Cannabis is an annually flowering herb, sometimes classified as a “weed”, (hence its namesake in recreational usage). Cannabis can be divided into three basic types that originated in different geographic locations and can be recognized by their appearance, growing patterns and effects when consumed. The three varieties are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis. Of these, only Cannabis Sativa and Indica are used for recreational and medical purposes. Cannabis Indica has been reported to cause mellow, relaxed and calm physical effects, whereas Cannabis Sativa has been reported to cause uplifting, energetic and talkative effects. Both types produce euphoria.
Compounds in Cannabis
Cannabis contains over 400 compounds, over 100 of which may be classified as cannabinoids or terpenes. The cannabinoid/terpene profiles of cannabis plants differ between strains and even between individual plants of the same strain as a result of growing conditions, propagation techniques and environmental stressors.
Ecologically, terpenes are used to ward off predators from the plant, but they are valued by humans for their aromatherapeutic potential. It is the terpenes found in cannabis that give strains their characteristic scents and flavours.
Cannabinoids are biologically active molecular compounds that can have a variety of effects on humans when consumed. They are produced in resinous glands called trichomes found in the flowers of female cannabis plants. Cannabinoids have been used for thousands of years around the world for their therapeutic benefits as well as recreationally for their relaxing and euphoric effects.
Cannabinoids in Cannabis
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is the most researched phytocannabinoid. It is responsible for the psychoactive and euphoric effects of cannabis including the high and intoxication. These effects are a result of THC binding to the CB1 receptors of the brain.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive, and unlike THC, does not produce a high or intoxication. CBD binds to CB2 receptors and may be responsible for a number of therapeutic effects including reducing inflammation. There is some evidence that CBD may block or lower some of the psychoactive effects of THC by counteracting excessive stimulation from THC. This may occur when the amount of CBD in the cannabis is the same or higher than the amount of THC.