The Chemistry of Cannabinoids

Cannabis is a plant that produces a large number of chemicals, including cannabinoids  (THC and CBD) and non-cannabinoid phytochemicals. These chemical compounds interact with receptors in the human body to produce a variety of effects on the brain and other parts of the body.

The chemistry of cannabis is critical to the clinical application of its therapeutic properties. This means that cannabis products should be standardized and matched by their chemical composition, or chemovar.


Phytocannabinoids are a group of biosynthetically related terpenophenolic compounds that are produced by Cannabis sativa. These compounds exert pharmacological effects on different biological systems.

Despite the fact that Cannabis sativa is the most well-studied and common source of phytocannabinoids, other plants are also capable of synthesizing them. Several of these metabolites are psychoactive, and some have been found to act as ligands for the cannabinoid receptors.

There are a number of methods used to determine the presence of these compounds. Gas chromatography/electron ionization-mass spectrometry (GC/EI-MS) is a popular analytical technique for this purpose.

GC/EI-MS provides equivalent accuracy, selectivity, linearity, and sensitivity compared to other detectors. Moreover, it has a high degree of analytical precision. This allows for a rapid and reliable identification of phytocannabinoids. Currently, GC/EI-MS is considered one of the most effective analytical techniques for the characterization of cannabinoids. It is essential for the development and commercialization of cannabis products. In addition, it is a powerful tool for the elucidation of the complex nature of these compounds.


Endocannabinoids are endogenous compounds that interact with G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors. They are present in all tissues and organs and regulate metabolism at systems and cellular levels.

There are two well-studied endocannabinoids, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These lipid mediators are involved in the regulation of neuronal function [2,3]. They bind pre-synaptic CB1 receptors and modulate synaptic strength in a short- and long-term manner.

These molecules can be synthesized by enzymes (NAPE-specific phospholipase D and diacylglycerol lipase) in skeletal muscle. Exercise increases these enzymes, which in turn increase AEA and 2-AG concentrations in venous blood.

Circulating endocannabinoids have also been associated with the activity of specific glucocorticoid receptors. This may explain the connection between circulating AEA and the mood-elevating effects of exercise on the central nervous system (CNS). Acute exposure to psychological stress elevates circulating endocannabinoid concentrations in humans (Hill et al, 2009a). In addition, exercise-induced increases in brain BDNF concentrations are positively correlated with circulating AEA concentrations in healthy individuals.


The principal psychoactive component of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This compound interacts with receptors in the brain, particularly in the cerebral cortex and cerebellum.

It can cause elation, anxiety, and tachycardia, among other effects. It can also affect memory and coordination, causing psychomotor impairment.

However, it can have positive effects when taken in moderation. It can help reduce pain and stress.

According to the National Institutes of Health, THC can be toxic if it is abused or used inappropriately. It can also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia in people who have a predisposition to the disease.

The chemistry of THC is quite complicated, and it has many different stereoisomers. It can be metabolized by several enzymes, and it has various side effects.


The chemistry of cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinomimetics is an exciting area of research. However, this field can be daunting to those new to it. It can also be prone to fanciful interpretations and folklore, especially when it comes to cannabis culture.

CBD is an important cannabinoid that works by binding to a receptor on the surface of the cell’s nucleus. It also activates PPARs, which regulate gene expression and mitochondrial activity.

Its mechanism is not yet fully understood, but CBD’s action involves an interplay between fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) and the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2AG. FABPs chaperone these lipid molecules into the cell’s interior and, once inside, escort them to specific targets within the nucleus.

In cancer models, CBD inhibits cell proliferation and increases apoptosis. It does this by stimulating endoplasmic reticular stress through stimulation of TRPV channels and by interacting with the G protein-coupled receptor GPR55. In addition, it stimulates autophagy and reduces cellular migration.

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