Marijuana Smile

Cannabis Reactions

People often react very differently to cannabis consumption. For many, it’s a relaxing, even meditative experience, while others often feel anxious and paranoid. Some find a small, light dosage effective. Others need high quantities of extremely strong cannabis to feel any effects at all. So why do our reactions vary so widely? Today, we’ll explore a few fundamental components of our reactions to cannabis consumption.

The Endocannabinoid System

Our bodies process the cannabis plant through the endocannabinoid system. This system helps us maintain homeostasis. It works by producing endocannabinoids, natural chemicals that help our bodies with bioregulation. Endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system play a crucial role in regulating a variety of biological functions, including our reaction to chronic stress, nervous system functions, and even our body’s response to cancer.

Cannabinoids are chemicals naturally secreted by the cannabis plant. They mirror the endocannabinoids produced by our body, and interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar manner. These interactions help cause the plant’s psychoactive effects and therapeutic effects.

THC vs CBD

One of the most well known cannabinoids is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This cannabinoid is primarily responsible for the high we associate with the cannabis plant. It also stimulates appetite, can reduce muscle spasms and vomiting, and relieves pain.  For some, THC can cause anxiety. Understanding your sensitivity to THC can help you better regulate the psychological effects you experience, and help you deal with any feelings of anxiety or paranoia.

You may also be familiar with cannabidiol, or CBD. Unlike THC, cannabidiol does not cause any psychoactive effects. It does, however, produce a wide variety of therapeutic benefits. Early research shows that it may be effective in treating several particularly difficult diseases, including multiple sclerosis, post traumatic stress disorder, and Crohn’s disease. It can also reduce anxiety, and may strengthen the painkilling effects of THC.

While THC and CBD are naturally found in the highest relative quantities of all the cannabinoids, it’s important to remember that there are over 100 different cannabinoids, and they all have different effects. Cannabinol, or CBN, for example, can induce sleep and help relieve pain. Additionally, because everyone has a different endocannabinoid system, different consumers experience some effects more strongly than others.

Other Factors

Cannabinoids are not the only factor at work in our reactions to cannabis. The essential oils of the cannabis plant, called terpenes, can alter the kind of psychoactive effects experienced, as well as what therapeutic benefits result.

Psychological factors are also important. How comfortable you feel with your environment, your mood while consuming cannabis, and what you expect to feel can alter the intensity of psychological effects and whether or not you experience anxiety. Gender may also be a factor — recent research indicates that women may be more sensitive to THC than men. As we explored today, we all experience cannabis differently. So take your time, and find out what works for you.

 

 

Bud

Know Your Bud

For those of you new to cannabis, what’s inside of any variety of ganja can be a bit overwhelming. To help you navigate the sometimes seemingly endless array of weed-related jargon, we’ve prepared an intro for you on the primary source of all your favorite cannabis products: bud, or flower.

What is it?

Bud is the literal flower of the cannabis plant, thus why you may hear it called both bud and flower. It contains weed’s active ingredients: cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids and the ECS

Cannabinoids are the chemicals secreted by the cannabis plant. Most people are familiar with the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as it plays a primary role in cannabis’ psychoactive effects (it gets you stoned). However, there are actually at least 85 cannabinoids, each with a variety of psychoactive effects and/or therapeutic benefits. Cannabinoids interact with your body via the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The ECS is endogenous to the human body. Your body produces its own version of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids. These help your body maintain homeostasis. How cannabinoids interact with your ECS and the endocannabinoids it produces will help determine both what kind of high you will get and what other therapeutic benefits the plant might yield.

Terpenes

Terpenes are the essential oil of the cannabis plant. They’re what give each variety of bud its own distinctive smell. Terpenes affect the way in which cannabinoids interact with your ECS. They can alter your high, or provide additional therapeutic effects.

Species

Cannabis intended for human consumption comes in two different species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The third species, Cannabis ruderalis, contains too little cannabinoids and terpenes to be of much interest for cannabis consumers. These species refer to the plant’s phenotype — its easily observable traits, such as its appearance, smell, etc. Generally, sativas are known for their cerebral effects, and indicas for their soothing body effects.

However, since indica and sativa refer to the plant’s external, easily observable traits (and not its cannabinoid and terpene composition or its genetic makeup), it’s hard to say the exact effect of a cannabis plant of either species. Further, most cannabis today is some combination of the two, often referred to as a ‘hybrid’.

Strains

The strain of any cannabis plant refers to its genealogy (its parents, grandparents, etc.) A plant’s strain will tell you if it is an indica, sativa, or a combination of both. They are also generally indicative of its cannabinoid and terpene content, although this varies considerably from grower to grower.

We hope you’ve found this intro helpful. Keep an eye out for further introductory posts on different cannabis products and ingestion methods, and don’t forget to stop by Substance soon to put your weed knowledge to work!

Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabis Supplements: Caring for Your ECS

As you may know, the effects of cannabis are due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is the system by which cannabinoids, the chemical compounds secreted by the cannabis plant, interact with the human body. The ECS helps the human body maintain homeostasis, meaning that it remains constant, well-regulated, and healthy.

It was previously believed that the cannabis plant was the only source of cannabinoids. However, evidence is beginning to suggest that this may not be the case, and that there may be other ways to care for your ECS. In a recent paper, neurologist and pharmacology researcher Dr. Ethan Russo highlighted how some plants may be able to supplement the ECS. Below, we have outlined how some of these plants may help your body stay in balance.

ECS Receptors:
CB1 and CB2

The endocannabinoid system has two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and central nervous system, although they are found in other tissues to a lesser degree. CB2 receptors, by contrast, are found primarily in peripheral organs, especially in cells associated with the immune system.

CB1 Stimulators

To provide your CB1 receptors with some extra care, consider consuming frankincense or kava. Frankincense displays anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic effects similar to those of cannabis. It can be purchased as an essential oil and consumed by applying to the skin, usually with the help of a carrier oil, or inhaled. Large quantities can be toxic, however, so take care when inhaling.

Kava, a root native to the South Pacific islands, can produce calming effects similar to cannabis. It is usually consumed as a tea or tincture, and can be found at most herbalists. While there were concerns over one particular preparation causing liver damage in the past, this preparation is no longer commercially available, and Dr. Russo notes that it has a long history of safe use in Polynesia.

CB2 Stimulators

As it turns out, a variety of household items and commonly used plants may contain an agent of use to your ECS: beta-caryophyllene. Because of the way it interacts with your CB2 receptors, beta-caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be found in black pepper, lemon balm, cloves, and hops (which is, of course, used to prepare beer).

These are just a few of the non-cannabis plants that may help care for your ECS. For a complete overview, check out this interview with Dr. Russo. Don’t forget, however, that nothing stimulates your endocannabinoid system like cannabis itself, so be sure to stop by Substance soon!

Cannabinol in 3D

Lesser-Known Cannabinoids: CBN

As you may know, many of the effects of the cannabis plant are due to the chemical compounds it secretes, called cannabinoids. While almost everyone is familiar with the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, there are actually over 100 cannabinoids. Recent popular and scientific interest in the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol, or CBD, has brought long-overdue attention to some of these other, lesser-known cannabinoids. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of them: cannabinol, or CBN.

Where does it come from?

Cannabinol is a product of degradation. When cannabis oxidizes, THCA, the precursor to THC, degrades and forms CBNA. Oxidation occurs naturally with time, or with exposure to the air.

For this reason, poorly-cared for and older bud will often have higher concentrations of CBNA. Upon exposure to heat or UV rays — that is, when you smoke it or leave it in the sun –, CBNA then becomes CBN.

CBN and sleep

CBN and CBN-rich strains are known for inducing sleep. For those of you with insomnia or other sleep-related problems, CBN-heavy bud could be a good solution.

Indica and indica-dominant strains are also known for their sleep-inducing qualities. Researchers believe that this may be due in part to their tendency to have higher concentrations of CBN.

As we explored in our last post, some non-cannabis plants may also be beneficial for the endocannabinoid system. Some may also act synergistically with cannabis and cannabinoids. CBN, for example, tends to be a more effective sleep aid when consumed alongside hops, lavender, and chamomile.

Other therapeutic effects

CBN is also known to be anti-bacterial. Studies have shown its potential use as a topical in treating MRSA, an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria that has developed resistance to many traditional antibiotics.

It may also aid in bone-growth. Further research is needed, but it has demonstrated potential to help treat osteoporosis and aid the recovery of broken bones.

As the body of research on cannabis grows, we will likely continue to discover therapeutic benefits of CBN and other cannabinoids. Here at Substance, we hope to continue to seeing roadblocks to this kind of meaningful cannabis research removed.