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Understanding Cannabis Series: The Discovery of Cannabinoids

September 18th, 2020
Understanding Cannabis Series: The Discovery of Cannabinoids

Cannabis prohibition is just now beginning to end in some parts of the world, and so, this remarkably useful plant that has been used as medicine for at least 2000 years, and for industrial uses for 10,000 years, is just now starting to become known to us. Thankfully however, some limited research had been done under prohibition, and had already yielded remarkable discoveries.


In 1940, Cannabinol (CBN) was partially described and two years later Cannabidiol (CBD) was discovered. It would take another two decades for Dr Raphael Mechoulam to isolate THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, what many consider one of the main active ingredients in cannabis.

Over the next decades, more of this class of compound would be found. Dubbed ‘Cannabinoids’, it is estimated there over 150 in the cannabis plant, only around 110 of which are currently known. In addition, Cannabinoids have been found in other plants as well, such as Echinacea, which is thought to contain even more Cannabinoids than cannabis itself.


In the 1990’s, it was discovered that humans (and many mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles) have two separate types of receptors for these compounds, all throughout the brain, the immune system, and other organs. It was also discovered that our own bodies actually produce cannabinoids, leading to the need for the distinction of endocannabinoids (made by the body), and phytocannabinoids (made by plants).

We now know that Cannabinoids play a significant role in regulating our bodies. This series will continue to explore cannabinoids and other active ingredients in cannabis, and how they interact with each other, and with our bodies.

Click here to see part one of this series: Understanding Cannabis: Origins


This website provides general information and discussions about cannabis and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this website, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you have a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner or seek other professional medical treatment. We do not ever recommend that you disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking out such advice because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution.

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