Pharmacodynamics: The Effects And Mechanisms Of Cannabinoids


Cannabinoids have gained a lot of attention in recent years – be it from the legalisation of cannabis that is sweeping the US, the many scientific investigations into their effects, or the rise of hemp and CBD. This attention is bringing constant discovery in the field, with most advancements appearing to be positive – if only initial. As such we thought it would be good to look at some of the overarching pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids – being their mechanisms and effects.


The cannabinoids found within hemp interact with the body by binding to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This is a system present within all humans, and reaches throughout the entire body. The body naturally produces its own versions of cannabinoids to interact with this system, but when external varieties are added, stimulation of the system is enhanced.

There are two main types of receptors in this system that are currently known (the discovery of the endocannabinoid system is relatively recent). The first is the CB1 receptor. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain, central nervous system, and related organs. They are thought to play a role in such functions as sleep, appetite, mood, and pain perception.

The other type of receptor that cannabinoids interact with are known as CB2 receptors. These are found throughout the body – mostly in the immune system, gastrointestinal system, and their related organs. The activation of these receptors is thought to help modulate inflammation, reducing its severity.




Although a lot more complicated, the above outlines the core mechanics of how cannabinoids interact with the body. So now it is time to check out some of the effects. It is worth noting, all of the following are still under investigation, with new interactions being discovered on a regular basis – shaping our understanding of their true effects.


THC, is without a doubt, the most infamous and widely recognised cannabinoid of them all. It is also often the most common cannabinoid found within cannabis. In hemp, it is only present in a miniscule amount – so small it is often considered legal.

THC is psychoactive, allowing those who use it to feel “high”. In addition to this, it is also thought to offer pain relief, stimulate appetite, reduce nausea, and suppress muscle spasms.


Possibly the next most famous cannabinoid, CBD is completely non-psychoactive, meaning its use can’t cause a high. It can be found in both hemp and cannabis in large amounts.

The main effects of CBD are thought to be the reduction of inflammation, pain relief, appetite stimulation, reduced nausea, reduced anxiety, psychosis management, reduced seizure frequency, muscle spasm suppression, and slowing bacterial growth – to name but a few. As you can see, CBD is the focus of scientific investigation for a good reason.


CBC, although present in small amounts, spends a lot longer than other cannabinoids in the bloodstream. This allows its effects to last much longer. It is thought to offer pain relief, reduce inflammation, slow the growth of bacteria, and promote bone growth.


CBG acts as the stem cell for other cannabinoids like THC, CBC, and CBD. As the hemp plant grows, CBG is converted into each. As such, little of it often remains in the mature plant when it comes to harvest. Its effects are thought to be pain relief, reduced inflammation, promoted bone growth, and have the ability to help fight fungal infection.


CBN is produced when THC is exposed to oxygen. It results in a tranquilising effect. As such it is associated with pain relief, reduced muscle spasms and improved sleep. When using cannabis, it is partly responsible for the lethargic, “couchlock” effect that can sometimes be experienced.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about cannabinoids and how they interact with our bodies. The Pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids is a complex and very deep subject. The above will hopefully give you a good, brief overview of what is going on – but there is still plenty to read for those wanting to learn more.



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