Cannabis 101

Harbory Education – Cannabis Details

  1. Endocannabinoid System
  2. Cannabinoids
  3. Terpenes

1 – Endocannabinoid System and Receptors

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
In 1964, researchers in Israel discovered the therapeutically active substances in cannabis that have come to be called cannabinoids and isolated the most popular and possibly effective cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). More than 20 years later, in 1988, researchers identified the human body’s endocannabinoid system.

Endocannabinoids are the special molecules naturally produced in the human body that are closely related to proper functioning of the immune system and nervous system and that are mimicked by the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids contained in cannabis, referred to as phytocannabinoids, simply imitate endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids fit perfectly into specialized receptors found throughout the nervous and immune systems, serving to enhance, or improve upon, the body’s own ability to maintain homeostasis (balance) and health.

The Role of Receptors
Research since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system has led to the identification of specialized receptors in the body. Knowledge of these receptors, called CB1 and CB2, has greatly enhanced the overall knowledge of how cannabinoids synergistically interact with other cannabinoids and endocannabinoids to produce sometimes profound medical effects. An understanding of these receptors also allows for the production of synthetic cannabinoids and specialized extracts that best take advantage of the function of these receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body, embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different action. Researchers speculate there may be a third cannabinoid receptor waiting to be discovered.

CB1 receptors are located throughout the brain and central nervous system, as well as the kidneys, liver, lungs, digestive tract, and even the eyes. Revealingly, these receptors outnumber those for opiates by a wide margin (possibly as high as 10 to 1). The placement of CB1 receptors is also why overdoses on cannabis are impossible – because these receptors are not present in the basal regions of the brain that are responsible for vital functions, such as heart and respiratory function, overdoses due solely to cannabis use simply do not occur.

CB2 receptors are primarily found in the peripheral organs, in particular tissues associated with the immune system, including the tonsils, thymus, spleen, and bone marrow.

2 – Cannabinoids

What Are Cannabinoids?

One of the most valuable words in the medical cannabis glossary, that all patients need to understand, is cannabinoid. Cannabinoids, like THC, CBD and CBG, are organic chemical compounds that, with terpenes, makeup the building blocks of the cannabis plant. Translating into medicinally valuable relief, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of conditions such as cancer, seizures, and Parkinson’s disease and symptoms such as inflammation, pain and nausea.

Cannabis cannabinoids provide such medical efficacy to humans because they mimic our own naturally produced endocannabinoids, and bind to the same receptors, located throughout the brain and body. The human endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating many different body systems, including pain, memory, mood and appetite. The unique ability of cannabis cannabinoids to be able to communicate with the human body in the same manner that it communicates with itself makes it an ideal medicine for humans.

Below is a summary of the most common cannabinoids and their treatment effects for some of the related medical conditions associated with medical cannabis.

Harbory facts on Tetrahydrocannabinol:

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most well-known and most often the most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis. This is the psychoactive component known to produce euphoria, which is more often described as the feeling of being “high.”

THC binds primarily to the receptors found throughout the brain. Research has shown THC to work to reduce or even eliminate pain, nausea and stress while also helping to stimulate the appetite and combat insomnia. In high doses, THC may cause some patients to feel paranoia or an increased heart rate, but those adverse effects will subside with time.

THC Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that THC is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which THC is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic post-operative pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Harbory facts on Cannabidiol:
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid famed for significantly reducing symptoms in patients suffering from seizure and spasm disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. CBD is the cannabinoid most often recommended for children, elderly and other patients who must remain clear-headed in their activities because it is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not produce euphoria or the feeling of being “high.”

CBD reacts with cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body, and works to relieve inflammation and pain while producing a calming-effect in patients. For this reason, it is often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. It has also been shown to work with THC to reduce the size of tumors.

CBD Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that CBD is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBD is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Cancer
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Chronic post-operative pain

Harbory facts on Cannabinol
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a mildly psychoactive component found in cannabis which, like strongly psychoactive THC, is derived from tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A). CBN is created when THC-A oxidizes.

CBN can be used effectively as a sleep aid or sedative. This cannabinoid has also been shown to help regulate the immune system, and works to relieve the pain and inflammation caused by several conditions, including arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Studies show that it can be used to reduce the intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. CBN acts as an anti-convulsant, so it is also beneficial to patients suffering from seizure disorders including epilepsy.

CBN Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that CBN is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBN is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic Post-Operative Pain

Harbory facts on CBG:
Cannabigerol, or CBG, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid typically most abundant in low-THC, high-CBD cannabis strains, including hemp. Like THC, CBG reacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. CBG, however, acts as a buffer to the psycho-activity of THC, by working to alleviate the paranoia sometimes caused by higher levels of THC.

CBG works to fight inflammation, pain and nausea, and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Strains high in CBG will be beneficial treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and cancer.

CBG Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that CBG is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBG is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Harbory facts on Cannabichromene:
Cannabichromene, or CBC, is a powerful, non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it will not cause a patient to feel “high.” CBC, like THC and CBD, has been shown to encourage the human brain to grow by increasing the viability of developing brain cells in a process known as neurogenesis. CBC plays a significant role in the anti-cancer and anti-tumor capabilities of cannabis.

CBC battles inflammation, as well, but without activating any of the endocannabinoid receptors in the body. For this reason, the healing powers of CBC increase significantly when combined with other cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, which do activate endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and throughout the body.

CBC Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that CBC is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBC is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Chronic post-operative pain

Harbory facts on Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid:
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. The health benefits provided by THCA are most well absorbed by the body through a raw method of consumption such as cannabis juicing. THCA works to relieve inflammation and pain, and is an ideal cannabinoid for treating symptoms of such conditions as arthritis, seizures.

THCA is an effective neuroprotectant, so it is beneficial in the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It can also help to stimulate the appetite in patients suffering from cachexia and anorexia nervosa. Most impressively, research shows that THC-A helps to slow the proliferation of cancerous cells.

THCA Effects & Benefits

THCA is an effective neuroprotectant, so it is beneficial in the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It can also help to stimulate the appetite in patients suffering from cachexia and anorexia nervosa. Most impressively, research shows that THC-A helps to slow the proliferation of cancerous cells.

Research has shown that THCA is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which THCA is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Cancer
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia

Harbory facts on Cannabidivarin:
Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that will not cause the euphoric feeling of being “high.” It is found more prevalently in indica strains, specifically landrace indica strains, and strains that are lower in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Like CBD, CBDV significantly reduces the frequency and severity of seizures. It also reduces or even eliminates the nausea associated with several conditions, and helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body. CBDV is also beneficial in the treatment of pain and mood disorders.

CBDV Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that CBDV is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBDV is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Seizures
  • Crohn’s
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Harbory facts on Cannabiliolic Acid
Cannabidiolic-acid (CBDA) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It is the acid, or precursor, form of cannabidiol. CBDA acts as an anti-proliferative, meaning that it prevents the spread of cancer cells. It is also known to relieve nausea and significantly reduce inflammation. Most uniquely, CBDA slows the growth of bacteria, so it is beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as HIV/AIDS or Crohn’s disease where the body is more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Ingesting raw cannabis flowers and leaves, in a method like juicing, is the best way to consume CBDA because it is only prevalent in cannabis that has not been heated through methods of consumption like smoking or vaporizing. However, once heat has been applied and it changes to CBD, it still provides significant medical efficacy.

CBDA Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that CBDA is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBDA is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • HIV/AIDS

Harbory facts on Tetrahydrocannabivarin:
Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, is a psychoactive cannabinoid found most prevalently in sativa strains of cannabis. It is known to produce a more motivated, alert and energizing feeling of euphoria. For this reason, it is often recommended for daytime or any time when functionality is important.

THCV relieves stress, and research shows it can help to reduce or even prevent anxiety and panic attacks. For this reason it plays an important role in the treatment of post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD). It is also neuroprotective, so it is ideal for treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Unlike THC, THCV works to suppress the appetite, so it is not recommended for patients suffering from cachexia or anorexia nervosa.

THCV Effects & Benefits

Research has shown that THCV is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which THCV is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • PTSD
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • Alzheimer’s disease


3 – Terpenes

Harbory facts on Aroma & Flavor – Terpenes
Terpenes are the organic compounds responsible for creating the unique aroma of each individual cannabis plant. Terpenes do more than determine the scent finger print, they also provide therapeutic benefits like their cannabinoid partners, THC and CBD. Formed from the same shiny, resinous trichomes as cannabinoids, cannabis terpenes also bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the brain and body. For example, depending upon which receptors they react with, different terpenes may help to induce sleep and relax muscles while others reduce stress and elevate mood, or reduce inflammation and increase energy.

When terpenes work together with cannabinoids, in a process known as the entourage effect, the therapeutic potentials increase dramatically. Terpenes can also modify how much of each cannabinoid is absorbed. This means the presence of certain terpenes can increase or decrease the amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC is absorbed, effectively controlling the potency. Consequently, a strain of medical cannabis with the perfect mix of terpenes and cannabinoids could be the equivalent of a hand tailored suit, designed to treat a particular disease or condition.

More than 200 terpenoids have been identified in Cannabis. The most common and most studied include limonene, myrcene, alpha-pinene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol. Anecdotal evidence suggests that pinene is alerting, limonene “sunshine-y,” and myrcene sedating.

Below are some of the more common types of Terpenes:

Caryophyllene – spicy, sweet, woody, clove, camphor, peppery. Found in black pepper(15-25%), clove(10-20%) and cotton(15-25%). It binds weakly to CB2 receptor. As a topical it is one of the constituents of clove oil, an anti-inflammatory and analgesic treatment for toothache. In high amounts, it’s a calcium and potassium ion channel blocker. As a result, it impedes the pressure exerted by heart muscles. Since THC does not have a smell, drug dogs are trained to find one, very smelly molecule called Caryophyllene-epoxide!

Limonene – citrus (orange, tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit), rosemary, juniper, peppermint. Repulsive to predators. Found in the rinds of many fruits and flowers. With the presence of other certain terpenes, Limonene can be an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-depressant and anti- carcinogen. It can synergistically promote the absorption of other terpenes by quickly penetrating cell membranes. The result can be increased systolic blood pressure. Since Limonene is such a potent anti-fungal and anti-cancer agent, it is thought to protect against aspergillus fungi and carcinogens found in cannabis smoke streams!

Linolool – floral (spring flowers), lily, citrus and candied spice. Possesses anti-anxiety and sedative properties (also in lavender).

Myrcene – clove like, earthy, green-vegetative, citrus, fruity with tropical mango and minty nuances. The most prevalent terpene found in most varieties of marijuana, it is also present in high amounts in Mangos, hops, lemon grass, East Indian bay tree, verbena and Mercia. Myrcene is one of the most important chemicals used in the perfumery industry. Because of its pleasant odor, it is occasionally used directly. It’s a building block for menthol, citronella, and geraniol. It possesses antimicrobial, antiseptic, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogen, anti depressant, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxing effects. Myrcene affects the permeability of the cell membranes, allowing more THC to reach brain cells.

Nerolidol – also known as peruviol, is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene found in the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. There are two isomers of nerolidol, cis and trans, which differ in the geometry about the central double bond. Nerolidol is present in neroli, ginger, jasmine, lavender, tea tree, Cannabis sativa, and lemon grass. The aroma of nerolidol is woody and reminiscent of fresh bark. It is used as a flavoring agent and in perfumery. It is also currently under testing as a skin penetration enhancer for the transdermal delivery of therapeutic drugs.

Phytol – Phytol is an acyclic diterpene alcohol that can be used as a precursor for the manufacture of synthetic forms of vitamin E and vitamin K1. In ruminants, the gut fermentation of ingested plant materials liberates phytol, a constituent of chlorophyll, which is then converted to phytanic acid and stored in fats.

Pinene – Alpha: pine needles, rosemary Beta: dill, parsley, rosemary, basil, yarrow, rose, hops, the familiar odor associated with pine trees and their resins. It is the major component in turpentine and is found in many other plant essential oils including rosemary, sage, and eucalyptus. Pinene can increase mental focus and energy, as well as act as an expectorant, bronchodilator (the smoke seems to expand in your lungs), and topical antiseptic. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it inhibits activity of acetylcholinesterase, which destroys acetylcholine, an information transfer molecule, resulting in better memory. It may counteract THC’s activity, which leads to low acetylcholine levels. Largely due to the presence of pinene, rosemary and sage are both considered “memory plants.” Concoctions made from their leaves have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to retain and restore memory.

Some additional Terpenes and their characteriscs:

Cineole/Eucalyptol – spicy, camphor, refreshing, minty. Found in rosemary, eucalyptus. It is used to increase circulation, pain relief and easily crosses the blood-brain-barrier to trigger fast olfactory reaction. Eucalyptus oil is considered centering, balancing and stimulating. It is possibly the stimulating and thought provoking part of the cannabis smoke stream.

Delta3Carene – sweet, pine, cedar, woodsy, pungent. A constituent of rosemary, pine and cedar resin. In aroma therapy, cypress oil, high in D-3-carene, is used to dry excess fluids, tears, running noses, excess menstrual flow and perspiration. It may contribute to the dry eye and mouth experienced by some marijuana users.

Pulegone – mint, camphor, rosemary, candy. It is implicated in liver damage in very high dosages. It is found in tiny quantities in marijuana. Pulegone is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. That is, it stops the action of the protein that destroys acetylcholine, which is used by the brain to store memories.

Sabinene – Found in oak trees, tea tree oil, black pepper and is a major constituent of carrot seed oil.

Terpineol – floral, lilac, citrus, apple/orange blossoms, lime. It is a minor constituent of many plant essential oils. It is used in perfumes and soaps for fragrance. It reduces physical motility 45% in lab rat tests… Couch-lock effect?

Borneol – menthol, camphor, pine, woody. Can be easily converted into menthol. Found in Cinnamon and Wormwood. It is considered a “calming sedative” in Chinese medicine. It is directed for fatigue, recovery from illness and stress.