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The Underlying Biochemical Pathways That Cannabinoids Modulate

All living vertebrates have an endocannabinoid system that regulates and maintains homeostasis. We even have endogenous cannabinoids, or cannabinoids that are naturally produced in our bodies, such as anandamide and adenosine, that are almost identical to the phytocannabinoids, or plant cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These phytocannabinoids fit into the same receptors in our endocannabinoid (EC) systems.

There are two receptors in our bodies that interact with cannabinoids, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain, and are responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis and play a role in mood, sleep, appetite, memories and pain. CB2 receptors are found in our immune system, and are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is an immune response in your body which is a major factor in many diseases.

When cannabinoids are applied together, they create a synergistic effect, wherein each makes the other more bioavailable in your body. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD also complement other molecules in our bodies working towards the same goals and modulate cell proliferation and cell survival pathways, depending on the cell. CBD directly activates the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, found in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which has been shown to aid in the balance of serotonin, therefore regulating mood, alleviating depression, and working as a neuroprotectant against seizures. THC is a partial agonist to both CB receptors and gets its analgesic effects from its interaction with the CB1 receptor. CB1 receptors are mostly found on neurons in the hippocampus region of your brain.

Cannabis with its multifaceted uses can treat numerous ailments with the right combination of cannabinoids. Individually isolated cannabinoids can be great for certain situations but are most beneficial when working together or when utilized as the whole plant.


(1) Role of the Cannabinoid System in Pain Control and Therapeutic Implications for the Management of Acute and Chronic Pain Episodes
(2) How CBD Works
(3)Epilepsy – Medical Marijuana Research Overview
(4) The Analgesic Potential of Cannabinoids

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