CannaKeys Databank Glossary
Acetylcholine (neurotransmitter) Acetylcholine is a multi-function communication molecule that enables central and peripheral nerve impulses to be transmitted for example. (See Ligand)
Affinity: Is a measure that describes if and how tightly a specific ligand binds with a specific receptor.
Agonism: The action of combining or binding a compound (e.g. THC) with a specific receptor site (e.g. CB2) thus producing the same or similar effect that an endogenous compound or agonist (e.g anandamide) would produce. The binding potential is typically measured in nM=nano Molar (a factor of one billionth or 0.000 000 001 or 10-9). To provide the reader with some context here are a few examples:
- Strong or Full Agonism (1-9nM): Synthetic HU-210 (Ki) ~0.25nM =100 x the strengths of THC at CB1
- Moderate Agonism (10-99nM): THC (Ki) 25nM at CB1
- Weak Agonism (100-999nM): Anandamide (Ki) 239nM at CB1 =1/10 the strengths of THC at CB1
- Very Weak Agonism(1000+nM): CBD 1459nM =1/58 x the strengths of THC at CB1
Agonist: Interacts with a receptor site to produce a specific effect (positive affinity).
Allosteric modulator (+ or -): Allosteric binding sites are indirect binding sites (at or around a receptor) that can influence the effect of agonist or antagonist.
Allosteric binding sites are indirect binding sites that can influence an agonist and inverse agonist of a target ligand.
Anandamide (endocannabinoid/neurotransmitter): Anandamide is a naturally occurring communication molecule that is at once an endocannabinoid and neurotransmitter. (See Ligand)
Animal trials (in vivo testing) are experiments conducted on animals.
Antagonist: Interacts to block or reduce the normal effect (partial positive affinity).
Cannabis Chemotypes (aka chemovars): Are practically useful designations in predicting specific medicinal properties or adverse effects potentials. As the last four decades of research discovered, three basic numbers are the primary key (but not the only variables) to realizing specific therapeutic effects for any type of cannabis plant. One, the amount of the primary psychoactive cannabis constituent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC for short); two, the amount of the non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol (CBD); and thirdly the ratio of THC to CBD. It is these three numbers that discern the three basic chemotypes of cannabis. The Roman numerals I, II, and III are used to distinguish them. A chemotype I contains more THC than CBD. A chemotype II contains relative equal amounts, and a chemotype III contains more CBD than THC.
Cannabis Species: The genus cannabis is divided into three species; sativa, indica, and ruderalis.
Cannabinoid: A chemical compound that interacts with the human body, producing a measurable effect in body, mind, and emotion such as relaxation, improved resilience to stress, neuroprotection, or analgesia for instance. Cannabinoids come in three types: those made by plants (primarily cannabis), those made by the human body itself, and synthetic versions (human-made).
Cannabinoid Receptor Sites: Cannabinoids bind to a number of unique receptor sites—which once engaged, produce a unique signal that in turn creates a specific physiological and mental/emotional response.
CB1 is an endogenous receptor site abundantly present in the brain and central nervous system.
CB2 is an endogenous receptor site abundantly present in the periphery and cells of the immune system.
Clinical trials are conducted on humans.
Cortisol (steroidal hormone) Cortisol is a steroid made by the adrenal glands that functions like other glandular produced hormones in producing a number of specific physiological and psychological effects (e.g. stress management).
Cytokines (pro- and anti-inflammatory) Cytokines are a group of small signalling proteins involved in modulating inflammation. (See Ligand)
Dopamine (neurotransmitter/hormone) Dopamine is a communication molecule involved in a complex variety of functions relevant to biological survival and mental-emotional well-being. (See Ligand)
Double-blind placebo controlled trials are considered the “gold” standard for intervention-based scientific investigations. A key characteristic of this type of study is that neither the investigator nor the subject know who gets the drug to be tested or the placebo.
Efficacy: Is a measure that describes the ability of a ligand to activate the receptor once binding has occurred.
Endocannabinoid Enzymes such as FAAH and MAGL alter the bioavailability of the body’s own endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG respectively and with it the effects they engender.
Endocannabinoidome: The relatively new idea of an endocannabinoidome is used to describe components of and the larger environment that interacts with the ECS. This includes all knowns aspects of the ECS [i.e. cannabinoids, cannabinoid-sensitive receptors, their metabolizing enzymes, other compounds (see list of ligands below), the lipidome, and the microbiome] but also numerous other compounds or food items such as turmeric, echinacea or plants rich in beta-caryophyllene for example.
Endogenous opioids (e.g. endorphins) are ligands made by the human body for the purpose of producing effects such as analgesia, anti-anxiety, and mood improvements similar to that of opioids.(See Ligand)
Epinephrine (neurotransmitter/hormone) Epinephrine is a significant communication molecule involved in numerous necessary functions such as “fight, flight, or freeze” responses. (See Ligand)
Estrogen (hormone) Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. (See Ligand)
Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) is the enzyme produced and regulated by the human body that breaks down anandamide.
GABA (neurotransmitter) The inhibitory ligand GABA is produced by metabolizing the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate thus reducing cellular excitement. (See Ligand)
Genotype: The plant’s genetic composition or DNA blueprint of life.
Ghrelin (hormone) Ghrelin is a hormone that is associated with the sensation of hunger. (See Ligand)
Glucagon (hormone) Glucagon is a hormone that tells the liver (or muscles) to convert glycogen into glucose for cellular energy consumption. (See Ligand)
Glutamate (neurotransmitter) Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter. (See Ligand)
G-Protein Coupled Receptor Sites (GPCR)are a very large family of receptor sites embedded in the skins (membranes) of trillions of individual cells that make up the human body. GPCR that are cannabinoid sensitive include: The classical endocannabinoid receptor site 1 (CB1) and (CB2). In addition there are GPCR 3, GPCR 6, GPCR 18, GPCR 55, and opioid receptor sites (mu/μ and delta/δ) all of which are modulated (either in part or significantly) by components of the endocannabinoid system.
Hemp: An industrial crop usually with less than 0.3% THC.
Human trials are human subject research.
Insulin (hormone) One of the prime functions of insulin is to stimulate the uptake of glucose. (See Ligand)
Inverse agonist: Interacts to create the opposite effect (negative affinity).
Kd stands for “disassociation constant” and simply represents ligand-receptor affinity (the concentration of ligand disassociation).
Ki stands for “inhibitory constant” (or the concentration of competitive displacement). The use of Ki is helpful in anticipating how potent a particular substance has to be to inhibit the action of a cannabinoid, for example.
Laboratory trials (in vitro testing) are experiments that operate under controlled conditions, performing careful measurement, utilizing the scientific method (e.g. observing and measuring the effect of a cannabinoid against a bacteria in a Petri dish).
Ligand(s) derived from the Latin word “to bind or to tie.” In medicine a ligand is a small molecule, functional group, or an ion that binds with another to form a more complex or larger one. Examples of ligands include agonists or activators (initiate activity) or inhibitors (reduce an activity) for instance. More specifically cannabinoids such as THC or CBD are ligands, but so are carbon monoxide, water, ammonia, heme, or sulfides for example. There are a number of ligands and their respective receptor sites that are cannabinoid sensitive i.e. are modulated either in part or significantly by the endocannabinoid system. They include in alphabetical order:
- Acetylcholine (neurotransmitter)
- Anandamide (endocannabinoid/neurotransmitter)
- Endogenous opioids (body generated analgesic)
- Epinephrine (neurotransmitter/hormone)
- Estrogen (hormone)
- Cortisol (steroidal hormone)
- Cytokines (pro- and anti-inflammatory)
- Dopamine (neurotransmitter/hormone)
- GABA (neurotransmitter)
- Ghrelin (hormone)
- Glucagon (hormone)
- Glutamate (neurotransmitter)
- Insulin (hormone)
- Leptin (hormone)
- Norepinephrine (neurotransmitter/hormone)
- Oxytocin (hormone)
- Serotonin (neurotransmitter)
- Testosterone (hormone)
- Vasopressin (hormone)
Leptin (hormone) Leptin is a multipurpose hormone commonly associated with satiation. (See Ligand)
Lipidome: The lipidome is a full accounting of all lipids embedded in the membranes of each individual cell. Cellular membranes can be thought of as the skin of the cell. The skin of our trillions of individual cells is made from lipophilic compounds containing a vast number of lipophilic receptor sites such as CB1 or CB2 for example ready to interact with lipophilic compounds such as cannabinoids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are their essential building blocks. The human body does not make its own PUFAs, thus we must consume them to survive and thrive. PUFAs such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are primary building blocks the body uses to produce endocannabinoids and thus play a significant role in maintaining a healthy ECS.
Lipophilic: Combining the prefix lipo- from the Greek word lipos translated “fat” and the other Greek word phílos translated “love” create the meaning and practical description of “fat-loving” and dissolves easily in fat respectively. Cannabinoids are lipophilic.
Marijuana: A slang term borrowed from Mexican Spanish and commonly used to denigrate the plant and its users by the narrative on the war on drugs.
Meta-analyses typically include a review (statistical or qualitative) of a multitude of already published scientific studies to provide an overview or to extrapolate data or to use them in innovative ways.
Microbiome: The microbiome consists of the human body (the host) and the vast variety of microbial organisms (e.g. viruses, bacteria, fungi) that live within the body and on the surface of the skin. Some microbial members of the “super organism” are disruptive intruders, such as dermatophytes or fungi that cause onychomycosis (foot and nail fungus), for example, while others are beneficial organisms called probiotics.
The connection between probiotics and components of the ECS is only beginning to be understood. For instance, CBD and a number of probiotics including acidophilus have been found to share the ability to modulate PPAR-gamma, which in turn produces anti-inflammatory effects. Oral administration of acidophilus has been shown to reduce pain by modulating the endocannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). Additionally, THC has shown the ability to reduce signs and symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a typically fatal infection, by changing the microbiota in the lungs and the gut of test animals. More specifically, THC significantly increased the presense of beneficial bacteria while decreasing pathogenic bacteria.
Most fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt naturally contain an abundance of probiotic cultures.
Modulator: A compound (e.g. THC, CBD, beta-caryophyllene) that affects or changes the activity of a receptor site (e.g. CB1, CB2), an enzyme (e.g. FAAH), or a biochemical pathway (e.g. metabolism) for example.
Molar or molarity is a measure of the amount/concentration of a dissolved substance (solute) in a solution in a given volume. For example, 1 mol/L is written as 1M. For example, both Kd and Ki affinities are measured in nM units. nM=nano Molar (a factor of one billionth or 0.000 000 001 or 10-9)
Molecules are made up of individual atoms that are held together by chemical bonds.
Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is the enzyme produced and regulated by the human body that breaks down the endocannabinoid 2-AG.
Neurotransmitter is a molecule that transmits a signal across the synaptic cleft, a space between nerve cells.
Norepinephrine (neurotransmitter/hormone) Very similar to epinephrine the general purpose of norepinephrine is to ready the brain and body for action (e.g. fight, flight, freeze). (See Ligand)
Orthosteric binding sites are direct or primary binding sites of a receptor.
Oxytocin (hormone) Oxytocin is a multipurpose ligand that is associated with bonding, birth, and lactation for example. (See Ligand)
Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors or short PPAR’s (pronounced “peepars”) are Nuclear Receptor Proteins modulated by cannabinoids. For example, THC is an agonist of PPAR γ (gamma).
Phenotype: Is a term utilized to delineate the variable observable characteristics such as the shape of a leaf for example. E.g. siblings sharing some of the same visible traits but not others.
Potency: to be precise potency measures need specific definition such as
LD50 —Median Lethal Dose
ED50 —Median Effective Dose
EC50 —Half maximal effective concentration
LC50 —Lethal Concentration 50%
IC50 —Half maximal inhibitory concentration
Pre-clinical trials are not conducted on humans and include laboratory and animal experiments.
Receptor Binding is the value between a cannabinoid and a receptor that inform you of the intensity and duration of the resulting effect and with it the nature of the subsequent actions (e.g. anti-inflammatory, mood-enhancing).
Serotonin (neurotransmitter) Serotonin is associated with the experience of happiness and well-being. (See Ligand)
Silexan Silexan is a lavender oil preparation taken in capsule form. Released in 2010, it was developed in Germany and is approved there for restlessness related to anxiety. Tests of the preparation indicated it is 36% linalool, 34% linalyl acetate, and minor quantities of eucalyptol, borneol, and camphor.
Strain: A strain is an attempt to further differentiate, or to create an additional value ranking, within one of the three prime species of cannabis.
- Pre-clinical trials are not conducted on humans and include laboratory and animal experiments.
- Clinical trials are conducted on humans.
- Laboratory trials (in vitro testing) are experiments that operate under controlled conditions, performing careful measurement, utilizing the scientific method (e.g. observing and measuring the effect of a cannabinoid against a bacteria in a Petri dish).
- Animal trials (in vivo testing) are experiments conducted on animals.
- Meta-analyses typically include a review (statistical or qualitative) of a multitude of already published scientific studies to provide an overview or to extrapolate data or to use them in innovative ways.
- Human trials are human subject research.
- Double-blind placebo controlled trials are considered the “gold” standard for intervention-based scientific investigations. A key characteristic of this type of study is that neither the investigator nor the subject know who gets the drug to be tested or the placebo.
Testosterone (hormone) is the primary male sex hormone. (See Ligand)
Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) Channels pronounced Trips include (aka Ionic Cannabinoid Receptors): TRPA1, TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV4, and TRPM8. (“A” stands for ankyrin), (“V” stands for vanilloid) and (“M” stands for melastatin).Vasopressin (hormone) is a multi-function hormone that is associated with many boldly processes including raising blood pressure. (See Ligand)