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Cannabinoids - Canna WHAT?

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Cannabinoids - Canna WHAT?

I'm not a science person, so what are these "cannabinoids?" Where are they? What do they do? Why are they important?

Believe it or not, while we generally think of cannabinoids coming only from cannabis, they are actually made in our bodies too! They are also created in a lab for pharmaceuticals and whether you and I agree or not that this is a good idea, currently that is where some positive research has happened to enable us to get to the point of getting medical marijuana legalized - but that's another story for another day. Lets focus on the body and the plant.


The body has an endocannabinoid system and it produces and releases 2 ENDOcannabinoids.

The first is Anandamide; a naturally occurring arachidonic acid derivative, present in some foods and in mammalian brains, where it acts as a messenger molecule and plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility. Many of us refer to it as the "bliss" cannabinoid because it makes you "feel better". If you want more information about it, here is a link. and from there you can go down an entire rabbit hole.

The second is 2AG; a major endocannabinoid produced from lipids in cellular membranes, mostly but not exclusively in response to cellular activity. In the brain, endocannabinoids serve mainly as negative feedback molecules (reducing presynaptic neurotransmitter release after postsynaptic activation) keeping overall brain activity in balance. Again, here is a great link to dive deep into understanding it.

I will stop here on the endocannabinoids, because as you understand better how your body works, you better understand why it may not be working well. THEN you can understand why cannabis/marijuana may be so helpful for you or someone you know.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Lets talk first and quickly about this category because people always seem to ask about "getting a pill" from their physician or their physician says they should use an FDA approved prescription. I am not a physician, I don't prescribe anything, but I do provide education. Synthetic cannabinoids are just that, synthetic or man-made. Scientists in laboratories use the chemical structure of a single cannabinoid such as CBD and THC. By isolating a single man-made cannabinoid, they are able to study it and have been able to get FDA approved drugs such as Marinol (dronabinol) a synthetic form of THC; Cesemet (nabilone) another synthetic cannabinoid that mimics THC; and Epidiolex which a synthetic form of CBD.


THIS is where the fun begins. PHYTOcannabinoids come from, you guessed it, plants! More importantly, they come from the cannabis plant. There are over 113 known phytocannabinoids at this point. Each plant has a different cannabinoid make up and concentration.

It's important to note that the same "strain name" plant grown in two different places can even have a different make up. Why? Because the cannabis plant has a tremendous ability to morph to its environment. It requires a certain amount of sunlight, water and nutrients so planted somewhere in say Northern California outside with natural/organic soil and an ocean breeze vs a greenhouse in Missouri with some type of potting soil and fertilizers and controlled lighting, it will "morph" to adapt for survival. This morphing will cause some variations in the cannabinoids (and terpenes) it is able to produce.

For most of us, this depth of learning is not necessary but I do have some great resources if you are interested. Also, if you are planning to cultivate your own medical marijuana this is a really big deal. For now, lets move on to the most common phytocannabinoids so you know what to look for.


While sadly at this time, there is no clinical research with humans, we do have the preliminary in vitro and rodent models and lets face it - most of us would not read the research even if we had it. We just know what works and what doesn't. CBG is known as the cannabinoid from which all others are derived from. It is non-intoxicating and exhibits anti-proliferative and antibacterial activity. It is not typically found in high concentrations in dried or cured cannabis plants, except the hemp varieties. However, what we do find is that it may be effective with the following conditions: Inflammation, Glaucoma, neurological disorders (Huntingtons, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MS, & strokes), Cancer (prostate & skin melanoma), bladder dysfunction, appetite issues, anxiety, depression and erectile dysfunction. Some report is has helped with migraines, mild pain and even hot flashes. While there is not "research" on these, when something works for someone in their mind, it works - enough said. For information on the citations or the original article, here is the link.


Cannabinol is the oxidative by-product of THC. It is made when delta-9 THC degrades with light and oxygen. It has potential in the therapeutic management of microbial infections and may exhibit sedative effects (because of the THC). For some it may produce a slight intoxication, but it not common. It is worth noting that you find this most common in "aged" cannabis so it might have not as many of the other good properties you are looking for because its a plant and it will die and rot.


Cannabigeriol is also non-intoxicating because it slows the breakdown of our own endocannabinoids so that our body may better use what it naturally produces. This helps explain why so many people benefit from its on a day to day basis as part of their health regimen.


Cannabichromene is known for its therapeutic potential as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-microbial agent. Keep in mind that they are known side effects such as hypothermia and sedation in high doses. The good news it that we don't see high concentrations of CBC in most cannabis varieties .


OH that rascally rabbit that so many want to make out as the BAD GUY. Don't be so quick to judge a book by its cover. This cannabinoid is amazing at so many things and the key with medical marijuana is to NOT "get high" but to get relief, symptom management, normalcy, improved quality of life...sorry, I digress because this cannabinoid gets such a bad rap. THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9 THC, binds to receptors found primarily in the brain and central nervous system and is known for aiding in chronic pain because of the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and even anticonvulsant effects. It can also help with insomnia and has an antibacterial potential.

CBDa and THCa

Both of these are the "raw" form of the cannabinoid. You will likely only experience them if you drink the juice of cannabis leaves. If you are personally cultivating or have a cultivating caregiver, this is an option. Both have potential as an anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative agent (anti-tumor activity that aids in apoptosis or cell death) for cancer. The THCa may also help as an antispasmodic. Neither of them are intoxicating because they are still in their raw form.


Tetrahydrocannabivarin is part of the THC family whose greatest therapeutic potential lies in its ability to reduce appetite and inflammation. It is found in largest quantities in cannabis varieties indigenous to central Africa. It is still being researched but we see it mentioned often so I want you aware of its status.

The information provided on the 2 Leaf Nurses website and blog is for educational purposes ONLY. If you have questions about what a cannabis nurse can do for you, please click here to contact 2 Leaf Nurses or call 417-812-7676 today.

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