Unlike many other intoxicants, the effects of cannabis are not due to just one particular substance, but are the sum of several different compounds.
Hemp is a plant with a complex chemical composition, with more than 400 different compounds. Some of these have psychoactive and physiological properties.
The main active compounds are phytocannabinoids and terpenes .
Phytocannabinoids are unique compounds found in the hemp plant that are a major cause of its narcotic and medicinal properties. They affect the function of brain neurotransmitters as well as our body’s endocannabinoid system.
More than 100 compounds classified as cannabinoids have been identified in hemp, two of which stand out in particular: THC and CBD.
The main psychoactive substance in hemp is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC
THC is the main cause of the narcotic effects of cannabis. Although THC is best known for its intoxicating properties, it is also known to have many medicinal benefits.
- Relieves pain
- Appetite suppressant
- Relieving nausea
THC is the best known and most studied cannabinoid. However, it is not the only active compound in hemp.
Another common cannabinoid found in hemp is CBD, or cannabidiol
The CBD has been of great interest in recent years. CBD has no narcotic effects at all , but actually alleviates the intoxication state caused by THC.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cannabidiol is a safe and well-tolerated substance with prima facie evidence of many medicinal effects .
Research focusing on the drug use of cannabidiol has increased significantly and potential applications include pain relief and the treatment of anxiety disorder.
To date, however, the strongest evidence has been obtained for the ability of a compound to reduce severe epileptic seizures . Cannabidiol is known to be an effective drug, especially in the treatment of rare childhood epilepsies, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
There is a wealth of research data on the two cannabinoids mentioned above and their properties are quite well understood.
However, more than 100 compounds classified as cannabinoids have been found in hemp plants, each with its own unique properties. However, the effects of many smaller cannabinoids are not yet well known.
Other common cannabinoids in hemp include:
- Cannabinol ( CBN )
- Cannabigerol ( CBG )
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid ( THCA )
- Cannabidiol acid ( CBDA )
- Tetrahydrocannabivarine ( THCV )
- Cannabid Vario ( CBDV )
Although only cannabinoids are often referred to in terms of effects, compounds called terpenes are also very important . Terpenes are molecules found in plants and fruits that bring plants their characteristic aromas.
More than 200 different terpenes and terpenoids have been found in hemp plants. The most common terpenes in hemp are e.g. pinene, myrcene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene and limonene .
Terpenes are found in most plants and fruits and are completely legal and safe. They are widely used in cosmetics and perfumes, for example.
More important than the properties of one particular compound are the interactions of different compounds.
Although it is possible to separate the compounds as well as to prepare them synthetically, their usefulness is best demonstrated by combining them . For this reason, for example, synthetic cannabinoids, which thus mimic the structure and function of only one particular cannabinoid, have never achieved great popularity.
Each variety has a unique chemical composition and a different amount of active compounds. Precisely because of its diversity, cannabis is an extremely interesting subject of medical research.
Endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The endocannabinoid system is our body’s multifunctional neurotransmitter system, which is why we experience the effects of cannabis use. However, it does not exist just because we could enjoy cannabis.
The cannabinoid system plays an important role in many of our body’s physiological functions. It has a variety of effects on pain, eating, energy metabolism, emotional states, memory modulation, and sleep-wake rhythm.