Cannabinoids are a diverse class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in the human body (endocannabinoids) and in cannabis plants (phytocannabinoids), and which, through their interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), trigger various physiological actions. Of the approximately 500 natural components in cannabis, more than 140 are classified as phytocannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the best known compound for its psychoactive properties, while cannabidiol (CBD) appears to play the most important role in the plant’s medicinal benefits.
CBD, which has no psychoactive effects, is often isolated for medical use, but some clinical studies suggest that cannabinoids enhance each other and give the best results in the form of the whole plant. CBN, another cannabinoid that is gaining interest from medical researchers, is a natural sedative that appears to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsant properties. Endocannabinoids include anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), which play a role in metabolism, food intake, memory, sensory perception, central nervous system development and synaptic plasticity.