The Science of Cannabis
Although cannabis is used to treat a myriad of medical conditions, its production process more closely resembles that of a fruit than of a pharmaceutical. However, as state and local governments redefine cannabis regulations, quality assurance is key. At SC Labs, we provide patients with a 100% transparent understanding of their medicine, in order to ensure safety and maximize effectiveness.
What makes cannabis medicine?
The cannabis plant contains dozens of active compounds called cannabinoids, found in various concentrations within a plant’s flowers, leaves, and stem. The majority of cannabinoids are located in the flowers of the female plant and are concentrated in a viscous resin, which is produced in glandular structures called ‘trichomes’. In addition to its wealth of cannabinoids, the resin is also rich in terpenes. Terpenes are largely responsible for cannabis’ distinct odor, as well as much of the variations in physiological effects across strains.
Cannabinoids are delivered to the body via several routes, including through smoking plant material, vaporizing concentrates, ingesting plant material, and topical application. Researchers have identified over 70 unique cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. Many of these cannabinoids interact with the human endocannabinoid system via cannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies.
Although scientists are still identifying new cannabinoid receptors, research has advanced at a rapid pace. The two main types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body are called CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain and central nervous system, as well as the lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2 receptor is primarily expressed in the immune system, hematopoietic cells, and throughout the gut. The affinity of an individual cannabinoid to each receptor, as well as the cannabinoid’s own pharmacology, combine to determine how it will affect the human body.
The chart on the right illustrates the therapeutic properties the cannabinoids and the mechanisms that are responsible for these properties.
The following chart is adapted from Figure 1 in Raphael Mechoulam, et al., “Nonpsychotropic Plan Cannabinoids: New therapeutic opportunties from an ancient herb”, Trends in Pharmacological Science, 1-13 (2009).
Due to cannabis’ unique legal status and distribution systems, issues of quality control and safety regulation remain largely unresolved. We are actively working to promote transparency and believe that responsible product labeling is crucial to fostering consumer confidence.