5 Fast Facts: What are Phytocannabinoids?

Two hikers on a cliff looking at a body of water


We get it. There are a lot of terms to learn when diving into the hemp industry. Let’s begin with basics. So, what are phytocannabinoids? It may sound like an SAT word—but most of us didn’t learn about these in school. So, let’s start with an impromptu biology lesson and learn five need-to-know facts about phytocannabinoids.

What are phytocannabinoids?

But first, a definition. It’s easier to understand the word “phytocannabinoid” when you break it up. The prefix “phyto” means “plant” and the word “cannabinoid” refers to a set of chemical compounds produced by the cannabis plant and in mammals. In the case of the hemp industry, phytocannabinoids take the form of natural oils that can be found on the outer coating of the leaves of the cannabis plant. Examples include CBD and THC.

1.      It comes down to science.

So, in each of our bodies, we have this intricate, hard-to-understand collection of cell signals that’s known as the “endocannabinoid system.” It works to keep our bodies functioning. Essentially, an endocannabinoid molecule attaches to a receptor. This action triggers a response. For instance, let’s say that you trip on a rock during a hike, which results in a scraped knee. However, you still have about three miles to go. So that you would be able to continue the trek, your body would respond with pain alleviation. Once your body is done with the reaction, an enzyme will break down the endocannabinoid molecule that is no longer needed.

How does any of this relate to phytocannabinoids? Well, these compounds work to mimic endocannabinoid molecules. In order to bring out responses/effects, when consumed, phytocannabinoids will bind to the same receptors.

2.      Reactions can be mental and/or physical.

In our endocannabinoid system, we have two main types of receptors. First off, there are receptors that are tied to our central nervous system. When these are involved, effects concerned with mental well-being take place. On the other hand, there are receptors for our immune system. With these targeted, effects related to our physical health occur. Since phytocannabinoids copy endocannabinoid molecules, these same rules apply for compounds like CBD and THC.

3.      Effects will differ amongst people.

As you know, we all have different bodies. This means that we each have a unique endocannabinoid system. Since each of our bodies react differently, our responses to endocannabinoid molecules and phytocannabinoids will differ by person. What works for someone may not be the best for others, so you should pay attention to your body when using hemp products.

4.      Quantity isn’t always important.

When a receptor is contacted, a response is invoked. However, there isn’t always an endless supply of effects to be had. Taking a lot of phytocannabinoids doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a more intense experience. It all depends on the type of compound, for each one targets different receptors. Certain responses can be repeated more often than others. Hence, you should look up the recommended dosage of a phytocannabinoid before consuming. 

5.      Not all phytocannabinoid uses are legal.

As we’ve discussed, both CBD and THC are examples of phytocannabinoids. CBD-only and hemp (those that contain no more than 0.03% THC) products are legal in each of the 50 states. However, items with more than 0.03% THC are illegal in some places. To be safe, you should be attentive of the different concentrations of phytocannabinoids in the products that you purchase.

Understanding phytocannabinoids allows you to really get an inside picture of the behind-the-scenes information underlying all your favorite CBD products. It’s important to understand why certain products work for you. Plus, learning about phytocannabinoids also lets you find out intriguing facts about the way your body works. With all this information in mind, you can approach products like tinctures or creams with a newfound confidence. Hemp hemp hooray!

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