The majority of pharmaceutical and academic research & development activities investigating the physiological and disease-fighting properties of cannabis revolves around the understanding of one class of biologically active ingredients, the cannabinoids. In the 1960s, several compounds were isolated from the cannabis plant. While there are over 90 different cannabinoids identified in cannabis, the two most well-known and studied compounds in the cannabis plant also happen to be the two that occur in the largest quantity: ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and cannabidiol (“CBD”). Many of the remaining compounds demonstrate unique properties and mechanisms apart from those of psychotropic THC and non-psychotropic cannabidiol.
While cannabinoids were first discovered in the 1940’s, the structure of THC was first determined in 1964. Due to molecular similarity and ease of synthetic conversion, it was originally believed that CBD was a natural precursor to THC. However, it is now known that CBD and THC are produced independently in the cannabis plant.
Individual cannabinoids affect a range of different receptors in the human body, including, but not limited to, the endocannabinoid receptors. As such, they are responsible for a wide variety of pharmacological effects. However, due to the limited research into these varying effects, a full understanding of the role of each cannabinoid compound is poorly understood.
Cannabinoid cannabinoid-based drugs that were approved by the FDA in 1985. They are a synthetic form of THC, and they are listed as appetite stimulants for people with AIDS and antiemetics for people receiving chemotherapy. Some drugs are intended for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in children. Clinical data showed a significant reduction in the incidence of convulsive seizures. Regulators also examined data on abuse obtained from preclinical and clinical studies, and concluded that “CBD has negligible abuse potential”.
CBD is being studied in clinical trials is being studied in clinical trials for treating anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, and many other hard-to-treat diseases.
Phytocannabinoids occur naturally in the cannabis plant and are concentrated in a viscous resin that is produced in glandular structures known as trichomes. In addition to cannabinoids, the resin is rich in terpenes, which are largely responsible for the scent of the cannabis plant.
There are over ninety known phytocannabinoids. Of these, THC and CBD are the most prevalent and have received the most attention.
THC is the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Medically, it appears to mitigate pain and to be neuroprotective.
CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive and appears to reduce the euphoric effect of THC by blocking the CB1 receptor site. Medically, CBD appears to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea.
Cannabinoids can be administered many ways, including topically (creams, ointments, transdermal patches, etc.); by oral ingestion, sublingual absorption or intravenous injection; as well as by smoking and vaporizing. The time to effect and duration of effect will vary depending on the mode of administration. Once in the body, cannabinoids are metabolized mainly in the liver.