Cannabinoids and their Effects on Humans

Cannabinoids and their Effects on Humans

Cannabinoids are derived from cannabis or hemp plant and has compounds that can cause both psychological and physiological effect on humans. While cannabinoids containing CBD have medical benefits and help to reduce stress, cannabinoids containing THC or tetrahydrocannabinol can induce hallucinations and anxiety. Smoking or vaping cannabinoids with THC is the same as smoking marijuana as it has similar euphoric effects. Cultivation of cannabis or hemp plant is allowed in most parts of the world today as it has multiple applications in industries like textiles, food processing, automobile, paper and others. Though there are more than 80 different strains of cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plant, the most prevalent are CBD and THC which have completely diverse qualities as the former has medicinal benefits while latter has psychoactive properties.

General effect of cannabinoids

According to recent research about cannabinoids, these have a special effect on the human body on a specific section of central nervous system called endocannabinoid system. This research was carried out by Professor Rephael Mechoulam of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It opened a new study related to biochemistry in which brain’s reaction to consumption of different strains of cannabis is being investigated. This research showed that cannabinoids act as modulators of brain’s neurotransmitters and cause physiological effect on learning, appetite and sensory nerves.

These cannabinoid receptors are more than normal receptors of the body and are present throughout the body and when they are stimulated it leads to several physiological processes. These receptors have been categorized into two sections called as CB1 and CB2 among which the first one is found in both the brain and peripheral tissue while the second receptor is manifested into cells and vital organs. The largest concentration of CB2 receptor is found in the spleen followed by immune system and cardiovascular system.

Antioxidant effect of cannabinoids

Both CBD and THC cannabinoids have fragrant terpenoids that can work with cannabinoids to provide unique taste and flavor to vaping liquids used in e-cigarettes. The neuroprotective antioxidants in both THC and CBD prevent oxidative damage and are more protective than Vitamin E or Vitamin C. The receptors for cannabinoid are largest family of receptors in the human body and are referred to as G protein-coupled receptor. The cannabinoids that are nonpsychotropic can be used for their anti inflammatory properties as and can help in modulation of pain in the body.

Toxicity of cannabinoids

THC affects the central nervous system and can result in mood alterations and cognition problems. It can heighten a person’s senses and can help in curing of insomnia, pain, depression, nausea and appetite. But THC has rarely been able to cause fatal overdose like other drugs and has low toxicity but smoking cannabis or marijuana can led to similar tar formation in lungs like tobacco smoke in cigars and cannabis smoke has fifty carcinogens.

Psychoactive effect of cannabinoids

THC or tetrahydrocannabinol affects the brain by binding itself to cannabinoid receptors which affects the neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine and norepinephrine that lead to feelings of euphoria and anxiety. CBD on the other hand has a milder effect and causes general change in conscious perception by causing a feeling of relaxation and stress reduction. Nearly 20-30 percent of people that use THC rich marijuana for recreational purpose is affected by feelings of paranoia and anxiety and in extreme cases may become besieged by panic attacks.

Cannabinoids can also enhance enjoyment of food as it heightens taste and flavor of food through sensory nerves of the brain. It has been noticed that people that are high on THC induced marijuana are able to enjoy slow music and comedy as their perception of time and activities is distorted. Varying amounts of cannabinoids can lead to pseudo hallucinatory effect and dissociative state and in extreme cases can even lead to aggressive behavior wherein physical restraint may be necessary.

Endocannabinoids

These are produced by bodies of humans and mammals to enable physiological functions like pain management, immunity management, memory, regulation of inflammation, and reward for appetite management. These work with receptors on the brain comprising of C1 and C2 that manage brain reactions to certain situations. The first receptor C1 that receives THC stimulates its euphoric activities and it can manage health issues like loss of appetite, immune function, cognition thermoregulation and emesis.

Cannabichromeme and Cannabigerol

These cannabinoids in hemp is generally found in cannabis grown in tropical regions. It is regarded more superior to CBD and THC due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help if it is used in topical medicines. But it has not been used much till date in these formulations as its overall effect is not as effective as CBD and THC. Cannabigerol is also a potent antibacterial compound that has fought against fungi and mycobacterial infections that people get throughout the year. Though cannabigerol exists in very small amounts in the human body it is a precursor to THC and CBD.

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