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A Guide to Cannabinoids – The Science, The Synergy and its Role in Society

People today are more eager than ever to take a more active role in their overall health and wellness. The recent spike in popularity for cannabis and cannabinoid-rich products is a reflection of this movement- one that has led many to want to cultivate a more intentional relationship with this healing herb.

In the last several years there’s been a big spotlight placed on cannabis. It seems as though this medicinal plant is finally getting the recognition it deserves for the many health benefits it offers.  As cannabinoids become one of the most sought-after natural products on the market, we see consumers eager to ask more questions on a personal quest to learn as much as they can about the topic. For this reason, a helpful guide to cannabinoids can assist in educating and clarifying some of the finer points relating to the science of, and the synergy between cannabinoids, as well as some broader questions pertaining to its current place in modern society.

Let’s get started…

The Science-

Cannabinoids affect many important functions in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. CBD for instance has pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, while CBN has been shown to act as a sedative, and is helpful in managing anxiety, while CBC has antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties and helps relieve pain and so on. There has been extensive research regarding the internal interplay when cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and fatty acids all work in concert to abate symptoms of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, fungal, bacterial infections and more.

Each cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. Here are some of the more common ones along with their specific function:

  • Cannabinol (CBN): sedative, antibiotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): anticonvulsant, antioxidant, reduces anxiety, treats psychotic disorders, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and relieves spasms
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, induces a euphoric high, relieves pain
  • Cannabigerol (CBG): antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain
  • Cannabichromene (CBC): antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): induces a euphoric high and relieves anxiety.


But how does it work?…

Cannabinoids have a profound and positive impact on the body’s own receptor system. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how those chemical compounds interact with each other and within the human body. Although there is increasing evidence that there may be more types, today we know about two receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors are distributed on the surface of many different types of cells in the body. CB1 receptors are found primarily on neurons in the brain- like in the amygdala, which influence emotions such as fear and anxiety. A high density of CB1 receptors are also found in the hippocampus, those influence the learning and absorption of new information as well as memory integration. As for the second class of receptor, CB2, those are more abundant in the central nervous system and in the peripheral tissues and organs, particularly in the immune system cells and thus are thought to act in a primarily protective role.

-The Synergy-

Medicinal plants like cannabis contain a wide variety of potentially beneficial compounds. Choosing between full-spectrum and isolate-type products is an important choice when deciding what products to start using. In full-spectrum phytocannabinoid products, the “whole-plant” is used and nothing is held back or left out. That is because whole-plant or FULL-SPECTRUM products are known to include not just CBD but trace amounts of different cannabinoids which introduce various potential benefits that can address a wide variety of ailments both on their own and in conjunction with one another. An isolate is of course effective but studies show that full spectrum CBD is capable of offering greater levels of relief. That is because full-spectrum oils include a wide range of cannabinoids which work synergistically. People seem to respond better to products which contain multiple cannabinoids opposed to single cannabinoids in isolation. And, unsurprisingly, this finding is in line with how cannabinoids are found in nature as opposed to being produced synthetically in a lab. As we can see, when certain isolated components are combined together, they produce a greater more tangible benefit to the user—and this interaction actually has a name, it’s known as the entourage effect.

The term entourage effect was first used decades ago by two Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam upon realizing that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant actually work in a similar way as the body’s own endocannabinoid system. Each separate cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. While researchers agree that more studies are needed to understand the entourage effect, many can attest that the heightened efficacy when compounds operate together is real and not imagined.  Not only can this be seen between certain cannabinoids but also in how terpenes and flavonoids work synergistically increasing the cerebral blood flow while impacting the blood-brain barrier.  As research continues, our knowledge will collectively broaden. The good news is that the field is wide open for greater exploration and development.


As the popularity of hemp-derived products continue to grow, so has its acceptance across many of the states in America. Just this summer, a major step was taken to pass legislation that would legalize hemp as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Many agree we seem to be moving in the right direction amidst the changing political landscape of today although, “Is it legal?” is still a common question. Many wish the answers were more straightforward but the reason for the current murkiness is because there are different laws in different states, as well as different laws at the state and also federal levels.

CBD oil that is hemp-derived and consists of no illegal amounts of THC is legal in most states. As of this year, there are states where the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis is also completely legal. They are Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. That means if you live in these states, you are free to use CBD and other products without a prescription. Unfortunately, it seems as though laws are constantly in flux, which adds to the legal confusion. Hopefully, there will be more clarity and consistency coming from state and federal authorities sometime in the near future.

So the short answer to, “Is it legal?’ is, there is no short answer. You must check the local law in the state where you live- and stay up on any and all changes. If you live in a state where the recreational use of cannabis is legal, you can use CBD that comes from marijuana or hemp without issue (with the exception of California and provided you are at least 21 years of age). If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, and you have a prescription, you are also in the clear. For everyone else in the country, the laws surrounding CBD are stuck in a temporary gray zone. Eventually, many believe that all the states in the country, even the most culturally conservative ones will submit to peoples’ demands and the growing scientific research and legalize cannabis use for medical purposes- once and for all.

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