Cannabinoids and cannabis are terms that are familiar to one another yet their significance as regards human life is quite divergent.
The word cannabis carries with it many controversies and is tagged a taboo in many cultures. Despite this ground reality, cannabis is the most widely cultivated plant, both historically and culturally, with established religious and spiritual status in many civilizations. However, the state of affairs is changing for cannabis because of extensive research being done for its many therapeutic indications.
The debate surrounding the cannabis derivatives gyrate around its constituents, primarily the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabinoids). Studies have revealed the psychoactive properties of THC, which are the main reason behind the controversy surrounding the plant, Cannabis Sativa. Marijuana and hemp are two varieties of the same plant; the former is the narcotic strain while the latter is used for its industrial and medicinal employment.
According to North American Industrial Hemp Council, a content of 0.5 percent of THC in cannabis sativa plant is called industrial hemp, and the range can go as low as 0.3 percent to 20 percent of the specific plant.
The CBD derivatives in Cannabis can be classified as
- Synthetic cannabinoids
Phytocannabinoids are the ones that occur naturally in the plant while the synthetic ones are the man-made versions. The endocannabinoid is the ones that human body produces within itself and they form part of the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system of human body
The endocannabinoid system of the human body consists of receptors and their reciprocal neuromodulatory agents that have a lipid profile in addition to enzymes that regulate their synthesis and degradation. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) involves the pathways that regulate the pain sensations, mood, memory and appetite via numerous receptor sites that are located in both the central and peripheral nervous system of our bodies.
There are two types of receptors that respond to the endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids, namely CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The CB1 receptors are found in the brain and spinal cord as well as some peripheral organs as the spleen, white blood cells, endocrine glands, reproductive organs, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract.
The CB2 receptors are located in the immune system, on white cells, tonsils, and spleen.
Various genetic and pharmacological methods are used to study the ECS where cannabinoids act as neuromodulators for numerous functions in our body as appetite control, pain modulation, memory protocol, energy balance and metabolism, stress response (social behavior, anxiety, and depression), immune functions, female reproductive processes, body temperature regulation and sleep patterns.
Modus operandi of cannabinoids
There are diverse indications of cannabinoids in human life including cultural, industrial, medicinal and nutritional aspects. Depending upon the type of cannabinoid, the application status of cannabinoids changes, for instance, the cultural and recreational aspect is associated with marijuana while the therapeutic and nutritional functions are carried out by the hemp oil variety of the plant.
Some of the Phytocannabinoids, sourced from plants, are
- CBD (cannabidiol)
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBG (cannabigerol)
- THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin)
- CBE (cannabielsoin)
- CBT (cannabicitran)
- CBL (cannabicyclol)
The significance of the Therapeutic up shots of cannabinoids can be understood by relentless and persistent research work being done in the subject matter. Nevertheless, the mode of action of two of the cannabinoids is briefly expressed
The notorious agent, THC, exerts the psychoactive effects of marijuana via acting through the CB1 receptors in the brain. THC is found in the resin secreted by the marijuana plant and results in the secretion of dopamine in the brain creating a euphoric state. It is also responsible for altering information processing in the brain, changes in thinking protocols, causation of hallucinations and delusions and forming new memories. Marijuana contains other cannabinoids as CBD but not enough to counteract the effects of THC.
The effects of THC usually kick in within 10-30 minutes after ingestion, lasting about two hours. The cognitive and psychomotor impairment may linger on and that is why the recreational use of this plant is not deemed encouraging.
THC record is not all bad, if taken with caution in responsible doses, THC can be used to alleviate symptoms of nausea in cancer patients and to induce appetite in HIV patients. According to a study, it can improve memory if taken in small amounts.
The therapeutic indications of THC are due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and neuroprotective properties.
CBD constitutes about 40% of the plant extract, cannabis sativa. This specific cannabinoid is the one that is the latest fad with many researchers around the world because unlike THC, CBD does not cause the psychoactive high sensation and can be employed in many therapeutic indications without side effects.
The exact mechanisms by which CBD brings about its benefits in the human body are still under investigation but it is clear that the benefits are delivered via many molecular pathways, making it a pleiotropic agent. CBD has little or no affinity for the CB1 or CB2 receptors; rather it acts via many non-receptor pathways and acting as an agonist plus antagonist to many biochemical constituents in the body.
Some of the examples of its mode of action are delaying reuptake of endogenous neurotransmitters as adenosine, activation of 5-HT1A serotonin receptor (anti-anxiety result), interaction with many ion channels (mediation of pain, inflammation, and body temperature), blocking the GPR55 receptors (anti-cancerous and anti-bone resorption effects), and so on.
The therapeutic value of CBD is delivered via its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antidepressant and anxiolytic implications.