Cannabinoids – CBD and THC

Cannabis contains chemicals called phytocannabinoids (‘phyto’ is a Greek word meaning ‘of a plant’). There are more than 100 different types of phytocannabinoids which are commonly referred to simply as ‘cannabinoids’. Two of the most common cannabinoids used in medicinal cannabis are:

  • THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) may be used to reduce symptoms of nausea, vomiting, pain and muscle spasticity, as well as to improve sleep and appetite. In some individuals, THC may cause a ‘high’.
  • CBD (cannabidiol) does not cause a ‘high’ and may reduce the unwanted adverse effects of THC. Research is continuing into the medicinal uses of CBD and THC combined, but it is thought to be useful in the management of seizures and pain and may also reduce anxiety.

The ‘high’ effects of cannabis are often described as feeling relaxed, seeing colours more vividly, laughing spontaneously, feeling excitement, and having an increased appetite among other effects. These experiences may not always be pleasant and can lead to mild anxiety, depression, or intense paranoia.

Cannabinoids act on receptors in the brain – and in other parts of the body – by mimicking naturally occurring cannabinoids (called ‘endocannabinoids’). In the human body, the endocannabinoid system affects physical processes including appetite, sleep, memory, pain and inflammation.

Within the endocannabinoid system there are 2 receptors – CB1 and CB2 – that work like a lock and key with THC and CBD respectively.

CB1 Receptors Target:

  • Motor Activity
  • Thinking
  • Motor coordination
  • Appetite
  • Short term memory
  • Pain perception
  • Immune cells

CB2 Receptors Target:

  • Gut
  • Kidney
  • Liver 
  • Pancreas
  • Adipose tissue (Fat cells)
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Skin
  • Bone
  • Eye
  • Tumours
  • Reproductive system
  • Immune system
  • Respiratory sytem
  • Central nervous system
  • Cardiovascular system
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