Humans have been fascinated by the cannabis plant for centuries.

Cannabis itself is indigenous to Central and South Asia. Historically, it was used as a fibre for clothing and rope, in food and medicine, and as a psychoactive substance for use in religious ceremonies and rituals.

Around 0 CE, cannabis began to make its way around the globe, first spilling over from the Persian empire into nearby Arab countries. It travelled to Africa, where it spread rapidly. Spanish traders are thought to have brought cannabis into the Western Hemisphere, where it was quickly adopted as an alternative to ‘English Hemp’.

Cannabis was used in industry in the West for hundreds of years as a fibre in clothing, cloth, rope, and even as building materials.

Recently, medicinal cannabis has been at the forefront of western media. This follows a spate of one-off cases, where children with severe epilepsy were found to show remarkable improvements following treatment with medicinal cannabis.

So, what’s changed? And why exactly is cannabis still illegal in the UK? In this article, SmartCBD takes you through the different properties in cannabis, how they can be used, and why they’re different.


The Cannabis plant itself contains over 200 unique compounds known as cannabinoids. Many have no effects on humans, meaning that cannabis research tends to focus primarily on the two compounds that make up the greater proportion of the cannabis plant.

These compounds are Cannabidiol (CBD), and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They’re remarkably similar in terms of atomic makeup, although they interact with our bodies in very different ways.


THC is known for its ability to get you “high”, whereas CBD is more renowned for its medical benefits.

So, how does ingesting THC make you feel? Recreational marijuana users often report high, fuzzy feelings, as well as general euphoria and increased emotional capacity.

However, negative side effects of too much THC can include:

  • Impaired memory
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced motor control
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry, red eyes

Getting ‘high’ occurs because THC is capable of binding to CB1 receptors (part of the endocannabinoid system), many of which are found within the brain.


Conversely, CBD doesn’t offer any psychoactive effects. Instead, it works internally by binding with CB2 receptors and increasing the number of endocannabinoids within the endocannabinoid system.

Research has shown that CBD may be effective as a mild antidepressant, due to the way it interacts with CB2 receptors in the brain.

Effects commonly associated with ingesting CBD include:

  • Pain relief
  • Improved appetite
  • Improved sleep
  • Better overall mood/feeling of wellbeing
  • Reduced symptoms of various illnesses, including; epilepsy, arthritis, and migraine.
Did you know?

Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids both operate within the endocannabinoid system. Their only difference is in where they originate.

‘Endo’ is the Greek word for ‘within’, and is used in the term endocannabinoid to denote cannabinoids that are produced naturally by the human body.

‘Phyto’ is the Greek prefix for ‘from a plant’, and refers to any cannabinoid which occurs naturally in a plant. Both are capable of interacting with the human body’s endocannabinoid system in similar ways.


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