Marijuana has all sorts of social and historical connotations that revolve around getting high. But if you're thinking about being "stoned," you're thinking about the high caused by a specific compound called Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. But what if marijuana didn't get you high? There are actually compounds in weed that have some surprising benefits, minus the stoney feeling. Cannabis is such a chemically complex and controversial little plant.
Let's get into this and start with how cannabis works in the brain. Inside a marijuana plant are over 60 different chemical compounds called cannabinoids that act on the body's endocannabinoid system. And there are two main receptors that cannabinoids bind to, CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located in the brain, particularly the hippocampus, cerebellum, basal ganglia, and the cerebral cortex. The CB2 receptors are located throughout your immune and peripheral nervous system. Think of cannabinoids and receptors like a lock fitting into a key. When the cannabinoid THC hits the body, it'll attach to CB1 receptors in the brain, and will disrupt various mental and physical functions, like memory, concentration and coordination, for instance.
While THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, cannabidiol or CBD is the main non psychoactive compound. The fact that CBD doesn't possess any of the mind-altering, mood distorting properties is what makes it such a promising treatment for a wide range of neurological and immune disorders.
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