Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors is a plural noun referring to receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), located throughout the human body. 

What are Cannabinoid Receptors?

The ECS is involved in a variety of physiological processes including pain-sensation, appetite, memory, sleep, and mood. Cannabinoid receptors are a member of the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily, part of a class of cell membrane receptors.

Cannabinoids are something like messenger compounds that bind with cannabinoid receptors and other receptors as well. When cannabinoids bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, this signals them into service.

Although humans have many cannabinoid receptors in their bodies, the two best studied are endocannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and endocannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 is more significant to the central nervous system, and CB2 impacts the immune system more.

Cannabinoid Receptors: Usage and Meaning


  • “Do you think it matters which strains and which cannabinoid receptors work best for you as a patient? Or is that a thing?”
  • “One reason researchers think Caryophyllene binds so easily with the CB2 cannabinoid receptors is its unique structure.”
  • “The fact that we have these cannabinoid receptors all throughout our bodies makes it seem silly to criminalize cannabis.”

The Endocannabinoid System

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system made up of enzymes, natural chemicals that occur in the body called endocannabinoids, and receptors for those natural chemicals. The ECS helps the human body achieve and stay in balance, or homeostasis.

Cannabinoid receptors work like a sensor or thermostat. They monitor conditions outside the cell, and respond as needed to keep things working and running smoothly.

CB1 and CB2 are the two major cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. CB1 receptors are most common inside the CNS and brain, and CB2 receptors are more abundant outside of the nervous system in places like the immune system. THC interacts with the CB1 receptors to produce the cannabis high.

Plant cannabinoids produce psychoactive and medicinal effects as they interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. For example, THC creates a feeling of being high as it activates the CB1 receptor within the brain. Cannabinoids often interact with many receptors to produce unique effects.

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