The cannabis plant is the most recognized source of cannabinoid production, and its use has increased significantly in recent years. However, recent research reveals that the cannabis plant isn’t the only one that produces cannabinoid chemical compounds.
The cannabis industry is growing as cannabidiol (CBD) products continue to rise in popularity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declares these products are legal if produced from hemp consisting of less than 0.3 percent THC. Some people may want to know what’s in the products they consume and might have many questions about the sources of CBD.
1. Endocannabinoid production can occur without cannabis use
There are different cannabinoids with different effects: endogenous cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids, acidic cannabinoids, and neutral cannabinoids.
Endogenous cannabinoids, also called endocannabinoids, are cannabinoids produced by the body, while plants produce phytocannabinoids. The term “synthetic cannabinoids” refers to cannabinoids lab-synthesized chemical compounds.
Cannabinoids in their original state before exposure to heat are acidic cannabinoids. Neutral cannabinoids form after prolonged storage, or when cannabinoid acids experience the loss of carbon dioxide.
Examples of phytocannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also called δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (δ9-THC), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN). These phytocannabinoids all come from the cannabis plant.
THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid, CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid, while CBC is non-psychoactive. CBD lacks the psychoactive effects of THC, as it doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptors of the brain. Acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis include cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabichromene carboxylic acid (CBCA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). One of the cannabinoid acids, THCA, lacks the intoxicating effects of THC but converts into THC when exposed to heat or light. THC, when exposed to light and heat, slowly becomes CBN.
Cannabinoids are lipid-based molecules that influence the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can attach to and activate cannabinoid receptors on the brain’s nerve cells. Through this mechanism on receptors, THC can disrupt physical and mental functions and cause psychotropic effects. In the central nervous system, the cannabinoid receptor, CB1 receptor (CB1R), mediates adverse effects caused by THC.
The discovery of endocannabinoids began with the identification of anandamide (AEA). Endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The CB1 receptors (CB1R) and the CB2 receptors (CB2R) are essential to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CB1 is a receptor in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system of the human body, and CB2 in immune cells. CB1 and CB2 activation enable the use of cannabinoids to execute physiological functions such as controlling body temperature and weight gain.
Derived from arachidonic acid, AEA is one of the body’s natural receptor agonists. AEA acts as a neurotransmitter, sending chemical messages between nerve cells in the body. AEA’s bliss-inducing and mood-enhancing effects earned it the name “bliss gene” from researchers.
Scientists recognize the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and use of cannabinoids as a crucial part of physiological processes, including immune system response, pain, inflammation, mood, appetite, weight gain and weight loss, energy metabolism, controlling body temperature, and prenatal and postnatal development.
Researchers continue to conduct clinical trials and examine the ECS role—especially with the rise of the recreational use and therapeutic use of cannabis and medical marijuana in the United States to combat chronic pain and medical conditions.
2. Cannabimimetics, aptly named, mimic the structure of classic cannabinoids
The term cannabimimetic may be unfamiliar to some people. Cannabimimetics are a significant class of non-classical cannabinoids and secondary metabolites. Examples of secondary metabolites are phenolic compounds. Phenolic compounds are abundant in plants and plant-based foods. These chemical compounds mimic the biological activity of classical cannabinoids, despite lacking their structure.
Cannabimimetic ligands can function as agonists or antagonists to cannabinoid receptors and enzyme inhibitors in the ECS.
3. Hemp isn’t the only plant source of cannabinoids
The plant, cannabis Sativa—commonly called hemp—is a well-known source of CBD. Scientists have identified other plants that produce CBD and cannabimimetics.
New research suggests cannabimimetic chemical compounds, such as N-alkylamides, exist in plants. Identified species include black truffles, various echinacea species, rosemary, basil, cloves, flax seeds, black pepper, cinnamon, lavender, cocoa plants, and more.
Reports suggest black truffles contain some levels of AEA and that black pepper contains the cannabimimetic beta-caryophyllene (BCP). This chemical in black pepper binds to CB2 receptors. Recent studies demonstrate that N-alkylamides selectively impact the CB2 receptors and have anti-inflammatory properties similar to AEA.
4. Cannabimimetic plants can’t get you “high”
Cannabis plants typically contain high concentrations of terpenes that produce naturally occurring organic compounds called terpenoids. One effect of terpenoids is an increase in cerebral blood flow. Research demonstrates that cannabis is the only plant that produces THC. Other cannabimimetic plants don’t contain such psychoactive compounds.
5. CBD products and cannabimimetic plants show promise for improving health
Some research findings show that CBD demonstrates pain relief of chronic pain symptoms, and anti-inflammatory properties, and contributes to significant decreases in anxiety symptoms. Some people with irritable bowel syndrome, for instance, reported that CBD, medical marijuana, and hemp product use influenced the relief of their symptoms.CBD indirectly affects receptors in the ECS, generating pain relief, anti-inflammatory, and anxiety-diminishing effects.
CBD doesn’t directly bind to CB1 receptors or CB2 receptors. Known as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid agonists, CBD diminishes the CB1 and CB2 activating properties of other cannabinoids. Increased CBD levels can also increase AEA levels by removing the enzyme that degrades it, increasing its bliss-inducing effects.
Echinaceas and related products receive praise for stress reduction and anti-inflammatory qualities. The BCP in black pepper, another cannabimimetic plant, may enhance the efficacy of anticancer medications.
Recent studies, clinical trials, and drug tests continue to examine how CBD may act as medicine and boost one’s energy metabolism and immune system. More research into phytocannabinoid sources other than hemp could further reveal potential health benefits.
A big part of our mission at CALERIE® is to study and investigate how supplements can assist humans in living longer, higher-quality lives. We believe in discovering safe and healthy ways to limit caloric restriction and promote cellular health. CALERIE® is invested in the research on how cannabinoids can contribute to such wellness and how they play a part in encouraging long, fruitful lives amongst users.