Scientists discovered the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) fewer than 30 years ago. This innovation has led scientists to unearth more than 100 compounds, known as cannabinoids, that affect the ECS. Read on to learn more about cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and the amazing cannabis research of today.
What are Cannabinoids and the ECS?
Every person has an endocannabinoid system in their bodies. This system helps us regulate functions like mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. It was first discovered in the 1990s when scientists were researching Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. Over time, scientists discovered that cannabis actually contains dozens of different compounds that they called cannabinoids. Each of these compounds interacts with cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies and affect us in different ways. Our body produces some cannabinoids on its own, which are necessary to keep us healthy.
The compounds found in marijuana mimic the cannabinoids that our bodies create. Increasingly, the medical community is recognizing the benefits of cannabinoids. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. THC causes that high that cannabis is famous for, and it also may help to reduce pain and increase appetite. THC works by binding to our body’s CB1 receptors, which are found mostly in our central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, which are usually found in the peripheral nervous system.
New Cannabinoids Discovered
Because it was discovered so recently, there is still a lot to learn about our ECS and how it affects the functions of our bodies. Cannabis research is becoming increasingly popular, though, as more and more people are claiming that it brings them relief from various ailments. Because of the potential health benefits and the recent push to legalise marijuana for recreational and medical uses worldwide, we can expect that new cannabinoids will be discovered. In fact, scientists recently announced that two new cannabinoids, THCP and CBDP have been found.
While we don’t yet know how these new cannabinoids affect humans, cutting-edge techniques make it easier to isolate and study individual cannabinoids. Right now, most strains of cannabis are bred to be heavy in THC and CBD. In the future, we may see strains that have other dominant cannabinoids.
These new cannabinoids are likely similar in function and structure to THC and CBD. Does this mean they have similar effects? Animal studies suggest that THCP may be many times more potent than THC. However, we can’t yet be sure what effects they have on humans.
The discovery of these new cannabinoids will likely fuel even more cannabis research. Most of the 150 known cannabinoids have not been isolated or studied on their own, but learning about each of these distinct compounds can lead to further advancements in cannabis medicine. This is an exciting time for both medicine and science as we learn more about the effects of this amazing plant.
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