A phytocannabinoid is a molecule synthesized by plants. There are 113 known phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant, including CBD and CBG. Phytocannabinoids are used to treat a number of human and animal ailments. In 2008, the journal of Neuroendocrinology Letters published a proposal that some of the chronic health problems many people face may be due to an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency, including migraines and fibromyalgia. As our understanding of phytocannabinoids and their relationship with the human body grows, millions of patients all around the world are gaining access to treating conditions that were previously untreatable.
To understand phytocannabinoids, we first have to understand our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors. When receptors interact with a cannabinoid, they send molecular-messages throughout the cells, tissues, organs, and body. We can think of a cannabinoid and a cannabinoid receptor like a lock and key. A cannabinoid “unlocks” the cannabinoid receptor by physically interacting with it- initiating changes in cells and opening the door to enormous medical benefits for the body and mind. A cannabinoid is a molecule that activates these molecular-messengers, regardless of whether the cannabinoid came from our bodies (an endocannabinoid), or if it came from a plant (a phytocannabinoid). Endocannabinoids activate the same receptors as phytocannabinoids found in Cannabis. This explains why there is enormous medical potential for the use of phytocannabinoids; our bodies possess an endogenous system that responds to what is already present in our bodies and in plants.
Within the Cannabis plant, there are 113 known phytocannabinoids. Some have been found to be more useful than others to medical patients. These components include:
The knowledge of how the endocannabinoid system relates to our physiology and medical needs grows on a daily basis because doctors, biologists and chemists contribute towards research constantly. There are two known groups of cannabinoid receptors; CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoid receptors are classified by the types of cannabinoids that they bind. For example, THC binds the CB1 receptor while CBD weakly binds the CB2 receptor. When a cannabinoid meets with a cannabinoid receptor, the message begins to resonate throughout the cell and eventually reaches out to surrounding cells in a tissue, adjacent tissues in an organ, and neighboring organs in a body. This is why the benefits of phytocannabinoids are so rich; CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and cannabinoids help to reestablish a homeostasis that has been disrupted by genetics or lifestyle factors.