What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are active and medicinally beneficial chemical compounds found in both cannabis and hemp plants. Cannabinoids occur naturally and are partially responsible for medicinal and psychoactive effects of both cannabis and hemp. Currently there are more than 110 known cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are not limited to hemp and cannabis plants. The human body naturally produces cannabinoids (through the endocannabinoid system).

Currently, the most popular cannabis and hemp cannabinoids are CBD, CBDa, CBDV, CBG, CBN, and CBC.

How do cannabinoids affect humans?

Cannabinoids enter the body and bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system’s two main responsibilities are regulate health and promote balance throughout the body. It is responsible for influencing and regulating human cells, glands, tissues, and organ systems.

The cell receptors that make use of cannabinoids are located all over the body from the deepest primal parts of the brain to the surface of the skin. This means that cannabinoids can be consumed in a variety of ways (topically, smoked, eaten) or through a variety of delivery methods (lotion, food, flower, oil).

How do cannabinoids affect dogs?

Research indicates cannabinoids affect dogs similarly to the way they affect humans. Currently, there is no definitive scientific data about CBD and its affects on dogs, however, anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggest it can treat pain and help control the frequency of seizures.

Full-spectrum products

Each cannabinoid is unique and has specific traits. However, they work better in the whole plant or as a plant-based extract than they do as isolated products. In some cases, it is necessary to take an isolate cannabinoid. For example, government workers, professional athletes, and employees who must take drug tests might prefer an isolate cannabinoid to lower their chances of testing positive. Unfortunately, a small percentage of CBD transforms into THC once it enters the body.

How are cannabinoids different in cannabis and hemp?

Both hemp and cannabis can be full spectrum. The main differences between hemp and cannabis chemicals are the amount of each of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, esters, and lactones they contain.


CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the most popular cannabinoids. It is one of the most abundant nonintoxicating compound found in hemp and cannabis. It can be purchased as an isolate or ‘full-spectrum’. CBD works seamlessly with our own natural bodily systems, producing its effects at the molecular level and going far beyond symptom relief to actually helping our body heal itself without the impairment associated with THC. CBD’s effects on our most basic bodily functions while working all over the body at the cellular level means it has the potential to help alleviate several different conditions.

Research indicates CBD could be used for several different aliments, including but not limited to reducing pain levels, alleviating skin irritation, and helping with anxiety. It has anti-cancer, anti-nausea and vomiting, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, and anti-psoriatic properties. CBD is also used as an enhancement to a variety of skincare lotions and creams.

CBD is a neuroprotectant that protects our brains. Specifically, CBD helps reduce damage to the brain and nervous system and encourages the growth and development of new neurons. Research indicates CBD can stimulate cell growth after temporary neuro damage caused by traumatic blows, genetic disorders, and autoimmune disorders.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are a big deal. Inflammation is the common cause of many forms of disease. CBD helps reduce inflammation in both the brain and the body which has significant implications on improving health and well-being.

CBD can also bind to serotonin receptors in the brain (and possibly the gut) which shows promise as a treatment to help impact anxiety, appetite, sleep, moods, perception of pain, nausea, vomiting, body temperature, and libido.

Once inside the body, a small percentage of CBD transforms into THC. This small percentage of THC could cause a drug test to come back positive.

CBD medicinal effects

Currently, CBD is being studied for the following properties

  • anti-anxiety: combats neurodegenerative disorders
  • anti-psychotic: combats psychosis disorders
  • anti-emetric: combats nausea and vomiting
  • anti-convulsant: combats seizure activity
  • anti-inflammatory: combats inflammatory disorders
  • anti-cancer: combats tumor and cancer cell

CBD lethal overdose?

The National Cancer Institute states “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brain stem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”


CBDa (cannabidiolic acid) is found in live and raw forms of cannabis and hemp and might be able to relieve pain, reduce anxiety, lower stress levels, reduce the number of seizures and convulsions, help stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and suppress muscle spasms.

CBDA is a primer to CBD. It is converted to CBD when cannabis is exposed to high temperatures or sunlight and is does not cause a ‘high’ when consumed in an isolated state.


CBDV (cannabidivarin) is not intoxicating when isolated, and will not cause the ‘high’ associated with THC.

CBDV has been shown to have bone stimulant and anti-seizure properties. GW Pharmaceuticals, which developed the first FDA-approved CBD drug (Epidiolex), is actively developing a  to reduce or prevent seizures caused by epilepsy.


CBG (cannabigirol) is typically present in small quantities (1%) in most cannabis and hemp plants. It is often referred to as the ‘stem cell’ of cannabis and hemp plants and has antibacterial properties. CBG is a primer to CBC.


CBN (cannabinol) is the cannabinoid created from aging (old) THC. It is found in very small quantities in fresh cannabis plants. CBN is usually found in old cannabis and hemp plants and has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. Notably, the anti-cancer properties involve regulating cell death. Did you know most cannabis purchased at a legal dispensary is 6-9 months old? Because of the age, cannabis purchased at a legal dispensary is likely to have a higher concentration of CBN than homegrown cannabis or hemp.

CBN has limited impact on the central nervous system. CBN is most effective on the immune cells. Specifically CBN works with T-cells, B-cells, macrophages, and dendrite cells to build strong immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory responses.


CBC (cannabichromene) is made from CBG and has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, bone stimulant, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.

Which cannabinoid is best?

Cannabis-based treatments and supplements must be tailored to the individual because every body and every endocannabinoid system is different.

When deciding whether to use a specific cannabinoid like CBD or a full-spectrum product, it is best to talk with a doctor or medical practitioner that is knowledgeable about medicinal cannabis. This is important because cannabinoids have different effects and even small amounts of cannabinoids can have an ‘entourage’ effect that vary with different disease and specific aspects of the same disease. Cannabinoids seem to work together in a synergistic way. Working together, cannabinoids can provide a better therapeutic result than any one cannabinoid can do individually. Pure also has a CBD has a narrow dose range. Too much CBD can be ineffective for treating pain and inflammation. Too little CBD can also be ineffective. For treatment to be successful, the right dosage is needed.

Males and females might react differently to medicinal cannabis and hemp

Men, women, and intersexed individuals have different bodies with different hormonal compositions. For example, men usually have higher levels of testosterone than women. The difference in hormonal levels will affect the way medicinal cannabis interacts with the body.

MamasHealth acknowledges that research on cannabinoids and the effects of cannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system are rapidly evolving and the range of possible findings remains wide. MamasHealth makes no claims that cannabinoid products are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and recommends all individuals consult with their health care professionals prior to using cannabinoids.