocular pressure in mice. Drugs with the same purpose often have strong side effects. If it is now possible to develop a therapy against glaucoma via the cannabinoid receptors and a phytocannabinoid, side effects can be reduced or even avoided. This is one of the reasons why the substance is currently being researched very intensively.
Cannabinol - CBN is on the rise
When it comes to known cannabinoids, people are increasingly talking about CBN. It is a metabolite of classic THC, which is mainly found in old plants. Although CBN is not classified as psychoactive, substances containing this cannabinoid have a strong sedative effect.
Here, too, the traditional efficacy has so far been based primarily on empirical reports. For example, CBN is said to serve as an appetite stimulant, improve sleep, reduce bacterial growth, and inhibit the progress of the neurodegenerative disease ALS.
Synthetic cannabinoids - is it even legal?
CBD, CBN, CBC – they are all cannabinoids from the classic hemp plant and have no psychogenic effect. Thus, they are (currently) legally available on the market and you are allowed to buy them. The main active ingredient is almost always CBD, active ingredients like CBC and CBN are only included in addition. Since it is known that in this form no intoxicating properties are to be expected in mammals, there is no need for a ban.
However, the situation is different with the so-called “legal highs”, as they are wrongly called. These are mixtures of herbs to which synthetic cannabinoids have been added. They have names like:
- JWH 018, JWH 200, JWH 073
- UR 144, XLR 11
- Hu 210, AM 2201
Taking these synthetic cannabinoids can have strong negative consequences. Therefore, they are banned, even if the product is supposedly legal as a “scented pillow”. The best known synthetic cannabinoid is the fashion drug Spice. It is supposed to simulate the effect of δ 9-THC, but depending on the manufacturer, it can be laced with different synthetic cannabinoids that are dangerous to life and harmful to the body. Spice was banned in 2009 for a reason!
How cannabinoids work from a medical perspective
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are produced independently by the human body. This knowledge suggests that cannabinoid compounds are understood by the body. This can explain the effect of cannabinoids when used.
The endocannabinoid system in humans is crucial in this regard. It has 2 important receptors, the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor.
The CB1 receptor is particularly dominant in the central nervous system. It plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The CB2 receptor is located in the digestive system, the immune system and in numerous glands of the body. If cannabinoids act here, this can have a positive effect on various health complaints.
Are cannabinoids legal?
The question cannot be answered in a general way, because it depends on the functions of the respective cannabinoids. Most synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited, they actually have nothing to do with hemp. Also δ 9-THC is usually banned in most countries in Europe. There are only a few exceptions like the Netherlands or some Canary Islands.
The situation is different with substances like CBD, CBN, CBG, etc. These cannabinoids are compounds from the hemp plant, can be purchased as flower, resin or oil. The properties are varied, however, they all have one thing in common: the lack of psychoactive effect. It is virtually impossible to induce a state of intoxication with cannabinoids like CBD.
Legislation stipulates that the THC content must not exceed 0.2%. Consequently, the active ingredient would have to be ingested in priceless quantities to induce a mild intoxication in an adult human. Since this only works theoretically, cannabinoids without THC are legal in Germany and large parts of Europe!