CANNABINOIDS: Phytocannabinoids & Endocannabinoids
Phytocannabinoids are plant-derived cannabinoids or chemical compounds found in Cannabis, yet also occurring in other plants like Echinacea, Kava, and Camellia Sinensis (green tea). Cannabis phytocannabinoids, or cannabinoids for short, are produced by the glandular trichomes of the female cannabis plant, and appear first as cannabinoid acids before being converted into their non acid, cannabinoid forms. Photosynthesis and a series of enzymatic chemical reactions within the living cannabis plant are responsible for generating the main cannabinoid precursors--Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and Cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA)--from which the remaining cannabinoid acids THCA, CBDA, CBCA and THCVA, CBDVA, CBCVA are synthesised, respectively.
These raw cannabinoid acids can be further altered through prolonged overexposure to heat stress or intentional decarboxylation (sometimes referred to as “heat activation”) into their corresponding non-acid cannabinoid forms. Heat degradation or decarboxylation is necessary to activating THC’s intoxicating effects. This is considered a degradation process because it does not require enzymatic action by the plant during its lifecycle and occurs after the plant has been harvested, heat stressed, or decarboxylated.
In humans and most mammals, phytocannabinoids generate their effects by mimicking the function of the body’s own endogenous cannabinoids at the site of cannabinoid and other receptors.
Endocannabinoids or Endogenous Cannabinoids are chemical compounds produced naturally by the body (in mammals) which act as chemical messengers interacting with cannabinoid receptors to stimulate or suppress numerous bodily functions. Primarily, the role of endocannabinoids appears to be regulation of various systems and functions that aim to bring the body back into a state of homeostasis (or balance).
Cannabinoids refers to either phytocannabinoids or endocannabinoids that affect cannabinoid receptors which are a primary part of the endocannabinoid system found throughout the brain, reproductive system, and immune system of humans and other mammals. The specific effects of cannabinoids vary in accordance with each cannabinoid or ratio of combined cannabinoids present and uptake by the endocannabinoid system. Approx 80+ unique cannabinoids have been identified, though the function of most is not yet well understood. Primarily, research shows that both, phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids interact with the following receptors: CB1 (Cannabinoid Receptor type 1), CB2 (Cannabinoid Receptor type 2), TRPV1 (Vanilloid Receptor), GPR55 (G‐protein coupled receptor), PPARs (peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptors).