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This cannabinoid profile, instead of profiling a specific cannabinoid, will describe the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the main receptor sites for the body’s endocannabinoid system and interact with all currently identified cannabinoids in some way. A scientific understanding of these receptor points and how the 70+ cannabinoids interact with them and with each other is crucial to the future of using cannabis as a medicine.

As of the time of this writing, the CB1 and CB2 receptors are the only receptor sites that have been identified that make up the endocannabinoid system. It is suspected that another site exists in the brain, possibly at the TrpV1 receptor or the 5HT1a receptor. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are coupled to G-proteins; CB1 receptors are present in the central nervous system, and both types of receptors are also located throughout the body at certain key points (immune, reproductive).

Here is the general layout for CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body.

The above map shows natural concentrations of CB1/CB2 sites and describes the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is kind of like the body’s natural THC. Anandamide is one of six endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonists that have been identified. An “endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonist” is a cannabinoid made inside your body that triggers a reaction at a particular point. These endocannabinoids are the chemicals that phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) emulate within our bodies to produce their effects.

Many of the effects of these various endo- and phyto-cannabinoids are on our brain. There are numerous locations throughout the brain where CB1 receptors have been found as well as activity at the TrpV1 receptor and 5HT1a receptors.

This is your brain on medicine.

Dispersed throughout the human brain, CB1 receptors control everything from basics like movement and pain perception all the way up to our higher cognitive functions and learning, which may explain why cannabinoids have been found in breast milk in multiple studies.

The sheer pervasiveness and versatility of endocannabinoid receptors have led some eminent scientists to speculate whether a healthy endocannabinoid system may be required for healthy human functioning. That isn’t to say everyone must use cannabis to be healthy, but it does mean that deficient endocannabinoid systems need to be supplemented somehow. Fortunately for us, nature has, as usual, provided a cure.

Cannabinoid Profiles Series

1. Meet Your CB Receptors [this post]

2. A Crash Course in THC