Understanding the Receptors Your Brain Designed for Cannabinoids

Understanding Cannabinoid Receptors

Were our bodies created for marijuana? It seems like a bizarre fact; however, more research is uncovering our endocannabinoid system, helping us achieve many health benefits. Every component found in marijuana benefits us — from the psychoactive THC to the powerful CBD, and even terpenes and non-psychoactive hemp. They attach to our cannabinoid receptors, which contributes to marijuana’s medicinal benefits. The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, was only discovered in the 1980’s. We are currently trying to understand more about our ECS, but research has come a long way.

Medical marijuana is still a topic of debate — stuck between controversy, hindering pharmaceuticals, and competing with those who want to see a change in the medical industry.

Continue reading and learn what current research is saying about our ECS. We aren’t the first people to use cannabis, for both recreational and medicinal use. Marijuana has a rich history. The oldest record of marijuana use dates back to 2727 B.C. Cannabis has its records set in ancient Rome and Greece, the Islamic Empire, North Africa, and ancient China. Both marijuana and hemp were used for practical and medicinal purposes. Medicinal marijuana dates back to 500 B.C. There were burned cannabis seeds in the graves of ancient Shamans.

Modern medicinal research started in the 1830’s. Irish doctor Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy was treating cholera patients in India. He used cannabis as treatment. He discovered it decreased stomach pain and eased nausea. Because of this research, cannabis extract became available in pharmacies across America and Europe. Cannabis treated stomach problems, but patients used them for other ailments.More researchers began studying the effects of THC. Before discovering our ECS, they unveiled THC helps nausea and increases appetite.

Discovering the Endocannabinoid System

When the war on drugs occurred, strict bans were set in place. This illegalized marijuana, classifying cannabis as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. But during this time, our endocannabinoid system was discovered. But in 1964, Israeli scientist Raphael Mecholaum isolated THC from the marijuana plant. By doing this, he discovered CBD. From here, researchers tried to understand why marijuana provided so many health benefits.

While studying the brain of a rat, the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered in 1988. Allyn Howlett and William Devane then uncovered the endocannabinoid system in humans — several cannabinoid receptors located in the brain, more than any other neurotransmitter. In 1990, Lisa Matsuda and her team discovered a rat’s DNA sequence that defines the THC receptor. This receptor is now known as CB1.

In 1993, a second receptor was discovered. Now known as CB2, this receptor was found in areas other than the brain. CB2 receptors exist in the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, and the reproductive organs. As more research progressed, more cannabinoid receptors and discovered and their benefits understood. This mapped our endocannabinoid system and increased our understanding of medical marijuana.

How Our Endocannabinoid System Works

Our endocannabinoid receptors are a combination of cell receptors and their corresponding molecules. When marijuana enters our body, its compounds trigger our cell receptors. Our cell receptors act as a manager or boss for our cells, directing them and telling them what to do. Even though we have multiple cannabinoid receptors, we have two main ones. Here are the functions of CB1 and CB2.


CB1 is one of two of the most powerful cannabinoid receptors. famous for controlling our effects on marijuana’s psychoactive properties. THC is the principal psychoactive component, but THC has a large variety of benefits. When THC directs our cells, it leads to increased mental and neurological function.

Lowers Stress and Anxiety

Are you in a period of high stress? Take some high-THC marijuana. Even though THC has been said to induce anxiety, THC’s effects on your CB1 receptors states the opposite. When THC directs our cannabinoid receptors, our brain process stress differently. CB1 receptors are found in the regions of your brain called amygdala and hippocampus. These regions control emotions and memory. These regions also play a role in multiple mental disorders, including anxiety-specific disorders.

CB1 receptors also correlate with our production of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that evoke pleasure and mood improvement. When CB1 receptors influence dopamine and serotonin, they shut down the amygdala. When less activity occurs in the amygdala, you feel less anxiety.

Helps Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When speaking of the amygdala, this region controls many other mental disorders. One of them includes PTSD. Heightened activity in the amygdala causes mental stressors such as PTSD become worse. THC decreases amygdala activity. Regular cannabis use will continue to decrease amygdala activity.

Decreases Depression

Anandamide and 2-AG are internal cannabinoids in our cannabinoid receptors. They help activate CB1 receptors. Lower levels of anandamide and 2-AG contribute to several psychology ailments, including depression. THC helps improve depression. Continued use combats depression, and can even prevent the development of major depressive disorders.

Improves Sleep

What’s the best feeling in the world, besides a wake and bake? Many cannabis users love using marijuana before sleeping. And there’s evidence why cannabis helps us sleep. High-THC marijuana strains such as indica produce sedative effects. But THC doesn’t induce sleep all by itself. It’s aided by terpenes or the molecules that contribute to marijuana’s iconic smell and taste. Certain strains, such as indica, are produced with sedative terpenes.

These direct your CB1 cells to help you fall asleep. When marijuana directs your CB1 receptors, they help you fall asleep faster. You’ll quickly fall asleep without interference from your symptoms.

Lowers Intestinal Inflammation

While most CB1 receptors are located in your brain, some are located in other areas of your body. There is an abundance of CB1 receptors in your intestines. Some research even states your stomach in the central area of your CB1 receptors.

However, CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in all intestinal layers. This is why THC reduces intestinal inflammation. THC has a strong gut-to-brain connection. CB1 receptors communicate with the brain, losing pain signals and any nausea symptoms. Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) patients receive the biggest benefit when using high-THC marijuana strains to relieve these IBD symptoms.

Lowers Blood Pressure

One of the most popular cannabis inquiries and concerns has to do with blood pressure. Does cannabis benefit or pose a danger of blood pressure? The findings are a little odd. First-time cannabis users experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. However, this increase is mild. But as use continues, your blood pressure decreases. This is why cannabis helps patients with hypertension regulate their blood pressure. The secret comes with the internal cannabinoid anandamide. This cannabinoid helps relax blood vessels so blood flows freely.


CBD, the non-psychoactive marijuana component directs the cells attached to CB2 receptors. CB2 receptors work alongside CB1 receptors and they also work independently. Like CB1 receptors, CB2 receptors are prevalent in the brain, nervous system, and stomach. But CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system, which is why they boast health benefits and healing. Because of this, just about every mental and physical disease can benefit from high-CBD marijuana strains. These health benefits occur when CBD directs CB2 receptors.

Relieves Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain, or Neuropathy, is an extremely painful disorder caused by damaged nerve cells. Most patients are left with powerful and addictive medications, and most are switching to a safer alternative such as marijuana.

Treats Brain Injury

Brain injury occurs when a blow or any sort of force is imposed on the head. But brain injury can result in long-term damage, even when receiving medical help. Symptoms include behavioral differences or issues and struggles with movement. High-CBD and low-THC strains help repair brain cells and preserve cognitive function. Since CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in the brain, both work together to heal the brain. While THC has its benefits, CBD is far more effective at treating brain injuries. For those who suffered a brain injury, CBD can help restore cognitive function and memory.

Helps Cancer Symptoms

CB1 and CB2 receptors both help cancer patients and cancer symptoms. While experts speculate if it can cure already developed cancer, CBD is approved as a medication to reduce the cancer symptoms. However, there is evidence that cannabinoids such as CBD can kill cancer cells, but these tests were only done on mice. To prevent cancer, both THC and CBD are potent antioxidants. They prevent oxidation of the cells, delaying the formation of cancer cells. However, CBD is the recommended cancer-treating cannabinoid.

The Cannabinoid Receptors are Vital for Our Healing

With the research surrounding medicinal marijuana, it seems like marijuana was made for our bodies. Marijuana helps us maintain mental and physical health, assisting everything from anxiety disorders to cancer. We have an extensive endocannabinoid system, but we have two main cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors. The two main marijuana components, THC and CBD, have a direct influence on the way our body heals.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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