Cannabis has close to 500 active chemical compounds, 113 of which are cannabinoids (e.g., THC and CBD). A cannabinoid is one of those diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. Cannabinoids imitate compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which help to maintain internal health and stability.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain (CB-1 and CB-2). Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. Depending on a cannabis product’s cannabinoid profile, different types of relief are achievable.
The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis (THC gets you high). Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant. CBD is probably the most abundant cannabinoid, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. CBD does not appear to have any intoxicating effects (CBD doesn’t get you high) such as those caused by THC in cannabis (CBD actually lessens the psychoactive effects of THC) but may have effects on anxiety and an antipsychotic effect.
THC and CBD are two of the most important and common cannabinoids – but they are vastly different. Check out this amazing infographic from Visual Capitalists that compares the differences between THC and CBD.