Getting started with cannabis

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The Human Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the mammalian central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes including fertility, pregnancy, during pre- and postnatal development, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory, and in mediating the pharmacological effects of cannabis. The ECS is also involved in mediating some of the physiological and cognitive effects of voluntary physical exercise in humans and other animals, such as contributing to exercise-induced euphoria as well as modulating locomotor activity and motivational salience for rewards. In humans, the plasma concentration of certain endocannabinoids (i.e., anandamide) have been found to rise during physical activity; since endocannabinoids can effectively penetrate the blood–brain barrier, it has been suggested that anandamide, along with other euphoriant neurochemicals, contributes to the development of exercise-induced euphoria in humans, a state colloquially referred to as a runner’s high.

Two primary endocannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1, first cloned in 1990; and CB2, cloned in 1993. CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues, and are the main molecular target of the endocannabinoid ligand (binding molecule), anandamide, as well as its mimetic phytocannabinoid, THC. One other main endocannabinoid is 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) which is active at both cannabinoid receptors, along with its own mimetic phytocannabinoid, CBD. 2-AG and CBD are involved in the regulation of appetite, immune system functions and pain management.
— Wikipedia

You get all that?

If it took you a couple of read-through’s you are not alone. The ECS is a simple yet highly complex system that helps regulate a number of things in our bodies, from pain to appetite to stress and nephropathy issues. The unique part of cannabis being we share these things called cannabinoids which are found in nature, specifically the cannabis plant. I like how Martin Lee explains it all in his article on the ECS via his website, Project CBD. Additionally Kristen Williams made this great VIDEO!!!


Cannabinoids

Organic substances present in Cannabis Sativa, having a variety of pharmacologic properties.
— Stedman's Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing

The Breakdown

Categories of cannabinoids; Phytocannabinoids which are cannabis (or other plant species) derived, and endocannabinoids that are produced from within the body recognized by cannabinoid receptors.

Major Phytocannabinoids

CBC (cannabichromene)

CBCV (cannabichromevarin)

CBD (cannabidiol)

CBDA (cannabidiolic acid)

CBDV (cannabidivarin)

CBE (cannabielsoin)

CBG (cannabigerol)

CBGM (cannabigerol monomethyl ether)

CBGV (cannabigerovarin)

CBL (cannabicyclol)

CBN (cannabinol)

CBT (cannabicitran)

CBV (cannabivarin)

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)

THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin)

The Known Endocannabinoids

Anandamide or AEA (Arachidonoylethanolamine)

2-AG (2-Arachidonoylglycerol)

Noladin Ether (2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether)

NADA (N-Arachidonoyl dopamine)

OAE (Virodhamine)


Terpenes

(/ˈtɜːrpiːn/) are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers, and by some insects They often have a strong odor and may protect the plants that produce them by deterring herbivores and by attracting predators and parasites of herbivores. Although sometimes used interchangeably with “terpenes”, terpenoids (or isoprenoids) are modified terpenes as they contain additional functional groups, usually oxygen-containing. Terpenes are hydrocarbons.

Terpenes are the major components of rosin and of turpentine produced from resin. The name “terpene” is derived from the word “terpentine”, an obsolete form of the word “turpentine”. Terpenes are also major biosynthetic building blocks. Steroids, for example, are derivatives of the triterpene squalene.

Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of medicinal plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as fragrances in perfumery, and in medicine and alternative medicines such as aromatherapy. Synthetic variations and derivatives of natural terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of aromas used in perfumery and flavors used in food additives. Vitamin A is a terpenoid.
— Wikipedia

Hooray for Terpenoids!

Aren’t terpenes fascinating?!?!? Used to great effect in essentials oils and herbal homeopathic remedies we shouldn’t be surprised with the enormous impact they have in combination with cannabinoids. Learn more below about how different terpenes are known to provide different effects. There are even products available that are cannabis-free but contain effective cannabis terpenes.

Cannabis Terpenes

  1. Alpha-bisabolol

  2. Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene

  3. Borneol

  4. Camphene

  5. Caryophyllene

  6. Delta 3 Carene

  7. Eucalyptol

  8. Geraniol

  9. Humulene

  10. Limonene

  11. Linalool

  12. Myrcene

  13. Terpineol

  14. Trans-nerolidol

  15. Valencene


Understanding Ratios & Profiles

Lab data sample

The Entourage Effect

The phrase entourage effect was introduced in 1998 by S. Ben-Shabat, and by Raphael Mechoulam, to represent a novel endogenous cannabinoid molecular regulation route. The phrase refers to the compounds present in cannabis supposedly working in concert to create “the sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis”, according to Chris Emerson. Other cannabinoids’, terpenoids’, and flavonoids’ contribution to clinical cannabis effects has been espoused as an “entourage effect”.

The entourage effect is considered a cannabinoid system modulator and is achieved in pain management through increasing receptors affinity to enhance endogenous anandamide activity and/or reducing enzymatic anandamide degradation.
— Wikipedia

Cannabis Lab Testing; Show me the ratios!

This is one of the greatest assets of having access to your products lab testing results and where the road map scenario comes in, with this information comes a great deal of perspective. If you have this level of data on the cannabis product you treat with it gives you an “ingredient” list of what is working, it may also give you some insight into why it may NOT be working. Once you personally have a grasp on what ratios and terpene profiles achieve your desired outcome you know what to look for in a new product. This information is available for cannabis flower and other cannabis consumables like edibles and tinctures, this is also true for any concentrates. By identifying the components that are working you can also determine whether terpene profiles are having an impact on your outcome or not. For example did you vaporize flower to a greater effect than the wax you are using? The flower may have been less mg’s of THC but may have a full profile of cannabinoids and terpenoids. Knowing this information can be game changing for some.

Common ratio jargon you may overhear are: 20:1 (twenty to one), 18:1, 5:1, 3:2, 3:1, 2:1, 1:1. These are references to CBD:THC by content. For example, 1:1 is one measured unit (mg) CBD to the same in THC. Not all ratio’s begin with CBD, always read the label to see how they have it listed for each product or brand.

Discovering the perfect ratio is a personal journey, we all have different body chemistry and varying states of our own endocannabinoid system. A dosage for someone treating migraines will not be the same for everyone, another person treating migraines may also be suffering from an auto-immune deficiency. Due to the homeostasis achieving nature of cannabinoids it all really depends on where you need them for a balanced system.

The Strain Game: What’s in a Name?

Strains, NOT STRANDS, are the cannabis genus and cultivars. Much like a variety of blooms like roses or tulips they are cross-bread, but whereas cultivators of the roses can trademark a genus, cannabis currently does not (as a federally illegal substance) allow for such. So, the standard protocol is individual growers naming any “new” breeds or strains they cultivate. That’s how we end up with names like, “Alaskan Thunderfuck”. There are a large grouping of standard strains that have been grown enough to establish an expected profile, such as Blue Dream, and that information is helpful. But don’t become dependent on name alone, one woman’s Blue Dream is not necessarily another’s.

This is where the importance of understanding cannabinoids and terpenes come in, that is how you determine how to proceed. Pay attention to the full profile, it ALL matters.

Websites like Leafly have expansive online libraries for the various strains and profiles they have come across. This is no substitute for actual lab testing results for the product in your hand. There are actual brands out there that cater to a specific ratio and profile educated consumers, like Dosit and The Legion of Bloom.

Quick note re: Cannabis Ruderalis

There are a lot of assumptions about ruderalis out there. It is a feral genus that grows smaller yet flowers on a faster cycle, this makes cross-breeding beneficial for those looking to speed up their cultivars growth cycle. (aka the auto-flower) It is NOT the “hybrid” in the “Sativa, Indica, Hybrid”, trilogy of old school terminology.

Quick note re: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica

Misnomers in that it is the description given by visual inspection not necessarily the chemical profile.


Know the Law; Recreational/Medicinal

California

Let's Talk Cannabis gives you facts and tips about the new adult-use marijuana law in California. Watch this video to learn more.

Medical Cannabis

State resources and regulations for Medical Cannabis Patients. Costly but ROI is greater with the reduction in taxes with medical status.