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What are Phytocannabinoids & how do they work?

What does Phytocannabinoid mean?

The word Phytocannabinoid refers to the naturally occurring Cannabinoids present in Cannabis plants. There are over 400 compounds found in the Cannabis family, 60 of which are considered Phytocannabinoids (Such as THCA & CBDA). The majority of these chemicals are stored in the plants resin glands - AKA trichomes.

Cannabis Trichomes containing Cannabinoids used in CBD Oil products

Why are they different to Cannabinoids?

Many of the most well known Chemicals associated with Cannabis such as CBD & THC are not present in Cannabis in it's natural form. In fact, many of  these compounds require a process known as Decarboxylation to change their molecular structure - This process consists of heating the Phytocannabinoids until they reach a specific temperature. This removes the Carboxyl ring or group attached to their molecular chain which changes the way it effects our Endocannabinoid system. For this reason, the most common way Cannabis is taken is by smoking.

The diagram below shows the process in which a Phytocannabinoid (THC for instance) is transformed when subjected to specific temperatures:

Decarboxylation of Cannabinoids such as THC

 

Why are they important?

Phytocannabinoids & Cannabinoids are responsible for most of the effects we see when using Cannabis (In any form). Studies suggest that this is due to the effect they have on our 'Endocannabinoid system' - A biological system made up of Transmitters found around the body. When taken, these Cannabinoids influence physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. 

Below is a diagram displaying the areas of the body where Endocannabinoid receptors are found:

Endocannabinoid system

We will now discuss some particular Phytocannabinoids & their corresponding Cannabinoids:

THCA - THC

CBDA - CBD

CBCA - CBC

CBGVA - CBGV

THCVA - THCV

CBCVA - CBCV

Cannabinoid synthesis