The Endocannabinoid System
Both cannabis plants and people have chemical compounds in our systems called cannabinoids. In humans, they are called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. In plants, they are called phytocannabinoids. The cannabis plant has over 100 different cannabinoids, of which the two best known and studied are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the most psychoactive cannabinoid and is responsible for the feeling of being “high”.
Unlike THC, CBD does not generally produce a “high.” There is some evidence that CBD may block or lower some of the effects of THC on the brain.
Humans produce cannabinoids internally through an important system in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Studies suggest the ECS plays a role in regulating stress recovery, nervous system protection, immune system response and homeostatic balance (our overall state of optimal health function and stability). Our endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors all over our bodies to help regulate those functions.
Humans have many types of receptors including CB1 and CB2. Receptor sites are found in many organs and areas of the body, but CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system, which includes the brain. CB2 receptors are found in many other areas of the body.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids like THC and CBD can interact with our receptors as our own endocannabinoids do.
If you’re new to consuming cannabis, consider starting at very low THC and CBD levels as you learn how your body responds.