If you like marijuana, you're going to love cannabinoids. They are a big part of what sets cannabis apart from other plants, as well as what helps us differentiate between the thousands of marijuana strains cultivated today. We currently know of more than 100 different cannabinoid compounds that exhibit their own pharmacological properties and cause their own effects to the body and mind.
According to Thomas B. Strouse of the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine, cannabinoids can be divided into three chemical classes: pharmaceutical/synthesized compounds, such as Nabilone, Marinol, and Rimonabant, endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally by humans and most animals, and phytocannabinoids, which are molecules that are produced only by cannabis plants and most concentrated in the flowers. Cannabinoids affect our central nervous system by binding to receptor sites throughout our brain (receptors called CB-1) and body (CB-2), and each cannabinoid will exhibit different effects depending on which receptors it binds to.
By far the most famous cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), with the former being associated with the psychoactive “high” stoners enjoy and the latter for the attention it has gained as a natural treatment option for several hard-to-treat ailments. Learnaboutmarijuanawa.org lists some of the subclasses of cannabinoids as cannabichromenes (CBC), cannabigerols (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabinodiol (CBDL).
Though the science is young, cannabinoids have shown to be effective in treating anxiety, pain, nausea, poor appetite, and inflammation. There have also been reports of patients successfully treating seizures, multiple sclerosis, and symptoms caused by advanced HIV, but to date there is no conclusive evidence showing the role cannabinoids play. To this we must heed Dr. Strouse's warning that patient's not treat themselves as a result of their physician's ignorance regarding cannabis and cannabinoids.
At this time we know marijuana plants to be our only source of natural cannabinoids that can supplement what our bodies create, and that we are physically equipped to receive the benefits they can offer. As world-wide interest continues to grow and the anecdotal stories become more commonplace, it begs that more cannabinoid research be conducted and the argument for whole-cannabis products vs. synthesized therapeutic compounds continue to be explored.