A cannabinoid is one of a class of diverse chemical compounds that acts on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain and other organ systems.
The best known examples of cannabinoids are THC (delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol), compounds derived from the Cannabis (Cannabis sp) plants including hemp and drug-type cannabis (aka marijuana).
Types of Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are generally categorised as being phytocannabinoids (naturally occuring cannabinoids found in plants such as CBD in Cannabis sp.), endocannabinoids (naturally occuring endogenous cannabinoids such as Anandamide), and synthetic cannabinoids (laboratory manufactured compounds which act on similar receptors to phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids.
All classes of cannabinoids share the common characteristic of acting on Cannabinoid receptors, regardless of origin.
Cannabinoids receptors are prominent in the brain, immune system, gut and other organs but are found throughout the body. The best known receptor types for cannabinoids are the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but many more exist, with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC interacting with over 50 different receptors from many different classes. Cannabinoid receptors naturally interact with the bodies own endocannabinoid system, which is concerned with regulation of homeostasis across most body systems by acting as a feedback or dampening system for other stimulatory neurotransmitters.
Cannabinoid Receptor Ligands
Ligands for these receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by animals), the phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis and some other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured artificially). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.
Cannabinoids in Cannabis
Naturally occurring Cannabis-derived phytocannabinoids number over 100.
The main classes of natural cannabinoids include:
The classical cannabinoids are concentrated in a viscous resin produced in structures known as glandular trichomes.
All classes derive from cannabigerol-type (CBG) compounds and differ mainly in the way this precursor is cyclized. The classical cannabinoids are derived from their respective 2-carboxylic acids (2-COOH) by decarboxylation (catalyzed by heat, light, or alkalineconditions).
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
- THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- CBD (cannabidiol)
- CBDA (cannabidiolic acid)
- CBN (cannabinol)
- CBG (cannabigerol)
- CBC (cannabichromene)
- CBL (cannabicyclol)
- CBV (cannabivarin)
- THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin)
- CBDV (cannabidivarin)
- CBCV (cannabichromevarin)
- CBGV (cannabigerovarin)
- CBGM (cannabigerol monomethyl ether)
- CBE (cannabielsoin)
- CBT (cannabicitran)