Cannabinoids are a group of chemical substances that are found in the cannabis plant. They are just one type of chemical compound called cannabinoids, which can be isolated from natural sources or synthesized artificially. Cannabinoids have been studied for their potential therapeutic effects on many diseases and mental disorders such as cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dystonia.
There is currently only one FDA-approved cannabinoid product: Dronabinol (Marinol) which is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy treatments in people who have not responded to standard treatment with other medications.
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Cannabinoids were first discovered in the 1940s when a team of scientists at British pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, were studying cannabis extracts to see if they could treat malaria. They isolated an active compound from cannabis and named it “cannabidiol” (CBD). In the 1960s, another cannabinoid was discovered and named “tetrahydrocannabinol” (THC). THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis and is responsible for its characteristic high.
There are more than 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but only a few have been studied in depth. The most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Other examples include CBC, CBG, THCA, THCV, cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabinol (CBN) among others.
Cannabinoids have been shown to have a range of potential therapeutic benefits, including:
Besides these, cannabinoids have a lot of other benefits which are currently being studied. The cannabis research has taken a significant place in the medical industry and in recent years, the interest in cannabinoids has significantly increased.
Even though research on cannabis and its compounds is growing, many disadvantages hamper further development of cannabinoid-based medicines:
All of these disadvantages need to be taken into account before cannabinoids can become a mainstream treatment option. However, the potential benefits of cannabinoids seem to outweigh the risks, which is why further research is warranted.