What Are Cannabinoids?


Cannabinoids are naturally occurring molecules that hold the key to many health benefits.

Initially discovered by British chemist Robert S. Cahn in 1940, a cannabinoid is any one of a diverse class of chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors (CB1 or CB2). These receptors, plus the cannabinoids that activate them, comprise the endocannabinoid system (ECS) found in virtually every part of human physiology. This network strongly affects neurotransmitter release and nearly every facet of our existence.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

  • Present in all humans
  • Present in all vertebrates and many invertebrates
  • Receptors exist throughout the body (brain, digestive system, lymphatic system)
  • Taught in only 13% of medical, nursing and pharmacy programs
  • Can be activated by going for a run, i.e. "runner's high"
  • May be activated during osteopathic manipulation and acupuncture
  • Consists of CB1 & CB2 receptors

There are three primary types of cannabinoids - endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids (from Latin 'endo' meaning 'internal') are cannabinoids naturally produced within the body. The two most well-studied endocannabinoids are anandamide (from the Sanskrit root 'Ananda,' meaning bliss, joy, and happiness) and 2-AG.

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced within plants, 144 of which we currently know. Plants that produce cannabinoids include Kava, Rosemary, Liverwort, Electric Daisy, Echinacea, Cacao, Helichrysum, Pepper Trees, Black Truffles, and of course, Cannabis. There is even a strain of yeast (Pichia pastoris) with the unique ability to synthesize THCA.

Synthetic cannabinoids come in various forms, but as we do not generally support their usage, we will not discuss them here.

What is the function of Cannabinoids?


While the purpose of cannabinoids in plants remains unclear, the most popular hypothesis suggests they act to protect the plant from insects, bacteria, fungi, ultraviolet radiation, and drying.

In humans, cannabinoids are ‘retrograde transmitters’ because they travel backward against the typical flow of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and glutamate). In this sense, you can easily understand cannabinoids as a ‘flow-control’ mechanism. 

For example, imagine a presynaptic cell whose function is releasing dopamine. Typically, cannabinoid receptors will be densely populated on this neuron close to where the dopamine is released. To avoid excessive stimulation, the tissue surrounding the postsynaptic neuron will synthesize a cannabinoid and release it. As this cannabinoid binds to the receptors on the presynaptic cell, dopamine flow reduces, and you achieve homeostasis. 

This process highlights another critical difference of cannabinoids from traditional neurotransmitters (which the body manufactures and stores in the presynaptic vesicle for later use). Cannabinoids are thought to be instead biosynthesized as needed, and are an integral part of nearly all human tissues.

Endocannabinoids and the Immune System

You can imagine why a lack of internal cannabinoids might cause your mind and body to run haywire - imagine a busy four-way intersection with malfunctioning stop lights - absolute chaos. A great example is in the case of acne; cannabinoid receptors are intimately intertwined with sebaceous glands - a lack of cannabinoids to regulate this oil-producing gland can wreak havoc that all too many know well. 

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) is hypothesized to be at the root of many chronic health conditions that have, up until now, been thought to be untreatable. This new diagnosis is gaining more and more traction among the medical and scientific communities.

There are four distinct ways that your endocannabinoid system can be out of balance:

  • Excessive enzymes interrupting endocannabinoids
  • Insufficient endocannabinoid production
  • Inefficient signaling between cannabinoid receptors
  • Lack of cannabinoid receptors  

It's difficult to say what's causing wide-spread issues with our ECS, but environmental pollution and stressful modern lifestyles are two likely culprits.

How CBD Affects the Endocannabinoid System

CBD demonstrates multiple mechanisms of action, one of which is increasing your body's level of anandamide, your natural "bliss" neurotransmitter. Numerous NIH studies show that CBD inhibits FAAH activity, which is responsible for the deterioration of anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine). CBD also inhibits anandamide reuptake.

The scientists who discovered and isolated the neurotransmitter anandamide found that it contributes to elevated mood. Unfortunately, endogenous anandamide levels are naturally low, and the half-life is a brief five minutes. CBD plays a vital role in inhibiting anandamide degradation and enhancing endogenous endocannabinoid levels. CBG and CBC, other cannabinoids present in Ananda Hemp, also increase anandamide levels.

Is CBD Oil safe?

  • Unlike THC, CBD is not "psychoactive" or intoxicating. Early studies show that even at extremely high doses, CBD remained non-psychoactive. In other words, CBD will not cause a "high".
  • The World Health Organization's 2018 statement on CBD confirmed that CBD has an excellent safety profile, is well-tolerated, and does not pose a public health threat.
  • CBD is metabolized through the liver, via CYP450 enzymes and may not be suitable for those suffering from certain liver disorders.
  • CBD may interact with some medications or supplements.
  • CBD's safety has not been evaluated during pregnancy or breastfeeding or for children under two years old.

At Ananda Hemp, our passion lies in customer health and wellness, quality, and transparency. We test all of our products through third-party laboratories and publish the Certificates of Analysis alongside each product on our online store.

All of our formulas are 100% free of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, microbials, and residual solvents. We are certified glyphosate free, and always 100% Non-GMO, employing conscious growing techniques throughout our farms.