Understanding Cannabinoid Receptors: Why Cannabis Affects Humans

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Many medical marijuana patients are familiar with basic cannabinoids and terpenes that are responsible for providing the medical efficacy found in cannabis, but not everyone understands how these molecules function to produce therapeutic relief. Cannabinoids and terpenes bind with and activate special receptors found in the body's endocannabinoid system, a mechanism that helps to modulate various bodily functions like appetite, sleep, anxiety level, and cognition, and it is linked closely with the nervous system and immune system. Humans produce their own endocannabinoids in the brain using the endocannabinoid system. The cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis merely supplement the body's natural endocannabinoids when cannabis is consumed. When the endocannabinoid system lacks sufficient endocannabinoids, it causes a condition called endocannabinoid deficiency, which many medical professionals and researchers theorize can lead to a variety of diseases related to the immune system and nervous system and cause inflammation, pain, and nausea.

Many researchers attribute the level of relief a patient may experience to the level of binding affinity between these molecules and their CB1 or CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain, central nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and related organs, giving them the ability to relieve pain, inflammation, nausea, and depression when they bind with the cannabinoid THC. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and related organs, gastrointestinal system, and even the brain in smaller quantities than CB1 receptors. CB2 receptors commonly bind with CBD and other cannabinoids, and they are responsible for reducing inflammation and treating a variety of different conditions, including but not limited to Crohn's, Lupus, IBD, some cancers, epilepsy, and other seizure disorders. The experience a patient has after consuming cannabis also varies in part due to their own unique expression of receptors, making them more or less sensitive to certain cannabinoids.

This information has been provided by Whaxy and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.