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.
DISCOVERY OF CANNABINOIDS
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.
DISCOVERY OF RECEPTORS
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.
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