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What are cannabinoids?
In the simplest of terms, cannabinoids are the chemical compounds that lend cannabis its medical and recreational characteristics. These chemicals interact with the body’s cells when consumed to produce a range of therapeutic effects. Found in the plant’s trichomes, more commonly known as crystals, cannabinoids are, in essence, the heart and soul of the cannabis plant.
Though cannabis has been used for thousands of years to help with symptoms and conditions of every stripe, it’s only been 60 years since researchers started to figure out why. It was 1964 when famed Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam first isolated and synthesized the primary psychoactive ingredient found in the cannabis plant: THC.1
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of over 60 cannabinoids discovered in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. Belonging to a class of naturally occurring compounds known as phytocannabinoids, THC is known to produce the “high” traditionally associated with cannabis use. Other cannabinoids, like CBD for instance, actually possess no psychoactive properties and can be used as an analgesic.2
While scientists have to date discovered over a hundred cannabinoids, the two most notable, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), continue to exemplify the cannabis plant’s most majestic, and mysterious, qualities. Like the other 60-plus cannabinoids studied so far, THC and CBD can be isolated, and consumed in concentrated form.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. In plain terms, THC is singularly responsible for the profound physiological reaction most people experience when they consume cannabis in any of its forms. Used as the chief agent in most medical cannabis treatments, THC is very much a celebrated component of the budding recreational cannabis conversation.
Cannabidiol is one of the least active, but most effective, cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It accounts for nearly half of all extracts taken from the flowers at harvest, and rivals THC as the most significant cannabinoid that the plant’s trichomes produce. As an isolated cannabinoid, CBD has become revered in recent years as a revolutionary molecule, responsible for subduing symptoms as severe as seizures in epileptic patients.
  1. “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effect.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
  2. “Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years.” https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406

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