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Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a group of fat soluble molecules that are produced naturally in all humans and almost all animals, except insects. Cannabinoids are found in a variety of plants, with the hemp plant being the most prolific. The first ever cannabinoid was discovered in 1895, when scientist Thomas Wood was able to isolate and identify this from the hemp plant. It wasn’t until 1964 that researchers began to understand more about the nature of cannabinoids and identified the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. In the mid-1990s, researchers identified the body’s own endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a cannabinoid receptor system that helps regulate homeostasis in the human body.

Endocannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The most well-known cannabinoid produced by the human body is anandamide. Cannabinoids regulate intracellular communication and modulate/coordinates homeostasis in systems such as the central nervous, cardiovascular, immune, endocrine, respiratory, reproductive and musculoskeletal systems. The ECS is thus one of the body’s largest signal systems. There are currently two identified types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 receptors (found mostly in the brain but also cardiovascular system), and CB2 receptors (found mostly in the immune system and central nervous system). This is being expanded with a new type called CB3 receptors.

Cannabinoids in the Hemp Plant

The hemp plant has the most unique and varied range of cannabinoids. Today there are around 130 cannabinoids identified in the hemp plant. These include THCA, CBG, CBN and CBA.

 

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