From reptiles to humans to fruit flies, many animals have cannabinoid receptors and produce their own cannabinoids, internally called endocannabinoids. Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of having cannabinoid receptors in our body isn’t just for smoking weed and getting high. Cannabinoid receptors in animals evolved approximately 600 million years old, whereas the cannabis plant species is only about 25 million years old (1). The receptors only got their name because the cannabis plant was discovered by humans long before the receptors were. There are even other plants, such as chocolate, vanilla, and black pepper, that also contain phytocannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system can function 100% on its own without having to consume cannabis
The endocannabinoid system can function 100% on its own without having to consume cannabis, and it is important for regulating the nervous system, immune system, mood, inflammation, and pain. In a healthy person, the endocannabinoid system works properly on its own, and they don’t have any symptoms. In sick people, there can be a dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system or, in other words, a deficiency of endocannabinoids, leading to problems in the nervous and immune systems, mood changes, excess inflammation, and pain (2). In this situation, phytocannabinoids from cannabis can be used therapeutically to modulate the endocannabinoid system and reduce these symptoms. This is why many people say that cannabis makes them feel “normal.” It is not that they just like to get high. The plant is acting as a replacement for a critical biological role, much like someone who is hypothyroid taking replacement thyroid hormone.
There are two cannabinoid receptors in the body, CB1 receptors that are mostly in the nervous system and brain, and CB2 receptors located peripherally throughout the body. The body also produces two main endocannabinoids: anandamide and 2 arachidonogylcerol (2-AG). Anandamide is known as the “bliss molecule” and acts on both CB receptors, but primarily on CB1. It is increased during meditation and is partially responsible for the “runner’s high.” 2-AG acts primarily on the CB2 receptor. Both endocannabinoids are derived from the essential omega-6 fat arachidonic acid. Newer research also shows that there are other cannabinoids made from the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (3).
There are many different phytocannabinoids in cannabis, but the two most important are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is a weak agonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which is what causes the instant mild effect immediately after administering CBD. Over the long term, however, is where most of CBD’s effects takes place. CBD upregulates the endocannabinoid system by decreasing the breakdown of anandamide and increasing the production of 2-AG, causing an increase in both endocannabinoids (4). THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis and is a strong agonist of the CB1 receptor (and to a lesser extent the CB2 receptor). This is why THC has a much stronger effect than CBD. THC and CBD in combination have a synergistic quality. CBD modulates the use of THC, spreading it out more evenly between both receptors. This increases the therapeutic value and lowers the psychoactive effect (5).
CBD derived from industrial hemp is available online in all 50 states and can be very effective.
Some people claim that THC is needed to “activate” CBD, but this is simply untrue. CBD derived from industrial hemp is available online in all 50 states and can be very effective. Many pet stores even sell CBD dog and cat treats now. It doesn’t have any psychoactive effect and it doesn’t increase appetite. CBD is a good option because it doesn’t negatively affect cognitive ability or work performance. In fact, it can increase cognitive performance by lowering neuro-inflammation.
Products containing THC are only available in states where recreational or medical cannabis use is legal. For therapeutic purposes, a combination of CBD and THC is desired. Strains can vary from a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio, all the way up to 20:1. THC is stronger, and may be needed for more severe symptoms and diseases. The downside to using THC is that it is psychoactive and can cause increased appetite and sleepiness, all of which may or may not be desired. A way to get around the psychoactive effects of THC is through THCA, which is the non-psychoactive precursor to THC. THCA has many of the same benefits of THC and will not turn psychoactive unless heated (6, 7). There are ways to extract THCA without heat, but these are hard to find and usually have to be done at home.
Routes of administration:
-Oil-based tinctures and capsules are the most popular, and offer decent absorption. Make sure to use CO2 extracts and not extracts made with harmful solvents like butane.
-Liposomal preparations of oil-based tinctures increase the absorption.
-Topical creams and gels offer good absorption and local reduction of pain. There are high concentrations of CB2 receptors in the skin.
-Rectal and vaginal suppositories have very good absorption, and also have a local effect. They are hard to find, but can easily be made at home.
-Smoking raw plant matter is not recommended because it harms the lungs.
-Vaporizing can be relatively safer than smoking if using a vape oil free of additives, flavorings, and propylene glycol. Inhalation offers close to 100% absorption. There is still some debate as to whether or not vaporizing is any safer than smoking, but I believe the risk of vaporizing a clean extract is fairly low.
-Injectable CBD is starting to become available, but is still hard to find. Injectable is going to have the best absorption.
How to Make CBD Suppositories
CBD oil tincture
Heat the cacao butter in a pan until melted. Add an individual dose of CBD tincture into each mold (suppositories get better absorption so start will about half or less of what you would take orally). Add the melted cacao butter to the molds to fill to the top. Stir each mold with a toothpick so the CBD is mixed into the cacao butter. Put in the freezer to harden. You can store them in the freezer or refrigerator.
Cannabinoid Hot Chocolate Recipe
2 tsp ghee (provides arachidonic acid)
1 tsp coconut oil
Individual dose of CBD tincture. Blending will make liposomes (better absorption) so use less than you would normally take.
1 TBSP raw cacao powder (contains anandamide)
1/8 tsp vanilla powder (contains vanilloids that also work on CB receptors)
pinch of salt
3-4 drops of whole leaf stevia extract to taste
1 cup hot water
Collagen powder (optional)
Put everything in a blender and blend at medium speed for about a minute.
By Bryant Rubright