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What the difference between “Marijuana” and “Cannabis?”

The word “Cannabis” refers to all products derived from the Cannabis sativa Plant.

The term “Marijuana” refers to the portion of that plant that contains THC, the signature psychoactive cannabinoid in Cannabis.


What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a class of components derived from hemp and cannabis which directly interact with the cannabinoid receptors found throughout the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The main two cannabinoids that are most talked about are THC and CBD.  There are over 150 different cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant.


Can cannabinoids help treat different health conditions?

Early studies suggest that cannabinoids can help treat a wide array of health conditions, Including:

  • Pain Relief
  • Addiction mediation
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Enhance Appetite for HIV/AIDS and cancer patients.
  • IBD
  • IBS
  • Movement and balance disorders
  • MS
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • PTSD
  • Sleep Disorders



Cannabinoids and the body


The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system responsible for regulating a variety of physiological processes, including:

  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Appetite
  • Memory
  • Reproduction and Fertility

Basically, the ECS is there to help maintain the body’s natural homeostasis, which refers to the stability of your internal environment.

The ECS is made up of three components (endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes).

  • Endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids are molecules made and regulated by the body, and are responsible for keeping internal functions in the body running smoothly.

This similarity in structure between Endocannabinoids (produced in your body) and Cannabinoids (produced from the Cannabis sativa plant)  allows them to interact with receptors in the ECS.  These receptors are called Endocannabinoid receptors and are found throughout the body. 

  • Endocannabinoid Receptors

There are two main receptors in the Endocannabinoid system: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are typically found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system.

The physiological response that is elicited after a bind event is dependent on where the receptor is located in the body, and the concentration of Endocannabinoid that binds to it. For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in your immune cells to signal that your body’s experiencing inflammation, a common sign of autoimmune disorders.

  • Enzymes

Enzymes, like FAAH and MAGL, are responsible for recycling endocannabinoids once their function has been carried out. Endocannabinoids (Anandamide) molecular fragility lends themselves to be broken down quite easily, so high concentrations of endocannabinoids do not stick around in the body long.


What happens when Cannabinoids enter the body?

The way CBD interacts with the ECS isn't completely understood.

Some research suggests certain cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, effect the brains chemical response to serotonin already present in the system.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating your mood, sleep, digestion and behavior.  Lower serotonin levels are commonly seen in those fighting chronic depression and anxiety.  Patients on a strict CBD regimen have shown increase serotonin levels in the body, thus helping fighting depression and anxiety.

Other research suggests that CBD disrupts the ECS’s natural process by inhibiting the enzymatic breakdown of endocannabinoids in the body.  Cannabinoids have shown to block the enzyme, FAAH, from recycling endocannabinoids like Anandamide, thus boosting levels of anandamide in the body for a prolonged period of time. An increase in concentration of Anandamide in the body is correlated with reduced stress, anxiety and more! Thus by not allowing the breakdown of anandamide, a patient taking CBD experiences prolonged feelings of calm and peace.


The Most Common Cannabinoids 


Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA), converts to three major cannabinoid precursor compounds, depending on which plant enzymes are activated to direct the synthesis: THCA, CBCA, and CBDA. THCA, CBDA, CBGA and other acidic cannabinoids hold the most COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition, contributing to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects.


Unlike predecessor, Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. THCA converts to THC when burned, vaporized, or heated at certain temperatures.  This process is also known as decarboxylation.


Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) is abundant in raw and live cannabis. CBDA converts to CBD when burned, vaporized, or heated at certain temperatures.  This process is known as decarboxylation.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most abundant cannabinoid present in marijuana and is responsible for cannabis’s signature psychoactive effects.


Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown to have tremendous medical potential.  CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, like Dravet syndrome and LGS, which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.  CBD has also shown to help alleviate chronic pain and sleep insomnia. For more on CBD, check out Heal With Nature CBD Guide!


Cannabinol (CBN) is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid.  CBN is produced from the degeneration of THC. Some potential benefits of CBN include: Antibacterial, neuroprotectant, appetite stimulation, glaucoma, and antiinflammation.


Cannabigerol (CBG), also known as the ‘stem cell’ of cannabinoids, is a nonpyschoactive cannabinoid.  CBG is thought to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, and even inhibit uncontrollable cell growth (tumors/cancers) and promote bone growth. The concentration of CBG in a mature cannabis plant is typically very low.  For more information on CBG and its potential benefits, check out Heal With Nature’s CBG Post for more!


Cannabichromene (CBC) is non-intoxicating cannabinoid, so it doesn’t produce a euphoric high like THC.  CBC is known to reduce pain, inflammation, inhibit cell growth and promote bone health. 


CBD Products 

CBD products can be separated into two main categories: Oral and Topical CBD products.  By understanding the differences between each class of product, we hope you will be better able to make a decision as to which CBD product is right for your needs. 

1. Oral CBD Products

Oral CBD products work best for internal and cognitive wellness.  There are two primary methods to taking CBD orally; sublingual and ingestion

Sublingual CBD products, like CBD Tinctures or drops, usually require CBD drops to be placed underneath the tongue and held for about 30 seconds before swallowing. CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the tiny blood vessels located underneath your tongue.  The effects of this method are quicker and more universal than other CBD related treatments.

Ingesting CBD products require edible CBD products to be broken down by normal physiological process before being absorbed into the bloodstream.  These types of products include capsules, soft gels, gummies, and edibles. Although you loose some of the potency due to the bodies normal metabolic process during ingestion, the effects of the medication are thought to be more widespread and longer lasting.

2. CBD Topical Products

CBD topical products, like creams, lotions and balms, are applied directly to the area of discomfort.  The effects of these treatment types are more centralized, and help alleviate chronic, mild pain, discomfort and inflammation quickly. CBD topicals have low bioavailability; the skin may not be permeable enough for CBD to reach the bloodstream. So, the effects of CBD topical products are isolated to the area it was introduced, not the entire body.

Topical CBD are particular useful for muscle or joint pain and inflammation.  Research into CBD pain relieving abilities is still in it’s early stages, but early trials has shown alleviation in arthritis related pain, and chronic nerve pain and jaw pain!