What Are Cannabinoids?

What Are Cannabinoids?


When we talk about CBD, we use the word cannabinoid a lot, for the simple reason that CBD is, indeed, a cannabinoid. But what are cannabinoids? How do cannabinoids work? What do cannabinoids do? And do you need to learn how to spell it?

As always, we’re here to tackle these big questions, let’s get into it. 


What Are Cannabinoids? 

The word cannabinoid refers to every substance of a chemical nature that interacts in some way with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. There are many different cannabinoids, a cannabis plant produces around 100 of them, but there are only really two of them you need to be aware of. 

As you’re probably aware, those two cannabinoids, also known as phytocannabinoids (because they are derived from plants) are cannabidiol (CBD to its friends) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC if you’re saving ink). 

We’ve covered the similarities and differences between CBD and THC before, but just to touch on that quickly again here, THC is a psychoactive phytocannabinoid that binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body, CBD is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid that doesn’t bind to receptors, but instead enhances the ability of receptors to bind to naturally occurring cannabinoids (bonus point for the first person to get ‘non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid into a rap song). 

Speaking of naturally occurring cannabinoids. 


What are Endocannabinoids?

Bonus question, we didn’t even tell you this one was coming! We’re full of surprises. 

We’ve kind of giving it away with the lead into this question, but still, endocannabinoids are cannabinoids which occur naturally in the human body, they are part of the endocannabinoid system which also houses multiple cannabinoid receptors. 

Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors and aid in supporting various processes in the body including pain management, appetite, memory, sleep, mood, fertility, and more. 

Basically, the endocannabinoid system is the most important system you’ve probably never heard of, and is the main reason there is so much interest in the potential health benefits of cannabinoids such as CBD. 

There’s still a lot of research necessary into this system, science started to became aware of it properly in the late 1960s, and it’s since been discovered that the endocannabinoid system in organisms dates back some 600 million years, which isn’t necessarily relevant here, but you have to accept, is properly interesting. 


How do Cannabinoids Work?

As mentioned above, THC and CBD, the two cannabinoids we’re focusing on here, interact with the endocannabinoid system in different ways. 

As a psychoactive cannabinoid, THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the same way that endocannabinoids do, and can potentially affect bodily processes as a result, possibly resulting in the munchies and paranoia on one side, and pain relief and assistance with sleep on the other. 

The main focus here, however, is on CBD, mainly because it’s the lesser known of the two (and also because we find it really interesting to talk about, and ultimately, we get to choose what these articles focus on). 

Instead of binding to the cannabinoid receptors in the body (CB1 and CB2 receptors, both of which bind to THC) CBD instead modifies the ability of these receptors to bind to cannabinoids. It is thought by some that this results in CBD actually being anti-psychoactive, lessening the effects of THC, but there is more research necessary there. 

What is known, is that CBD can enhance the natural levels of endocannabinoids in the body by occupying enzymes, and enhance the ability of receptors to bind to them, which has the potential to therefore, enhance the benefits provided by the hard work that the endocannabinoid system does. 

Again, there’s still research necessary, but this is the reason why there is so much interest in the relationship between phytocannabinoids, and specifically CBD, with the endocannabinoid system. 

And there we have it, the word cannabinoids has now lost all meaning due to the repetition of it (that’s called ‘semantic satiation’ and is arguably the most beautiful phrase to say in the English language, by the way) but that is a short, yet we how informative breakdown of what cannabinoids are. 

Not only that, but when you want to sound smart, you now have some funky words like ‘phytocannabinoid’ to throw out at dinner parties to get your win topped up faster. 


Do you have any more questions about cannabinoids? Hit us up in the comments or send us a message and we’ll be happy to answer them for you. 

CBD Ireland? We are here!



The products we sell do not have proven health benefits. While research is being carried out, these products are not, and should not, be considered to be medical products. 

Any information we give in these articles is taken from scientific research, but should not be considered as a statement of fact. Links and information included in these articles do not reflect the opinion of Plant & Hemp. Any link to scientific studies is for information only, and not intended as a proof of any specific fact, or to validate any specific opinion. 

We are simply bringing you the information needed to make an informed decision on what you want to use CBD for, and what you are comfortable using our products for. 

CBD products should not be used as a replacement for any prescribed medication. 

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