Basic Cannabinoid Chemistry

Firstly, let’s explain what these three-letter acronyms stand for…


  • CBD – Cannabidiol
  • CBG – Cannabigerol
  • THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol

It’s important to emphasize, that these (cannabionoids) are found in different cultivated varieties of the Cannabis plants.

To date, scientists have identified over one-hundred different naturally occurring cannabinoids.

close up microscope shot

Chemical Structure of CBD, CBG and THC


(Above) The Chemical Structure of Three Frequently Referenced Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids Vs Endocannabinoids

Generally, phytocannabinoids, (namely, cannabinoids from the Cannabis plant) closely resemble endocannabinoids, (endocannabinoids are naturally produced by the human body).

Indeed, two important endocannabinoids that have been identified within the human body are:

  • AEA – Anandamide (arachidonoyl ethanolamide)
  • 2-AG – 2-archidonoyl glyerol

What’s more, endocannabinoids act as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are ‘messengers’.

Specifically, they send different signals around the body via nerve cells. The nerve cells target different cells in the body e.g. other nerve cells, muscle cells etc…

Cannabinoids interact with specific receptors, namely: CB1 and CB2
Def: CB1 = Cannabinoid receptor type 1 and CB2 = Cannabinoid receptor type 2

Receptor Site at molecular level. Interactions and signal as a result.

CB1 Receptor located on Membrane of Neuron

Movement of endocannabinoids, at the receptor site. These 'messengers' interact with CB1 receptors. Resulting in different signals being sent around the body.

Chemical Structure of AEA, 2-AG and THC (hydrocarbons)

AEA and 2AG

(Above) The Chemical Structure of Two Well-Documented Endocannabinoids

Can Cannabinoids Impact the Body In The Same Way as Endocannabinoids?

To clarify, phytocannabinoids may act in a similar way to endocannabinoids.

As a result CBD/CBG/THC molecules interact with specific receptors (CB1 and CB2) within the body. For this reason they may adjust different critical bodily functions e.g. sleep, pain control, immune responses etc…when needed.

Receptors are special proteins located on the surface of cells. In brief, receptors may interact with a specific substance (e.g. CBD, CBG, THC), and create a desired effect.