If you are new to the cannabis space, you might find all the technical, medical, and scientific terms and acronyms overwhelming. You might find yourself encountering a new jargon each time you read a cannabis-related article.
So, to help you keep up with the fast-growing cannabis world, we have decided to make a list of the most commonly used technical terms and explain what they mean.
Cannabinoids are active chemical compounds found in cannabis. It is the cannabinoids that give cannabis its medical and recreational properties. They interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in our body’s cells in order to produce a range of effects.
To put it simply, cannabinoids are the so-called chemical messengers for our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system or ECS of our body makes it possible for us to experience the high and the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. This biological system is a collection of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that bind to or activate cannabinoid receptors found on the cells. Metabolic enzymes break down the endocannabinoids after they have been used.
Simply put, the ECS has three key components: cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters, and metabolic enzymes.
The ECS is responsible for maintaining our body’s balance and regulating many of the body’s basic functions, including appetite, pain response, metabolism, sleep, movement, mood, memory and learning, temperature, immune response, inflammation, neuroprotection, neural development, digestion, cardiovascular function, and even reproduction.
Cannabis receptors, found on the surface of cells, listen for changing conditions outside of the cells and transmit information on these changing conditions to the inside of these cells, prompting the proper cell response.
This means that if cannabinoids are the messengers, cannabinoid receptors are the message receivers.
This is one of two major types of cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors can be found throughout the body, but they are concentrated in the brain and in the central nervous system. They are mainly found in regions of the brain that are associated with appetite regulation and emotional and memory processing. They are also found in abundance in nerve endings, where they act to lessen the sensations of pain.
This is the other major type of cannabinoid receptors. CB2 receptors are mainly expressed in our immune system and in our hematopoietic cells. There are also CB2 receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as in the peripheral nervous system. When CB2 receptors are activated, they reduce inflammation.
THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol or delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is one of the more than 80 cannabinoids in cannabis. It is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis. THC binds to cannabis receptors and kick-starts a series of chemical reactions that causes changes in the brain and in the body. When THC engages your brain, you will experience altered cognitive and behavioral ability. In other words, THC is what causes the “high” when you use cannabis or smoke pot.
CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is another cannabinoid found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. In fact, it can counter the psychoactive effects of THC. And while THC directly binds to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, CBD does not engage the same receptors that well. Instead, CBD inhibits the production of the enzyme FAAHm which breaks down an endocannabinoid called anandamide. Anandamine increases the natural endocannabinoids in our system. CBD, as a result, allows the endocannabinoids to flourish and makes it available for our cells to use. This is the reason why CBD has mood-lifting effects, among many health benefits.