How does cannabis work?
Just like your respiratory and cardiovascular systems, everyone has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system has an important job: It is responsible for keeping all of your other bodily systems in balance with one another as you encounter stress throughout your daily life.
Your ECS is made up of CB1 receptors found in the brain and nervous system, plus CB2 receptors in all of your organs and immune cells. When cannabinoids bind to these receptors, our bodies can communicate more effectively with themselves and return to internal balance.
On a fundamental level, cannabinoids are helping neurotransmitters cross from the presynaptic terminal of one cell to the post-synaptic terminal of another cell at a balanced, healthy rate.
Your ECS is supported by cannabinoids, which are compounds found naturally both within your body and in the cannabis plant.
Cannabis produces phytocannabinoids (phyto = plant) that are very similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids (endo = inside).
Sometimes, our bodies can have an endocannabinoid deficiency and need extra support. If this happens, we can supplement with phytocannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant.
You can think of cannabinoids as you would any other nutrient: If you’re deficient in potassium, your doctor may tell you to eat more bananas. If you’re deficient in cannabinoids, you can consume more cannabis.
Research is showing that some conditions may be directly connected to an endocannabinoid deficiency. This includes migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, and epilepsy.
The 3 Major Types of Cannabis
When it comes to using cannabis, the cannabinoid profile of the plant or product will determine the level of intoxication or “high” you experience. There are over 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but the two most commonly found in dispensaries are THC and CBD. THC and CBD are found in a wide variety of ratios when growing and manufacturing cannabis, and the industry has begun categorizing these into three primary “Types” of cannabis.
Type 1: THC-Dominant
THC is the cannabinoid known for its intoxicating or psychotropic properties. It acts similarly to your body’s own natural endocannabinoids, binding primarily to CB1 receptors in your brain and central nervous system.
Research suggests that THC’s properties include
- 20x the anti-inflammatory action of aspirin
- Muscle relaxant
- Immune modulation
- Appetite stimulant
Type 1 cannabis products are a popular choice for anyone seeking a psychotropic experience alongside their symptom relief and management.
Type 2: Balanced CBD:THC
When balanced with CBD, the psychotropic effects of THC are reduced to create a more mild and balanced experience. While a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC is perfectly balanced, other ratios up to 1:5 or 5:1 could also be considered a Type 2 “balanced” product.
Type 2 cannabis products are a popular choice for anyone new to cannabis who’s looking for symptom relief without getting “too high to function.”
Type 3: CBD-Dominant
CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t create a high when used alone or in the presence of small amounts of THC. This is why it can legally be sold nationwide as long as it’s been derived from hemp with less that 0.3% THC, though common CBD-dominant ratios found in dispensaries include 10:1 and 20:1 CBD:THC.
While CBD can loosely bind to some of your ECS receptors, its primary function is to slow the breakdown of your body’s own naturally produced endocannabinoids so that you can use them more effectively.
Research suggests that CBD’s properties include
- Muscle relaxant
- Immune modulation
Type 3 cannabis products are a popular choice for anyone who is sensitive to THC or looking for symptom relief without experiencing a “high.”
Choosing what’s best for you
When deciding what Type of cannabis product to purchase, consider the type of experience that best suits your lifestyle needs. If you don’t want to get “high,” be sure to start with a CBD-dominant or balanced product.
When dosing any new product, always start low and go slow. We suggest microdosing, which involves the process of using small doses of cannabis to reach your desired effects while reducing the risk of negative side effects such as short-term memory loss, paranoia, or cannabis-induced anxiety. Click here to learn more about microdosing and download our printable guide.
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Created in collaboration with Hempsley, research from Eminent Consulting