Although CBD gets a lot of press it is only one of 113 identified cannabinoid compounds identified in the family of Cannabis plants. cannabinoids come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and do a very wide range of things. Each attach themselves to our Endocannabinoid System and alter the way in which out body sends, and receives signals.
The two most well known cannabinoids are CBD & THC which make up most of the cannabinoid profile of the plant- our best friend CBD being up to 40%.
Cannabinoids comes in three classifications: Endocannabinoids, which are produced in our bodies, Phytocannabinoids, which can be derived from plants, and Synthetic-Cannabinoids, which have been made by humans.
In short, Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are produced within our bodies at attach to cannabinoid receptors. Would it surprise you to say that these compounds have the same effects on our bodies as phytocannabinoids, and are actually very similar in their chemical structure?
Anandamide was first to be identified – also known as arahidonoyl ethanolamine. The name comes from a Sanskrit word that means ‘bliss’. In its pharmacology it is very similar to THC (the psychoactive compound in Cannabis) although the chemical structure is different. Anandamide binds to the CB1 receptor, and the CB2 to a lesser extent, where it acts as an agonist.
This endocannabinoid is just as potent as THC when it interacts with the CB1 receptors which is why you can get a rush of intense euphoria after a long run (running high), or after eating some spice. It is found in nearly all tissues in the animal kingdom – it is also found in Chocolate… although in very small amounts.
Two other variations of Anandamide are docosatetraenoylethanolamide and homo-y-linolenoylethanolamine (yeah, I gave up with these too). All of these interact with the same signalling lipids called n-acylethanolamines (including noncannabimimetic palmitoylethanolamide and oleoylethanolamide).
So in essence, we produce our own THC that makes us high!
If this paragraph has been more than enough chemistry for one day, then read on, otherwise, if you are interested in learning more about the other endocannabinoids that have been identified then follow the link to the wikipedia page for reference!
Feeeeww, we are back onto familiar ground. As you may already be aware, Phytocannabinoids are compounds that interact with the ECS and are derived from plants. The name ‘cannabinoid’ comes from the fact that these chemicals were deserved during research into cannabis; although cannabis has a very high content of these chemicals, cannabinoids can also be found in Olives, Flax seeds and Chocolate.
There are lots of these chemicals and each do very interesting things. Here is a list of known cannabinoid subcategories:
- Cannabigerols (CBG)
- Cannabichromenes (CBC)
- Cannabidiols (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Cannabicyclol (CBL)
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
- Cannabitriol (CBT)
- Cannabivarin (CBV)
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)
- Cannabigerovarin (CBGV)
- Cannabigerol Monoethyl Ether (CBGM)
When anybody ways ‘synthetic’ we get the fear – and yes, when you witness somebody abusing synthetic cannabinoids (much like Spice) it is easy to worry about what these compounds are for, and what they do to us. Many can be very dangerous but the purpose of these cannabinoids is much more than for recreational use.
As you might imagine, when an amazing chemical is discovered, Scientist will get to work to try and understand and replicate it.Whether that be for medicinal or recreational use.
Most of the synthetic cannabinoids we know about have been based on the structure of herbal cannabinoids, and huge numbers of them have been produced and tested, mainly by a group led by Roger Adams in the 1940s and later by the group lead by Raphael Machaulam. The newer synthetic cannabinoids have been created using the structures of Endocannabinoids.
You may be thinking, why would these people create new compounds? Well, most of these cannabinoids were developed during experiments which set out to determine the relationship between the chemical structure, and their activity when combined with a cannabinoid receptor. Subsequently, they would be adapted with incremental modifications to achieve a desired effect.
Politically, this can get a little heated.