Introduction to Cannabinoids

Welcome and thank you for reading our introduction to cannabinoids. When trying to learn about CBD and why it works, it is easy to get lost in all of the vocabulary words that a person will inevitably encounter. I wanted to start a blog on our site that breaks down these vocabulary words and makes it all easier to understand. In this series we will learn about all the basic terms you will need to know to further understand CBD and how it works in our bodies.

I think it makes the most sense to start out with the word: Cannabinoid. Cannabinoid is a word you will read and hear about often in your research on hemp, cannabis, and CBD.  Cannabinoid is also embedded in the term “Endocannabinoid System” which is a system in our bodies responsible for homeostatic regulation. Understanding this system is a crucial part of understanding your overall health and wellness potential, but I digress. We will discuss the endocannabinoid system in the next post.

Back to the vocabulary word of focus; cannabinoid.  A cannabinoid is essentially a molecule. There are three separate cannabinoid classifications.

  1. Phytocannabinoids
  2. Endocannabinoids
  3. Synthetic Cannabinoids

Introduction to Cannabinoids


phytocannabinoid is any cannabinoid that comes from a plant. (The prefix ‘phyto’ comes from Greek meaning plant or literally “that which has grown”.) The two most studied phytocannabinoids currently are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). We will study some of the phyto cannabinoids in much more detail in later posts. Many plants contain phytocannabinoids, but the cannabis sativa plant has a much higher concentration of these molecules than other plants. Some of these other plant species include:

  • Echinacea Purpurea
  • Echinacea Angustifolia
  • Acmella Oleracea (Electric Daisy)
  • Helichrysum Umbraculigerum
  • Radula Marginata (Liverwort)
  • Theobroma Cacao (Chocolate)
  • Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper)

Introduction to Cannabinoids


An Endocannabinoid is any cannabinoid that is produced inside the human body. (The prefix ‘endo’ comes from Greek meaning “within”.) Our bodies naturally produce these cannabinoids within us! The two most studied and understood endocannabinoids are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). We create these molecules naturally within our own bodies. A study performed in 1995 shows that endocannabinoids are present in breast milk. 2-AG is found in much higher levels in human breast milk than anandamide. If you’ve ever experienced a “Runner’s High” or the feeling of euphoria after a strenuous workout, then you have literally felt your endocannabinoid system at work. It was once believed that this feeling of euphoria was caused by endorphins being released, but we now know that it is actually endocannabinoids that play a major role in generating these rewards by activating cannabinoid receptors in brain reward regions during and after exercise.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are cannabinoids that are man-made, normally in a laboratory setting. So far, there have been only a few studies on the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain. A well known synthetic cannabinoid is marketed as “Marinol” and is approved by the FDA. The American Association of Poison Control Centers first received reports about the harmful effects of synthetic cannabinoids in 2009. Since then they have received thousands of calls about exposures.

Direct Hemp will never have products that use synthetic cannabinoids in any way. One of the best parts about phytocannabinoids is how they naturally work with our bodies. I personally don’t see the point in reproducing something that nature has already perfected.

Next Post

Next post we will take a deeper dive into the Endocannabinoid System. We will explore how it was discovered and also talk about how all the cannabinoids mentioned above work and operate within the endocannabinoid system inside us.



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