Cannabinoids make up a group of diverse yet closely related chemical compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors throughout the mammalian body. In other words, the body has built-in mechanisms for producing and processing cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system, with receptors in the brain and throughout the body’s nervous system, plays a role in various physiological and psychological processes, including appetite, awareness of time, body movement, concentration, memory, mood, the sensations of pain and pleasure, and overall thinking.
Among over a hundred cannabinoids, the most famous is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has been identified as the component of cannabis principally responsible for the substance’s psychoactive effects. Another major constituent of cannabis, and one that has proven even more promising for its health benefits, is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is promising because it doesn’t induce the same psychoactive effects that THC does. According to the NIH: “There is growing interest in the marijuana chemical cannabidiol (CBD) to treat certain conditions such as childhood epilepsy, a disorder that causes a child to have violent seizures. Therefore, scientists have been specially breeding marijuana plants and making CBD in oil form for treatment purposes. These drugs may be less desirable to recreational users because they are not intoxicating.”