Cannabis plant types
Indica: A strain of marijuana that is smaller and stouter. The
psychotropic effect from an indica strain is characterized by
lethargy and body sluggishness. Most indica varieties come
from central Asia and the Indian subcontinent (Afghanistan,
Pakistan, northern India, Tibet, Nepal).
Sativa: A strain of marijuana that typically produces
a euphoric, energetic, or cerebral high. Sativas generally
originate in the equatorial regions (Thailand, southern India,
Hybrid: Most cannabis produced and grown is a combination of both strains.
THC DEFINITION: Tetrahydrocannabinol: the active ingredient in
cannabis, giving it its narcotic and psychoactive effects
Pharmacology of cannabis and pharmacology
of the THC molecule
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been the singular focus of
cannabis research since 1964, when Israeli scientist Raphael
Mechoulam isolated and synthesized it. Cannabis has been a
medicinal plant of unparalleled versatility for millennia, 8 but
its mechanisms of action were an unsolved mystery until the
discovery of tetrahydrocannabinol. 9
For thousands of years, cannabis sativa has been used in a
therapeutic role. The plant itself contains more than 120 C21
terpenophenolic constituents named phytocannabinoids. The
Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta- 9) type class of phytocannabinoids contains the largest proportion of the phytocannabinoid
content. The specific region of the plant, the trichome or gland,
is composed of crystal-like tiny hairs, which contain the majority of the cannabinoids, THC, CBD, and CBN.
The Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol discovery in 1964 led
to the detection of the endocannabinoid system in mammals, including the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.
Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol exerts its well-known psychotropic
effects through the CB1 receptor, but this effect has limited the
use of cannabis medicinally, despite the therapeutic benefits
of this phytocannabinoid. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol acts on the
brain by binding to specific receptors.
The pharmacological effect of each specific phytocannabinoid is important in the overall therapeutic and recreational
effect of cannabis, and slight structural differences can elicit
diverse and competing physiological effects. The percentage
of each phytocannabinoid can be influenced by various factors
such as growing conditions and extraction methods. 10
The endocannabinoid system
Role of CBD, THC, and the entourage effect
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) refers to a collection of cell
receptors and corresponding molecules. The term “steric fit”
refers to a lock-and-key mechanism present on the surface of
the endocannabinoid cell receptors.
Think of cell receptors as tiny locks on the cells’ surfaces.
The keys to these locks are chemical molecules called ago-nists. Each time an agonist binds to a cell, it relays a message,
giving the cell specific direction. An agonist is a substance that
initiates a physiological response when combined with a receptor. The name, “endocannabinoid” arose from cannabis. Plant
cannabinoids were discovered first. “Endo” means “within,”
and “cannabinoid” refers to a compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors.
The endocannabinoid system is a series of cell receptors that
respond to certain kinds of agonists. Two primary cell receptors
make up the ECS, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). The keys for these receptors are called
endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are comparable in effect
to the body’s natural THC.
Psychoactive THC and the Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol led
to the discovery of the two main endocannabinoid molecules,
named anandamide and 2-Ag. Anandamide derived from the
Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. Anandamide literally means “bliss molecule.”
Definition of CBD:
Cannabis-derived cannabinoids: Cannabidiol (CBD) is one
of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. It
is a major phytocannabinoid accounting for up to 40% of the
plant’s extract. The most studied cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol
(CBN). CBD is considered to have a wide scope of potential
medical applications due to clinical reports showing the lack of
side effects, particularly a lack of psychoactivity (as is typically
associated with Delta 9 THC) and noninterference with several
psychomotor and psychological functions.
According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal
of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess
the following medical properties:
Antiemetic Combats nausea and vomiting
Anticonvulsant Combats seizure activity
Antipsychotic Combats psychosis disorders
Anti-inflammatory Combats inflammatory disorders
Antioxidant Combats neurodegenerative disorders
Antitumoral/Anticancer Combats tumor and cancer cells
Anxiolytic/Antidepressant Combats anxiety and depression disorders