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Find out what Cannabinoids are

The cannabis plant has been a recurring topic of study and discussion because of its unique compounds known as cannabinoids. These chemical compounds, which include THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), have captured the attention of both the scientific community and the general public. The aim of this article is to [...]

What are Cannabinoids

The cannabis plant has been a recurring topic of study and discussion because of its unique compounds known as cannabinoids. These chemical compounds, which include THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol)have captured the attention of both the scientific community and the general public. This article aims to explain what cannabinoids are, their psychoactive effects, their therapeutic properties and their importance in the treatment of conditions such as multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemicals found naturally in the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. These compounds interact with the human body's endocannabinoid system, a complex system that regulates various physiological functions through receptors and neurotransmitters.

At the plant in cannabis More than a hundred types of cannabinoids have been identified, but the most prominent and studied are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD does not produce these effects and may even counteract some of the effects of THC.

Other important cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabidivarin (CBDV), each with unique properties and effects on the human body, such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic and anticonvulsant properties.

The endocannabinoid system, present throughout the body, plays a crucial role in regulating physiological balance. This system includes receptors such as CB1 and CB2, which interact with cannabinoids to influence functions such as appetite, sleep, mood, memory and pain perception.

What is THC?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the best known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. This chemical compound is famous for its psychoactive effects. THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, causing sensations such as euphoria, relaxation and altered perception of time.

Although it has been extensively studied for its psychoactive properties and medicinal applications, THC can also have side effects such as anxiety and temporary short-term memory loss. The amount of THC varies between different strains of cannabis, which explains the varying experiences of users.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is another key component of the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, it has no significant psychoactive properties. CBD has gained popularity for its many therapeutic properties, such as its anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, regulating various physiological functions without producing the euphoric effects of THC. It is actively researched for its ability to relieve neuropathic pain and reduce anxiety, and is an essential component in products such as CBD oil. In addition, CBD shows potential in the treatment of conditions such as epilepsy that are resistant to conventional treatments.

Synthetic Cannabinoids and their Relationship to the Endocannabinoid System

Synthetic cannabinoids are chemical compounds designed to mimic or enhance the effects of the natural cannabinoids in cannabis. While natural cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have been extensively researched for their medicinal properties, synthetics offer advantages in terms of dosage control and selectivity of effects.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an endogenous regulatory system found in mammals, including humans. It is composed of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids (compounds produced naturally by the body) and enzymes that synthesise and degrade them. The two main cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2, located throughout the body, mainly in the central nervous system and the immune system, respectively.

Both natural and synthetic cannabinoids interact with these receptors, directly impacting physiological functions regulated by the SEC. Researchers have developed synthetic cannabinoids with specific therapeutic properties and fewer unwanted side effects.

Therapeutic targets of synthetic cannabinoids include pain relief, reduction of inflammation, control of nausea and vomiting, and improvement of appetite. Applications in neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia are also being studied.

Despite the advantages of synthetic cannabinoids in terms of dosage and control of effects, they also raise safety concerns. Some may have unexpected adverse effects or be more potent than natural cannabinoids, presenting challenges in their regulation and clinical use.

CB1 and CB2 Receptors: Their Relevance in the Nervous System

CB1 receptors

Location: CB1 receptors are predominantly found in the central nervous system, especially in the brain and spinal cord. They are mainly located at presynaptic nerve terminals, regulating the release of neurotransmitters.

Functions: Activation of CB1 receptors regulates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and glutamate, affecting pain perception, mood, memory and other cognitive functions.

Psychoactive effects: Activation of CB1 receptors in the brain, in areas such as the hypothalamus and the limbic system, is associated with the typical psychoactive effects of THC.

CB2 receptors

Location: Unlike CB1, CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system and peripheral cells, including microglia cells in the central nervous system, and are expressed more in situations of inflammation and immune response.

Functions: CB2 receptors regulate the immune response and inflammation, reducing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and promoting anti-inflammatory responses.

Neuroinflammation: Activation of CB2 receptors on microglial cells may influence neuroinflammation, which is implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases.


Cannabinoids represent a broad field of medical research and treatment with promising therapeutic properties. These compounds could play a crucial role in the treatment of multiple medical conditions, from neuropathic pain to post-traumatic stress disorders. As research advances, it is critical to deepen our understanding of how these active agents can improve health and quality of life.

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