What Do Cannabinoids Do To Your Body & Brain?

What Are Cannabinoids And How Do They Affect Your Body?

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What do cannabinoids do to the body? Have you ever wondered why a plant that has been used for thousands of years can change your perception of reality? How being high can make ordinary things way more interesting than usual? How compounds like CBD can help improve pain or mood? 

Researchers now know that these effects are caused by naturally occurring compounds known as cannabinoids. There are hundreds of these compounds identified in the cannabis plant, with the most popular being the psychoactive THC and the non-intoxicating CBD.

These cannabinoids are responsible for the “high,” health and relaxing effects, etc., associated with cannabis use. But how do cannabinoids interact with the body to produce these effects?

What Are Cannabinoids? 

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Cannabinoids are chemical substances found in the cannabis plant. The term “cannabinoid” can also refer to compounds that, regardless of structure or origin, bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the body or interact with them in a way that produces similar effects to those induced by the cannabis plant.

To date, more than 100 distinct cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plant. You may be familiar with the more common cannabinoids like CBD, delta-9-THC, CBN, CBG, CBC, and delta-8-THC.

Delta-9 THC is the most commonly known because of its psychoactive effects or the “high.” However, there are several THC analogs, including delta 8 THC, which has a milder high but still carries the health and wellness benefits of THC.

Delta-8 THC consumers report that its high is more clear-headed, uplifting, and doesn’t interfere with your focus to carry out daily tasks. So how does it affect the body? And how do cannabinoids move through the brain and the body?

3 Ways How Cannabinoids Get To The Brain And Body

There are several ways to consume cannabinoids. These consumptions can be classified into inhalation methods, i.e., smoking and vaping; oral (edibles, tablets, soft gels, oils); sublingual application (under the tongue); and topical application (through the skin).

Of the four consumption methods, only three can deliver cannabinoids to the brain and throughout the body. Topicals like CBD/THC creams, lotions, and balms don’t deliver the cannabinoids into the bloodstream; they cause effects locally. So how do cannabinoids get to the brain and the body?

1. Inhalation 

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This method includes smoking and vaping techniques. When you smoke or inhale cannabinoid products, the THC, CBD, or CBN goes into your lungs, where it gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

The circulatory system then carries the cannabinoid molecules to every organ, tissue in the body, including the brain. Some molecules make it through the blood-brain barrier, where they cause effects such as the high caused by delta 9 and delta 8 THCs.

2. Sublingual Administration

This administration route involves applying a few drops of cannabinoids under the tongue, where they diffuse into the blood through tissues under the tongue.

This method is preferred to oral consumption as it bypasses the gastrointestinal tract and the first-pass effect, where the liver further breaks down cannabinoids. As a result, sublingual application delivers effects faster than oral consumption but slightly slower than inhalation techniques.

3. Oral Consumption Methods 

This method involves taking cannabinoids in edibles, tablets, and oils. When you take edibles, the cannabinoids take a longer route to the bloodstream as they have to go through the digestive system and are exposed to the first-pass effect, where liver enzymes break them down.

They are then absorbed into the bloodstream and circulated throughout the body, including the brain. Now that you know how cannabinoids get to the brain and the rest of the body, it’s time to look at what cannabinoids do to the body.

Enter Endocannabinoids, Enzymes, And Cannabinoid Receptors

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Decades of research into how cannabis causes its effects have led to the discovery of cannabinoids and a pervasive modulatory system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an essential cell signaling system in the brain that controls the release and activity of pretty much every neurotransmitter.

Neurotransmitters are molecules responsible for sending nerve signals across a synapse between two neurons. Examples of neurotransmitters include dopamine and serotonin. The neuron activated by the neurotransmitter sends a stop message in the form of an endocannabinoid that binds to a cannabinoid receptor (CB1).

CB1 receptors are mainly present in the central nervous system (CNS), consisting of the brain and spinal cord, while CB2 are primarily present in the peripheral nervous system and the immune system. 

By attaching to either type of receptor, cannabinoids can cause different results depending on the location of the receptor. THC molecules diffuse into the synapses, activating CB1 receptors, effectively flooding the endocannabinoid system with signals the neurons didn’t send or receive.

This alters the normal flow of information between neurons and results in a “high.” THC may also flood the brain with dopamine, which is the brain’s reward signal which explains the euphoria associated with a high.

On the other hand, it’s unclear how CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors as it appears to have a low binding affinity for both. CBD doesn’t cause a high effect as it does not bind to the CB1 receptors. 

Instead, researchers believe CBD works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. This increases their levels in the bloodstream, which allows them to have more effects on your body. But what are these endocannabinoids?

Do Cannabinoids Occur Naturally In The Body?

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Do our bodies produce cannabinoids? Yes, endocannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoids are chemical substances produced within the body that affect cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids are usually chemically similar to the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

One of the more common endocannabinoids –  Anandamide, exists naturally in humans and is chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. The name anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word Ananda which means joy or bliss.

What do natural cannabinoids do in the body? 

The body creates endocannabinoids on demand to maintain homeostasis or chemical balance in the body. The endocannabinoid anandamide does this by helping regulate inflammation and neuron signaling. It is also involved in other functions such as appetite regulation, pain, pleasure, and reward.

Anandamide is associated with feelings of wellness and bliss. CBD can increase the amount of anandamide by inhibiting its degradation.

The Benefits Of Cannabinoids Activities In The Body

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Because of their action on the ECS, cannabinoids may impact the many functions regulated by the endocannabinoid system, which may improve some conditions. Research has linked the ECS to appetite and digestion regulation, pain and inflammation, mood, motor control, sleep, stress, skin and nerve function, etc.

Cannabinoids work through different mechanisms. Available research suggests they can be used for hard-to-treat pain, sleep improvement, inflammation relief, anxiety symptoms, mood improvement, reducing nausea, among other health functions.

The FDA has already approved one CBD-based medicine called Epidiolex for treating two rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome, in patients over two years of age. 

Where To Buy High-Quality Cannabinoids Products

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