How Do Cannabinoids Work?

Chemical substances present in hemp and cannabis, but also in the human body, cannabinoids are one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century in terms of health and well-being. How Do Cannabinoids Work?

What Are cannabinoids?

Every living being is composed of a very large number of molecules. Each one has its own importance and function. This is as true for a human being as for a plant. And it just so happens that both have something in common: cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids were discovered in the 1940s. CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBN (Cannabinol) were the very first to be identified. We did not suspect at the time that we would later find more than a hundred … and it is not finished! Teams of researchers continue to study the question at the time of writing these lines.

How Do Cannabinoids Work?

But what exactly is a cannabinoid? Just as chlorophyll gives cannabis its green color, cannabinoids perform certain functions and participate in the biological structure of cannabis sativa and certain other plants. Without them, cannabis would not exist as we know it… and neither would humans.

The endocannabinoid system

There are two types of cannabinoids (if we put aside the synthetic cannabinoids):


Phytocannabinoids are produced by certain plants (notably cannabis sativa and hemp). They do not play a direct role in the growth of the plant, but rather focus on its protection. To summarize somewhat crudely, phytocannabinoids are the immune system of cannabis.


Endocannabinoids are directly produced by the human body. That’s right! You will have noticed the prefix “endo” which means “inside”. Cannabinoids are therefore naturally present in each and every one of us.

Cannabinoid Receptors

In our central and peripheral nervous system, we have what are called receptors. Answering to the names of CB1 and CB2, they welcome cannabinoids and trigger chemical reactions according to them. CB1s are located mainly in the brain, while CB2s are located in the rest of the body. The THC molecule, for example, reacts with CB1 receptors. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because we hear a lot about it: it’s the cannabinoid responsible for the psychotropic effect of cannabis.

The most common illustration used to talk about the endocannabinoid system is the lock and key metaphor. Think of cannabinoids as keys and receptors as locks.

Locks are distributed in various places in our body. Depending on stimuli, the endocannabinoid system will react and send keys to open some of them. Its ultimate goal is homeostasis, a state of biological balance. For example, if you are stressed, your blood pressure will tend to rise. The endocannabinoid system will then seek to restore the state of balance within your body.

This is a revolutionary discovery and research in this field is constantly progressing. Most importantly, the discovery is recent and advances have been greatly slowed by restrictive laws on the use of cannabis. It is now known that the benefits of cannabinoids contained in cannabis are numerous and consequent and that it is not appropriate to focus only on THC, used mainly for recreational purposes because of its psychotropic capacity.

Phytocannabinoids are therefore very important as they can have a direct influence on the human body, hence the recent development of many cannabinoid-based products from the plant world. These will awaken the CB1 and CB2 receptors and trigger various beneficial reactions in the body.

Summary on How Do Cannabinoids Work?

Cannabinoids are part of a complex reactive system.

Was How Do Cannabinoids Work useful? Explore the Cannabinoids individually, or how they work together with the CBD Entourage Effect.

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