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  • by Nicola Boulton September 05, 2022 6 min read


    Cannabinoids are active chemical compounds in cannabis plants, majorly hemp. CBD, THC, and CBN are among the commonly used cannabinoids that you can enjoy in tinctures, edibles, and capsules. Here is all you need to know about how they relate to pain, stress, and sleep and how they work. Learn more about what terpenes help with sleep?

    What Are Cannabinoids?

    Cannabinoids are the active chemical compounds in cannabis plants. There are many plants in the cannabis family, including hemp, marijuana, hash, and shish. They are mostly grouped on the level or concentration of THC, one of the cannabinoids in this blog. There are more than 100 cannabinoids, including CBD, CBN, CBT, CBG, and CBN. They vary in properties while others share similar properties. For instance, Schlienz et al. (2018) noted that THC is psychoactive and makes you high. Meanwhile, Mascal et al. (2019) noted that CBD is non-psychoactive and will not make you high. Still, the two have the same number of atoms, but the molecules are arranged differently, hence the difference in psychosis. According to Elsohly et al. (2002), CBN comes from the oxidation and degradation of THC and is often called 'THC without a high effect.'

    How Do Cannabinoids Work?

    To appreciate the function of cannabinoids and how they relate to sleep, stress, and pain, you must know how they interact with the body or work. How do they work? According to McPartland et al. (2015), cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, resulting in negative or positive effects on the body. The endocannabinoid system is a network of endocannabinoids, enzymes that produce and modulate them, and endocannabinoid receptors to which the endocannabinoids bind. As long as the system runs and the related components perform as expected, all the processes depending on it remain in equilibrium. Di Marzo & Piscitelli (2015) noted that an endocannabinoid imbalance could occasionally occur, resulting in a disruption in the system, and this is where the external cannabinoids like CBN, CBD, and THC come in handy. The studies above note that THC binds to the CB1 receptors, resulting in a high effect. It is unclear how CBD interacts with the ECS, but according to Eskander et al. (2020), its interaction leads to reduced back pain, showing that it positively interacts with the system. Below is what studies say about how the three cannabinoids relate to pain, stress, and sleep issues.

    Cannabinoids for Pain- Can They Help?

    Pain management and relief are primary drivers to why people consume different cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. Can they treat or cure your pain? We do not have enough evidence to prove this. Still, early studies see potential in these cannabinoids, relating how they can help you manage pain. For instance, according to Vučković et al. (2018), CBD helps with acute and chronic pain resulting from neuropathy, cancer, and fibromyalgia. Currently, people of all walks of life take different CBD products to manage pain. How about THC? Kruger & Kruger (2022) reported that delta- 8, a THC variant helps reduce pain, and many cannabis fans like it for its mild psychoactive action. Wong et al. (2019) reported that a combination of CBN and CBD helps reduce pain, and many CBD fans are specific to products with CBN as one of the major components to manage pain. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the FDA has not approved using any of the cannabinoids for pain management.

    Cannabinoids for Stress

    The other primary reason people go for cannabinoids is to manage stress. As the economic conditions get harder every other day, people suffer from mental episodes, and stress, anxiety, and depression are on the rise, and some victims are opting for suicide. Can cannabinoids help you manage stress and other mental issues? Shannon et al. (2019) reported that CBD can help fight pain and stress, helping you sleep better. So far, many CBD users are on the cannabinoid to manage stress. How about THC? Can it help with stress and anxiety? Kruger & Kruger (2022) pointed to delta- 8 THC, a THC variant, helping people manage anxiety. Remember, uncontrolled anxiety results in stress and could be worse. Meanwhile, no studies have reported that CBN can help with stress, although most CBD products for stress feature CBN as one of the key ingredients. Al Ubeed et al. (2022) noted that CBN helped people with PTSD manage its symptoms, but more research is needed to prove this.

    Can You Use Cannabinoids for Sleep?

    People also use cannabinoids to manage sleep issues, although the FDA has not approved this. Shannon et al. (2019) mentioned that by CBD helping people manage stress and anxiety, it can help you sleep better. CBD features in gummies, supplements, and capsules used in managing pain, although the FDA frowns at introducing CBD to edibles. How about THC? Can you take it to boost your sleep quality? Kruger & Kruger (2022) earlier reported that delta- 8 THC can help people sleep better. It is mildly intoxicating, all the more why many are after it. Usami et al. (1998) also reported that CBN may help with pain and insomnia, and most CBD products formulated for sleep feature it as one of the key components.

    How Do You Take Cannabinoids?

    Do you want to take any of the cannabinoids above for pain, sleep, or stress? It is a personal choice. If you do, you must know the forms or products you can go for to exploit the cannabinoids. They include;

    1. Oils and tinctures are the primary way to administer cannabinoids since their sublingual administration ensures the cannabinoid gets to the bloodstream fast, allowing quick results.
    2. Edibles; include gummies, chocolates, and honey sticks that allow you to feel the benefits of the cannabinoids with tastes and not the earthiness of hemp compounds.
    • Vape oils are probably the fastest way to feel the effects of any cannabinoids since inhalation allows them to join the bloodstream for fast effects.
    1. Topicals; most cannabinoids come in topicals like patches, balms, and ointments you can apply to the skin for fast effects.
    2. Capsules; you can take CBD capsules offered for pain stress to mask the bitterness of CBD oil.


    Cannabinoids are the active chemical compounds in cannabis plants. They vary in properties and while some are psychoactive, others do not have the high effect. CBD, CBN, and THC are among the most sought cannabinoids, and people take them for pain, sleep issues, and anxiety, although studies have not fully proved that they can help in this regard. Their function depends on how they interact with the endocannabinoid system, specifically how they bind to the endocannabinoid receptors.


    Al Ubeed, H. M. S., Bhuyan, D. J., Alsherbiny, M. A., Basu, A., & Vuong, Q. V. (2022). A comprehensive review on the techniques for extraction of bioactive compounds from medicinal cannabis. Molecules, 27(3), 604. 

    Di Marzo, V., & Piscitelli, F. (2015). The endocannabinoid system and its modulation by phytocannabinoids. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 692-698.

    Elms, L., Shannon, S., Hughes, S., & Lewis, N. (2019). Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 25(4), 392–397.

    ElSohly, M. A. (2002). Chemical constituents of cannabis (pp. 27-36). Cannabis and cannabinoids. Pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutic potential. Binghamton/New York: Haworth Press.

    Eskander, J. P., Spall, J., Spall, A., Shah, R. V., & Kaye, A. D. (2020). Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment of acute and chronic back pain: A case series and literature review. J Opioid Manag, 16(3), 215-8.

    Kruger, J. S., & Kruger, D. J. (2022). Delta-8-THC: Delta-9-THC’s nicer younger sibling?. Journal of cannabis research, 4(1), 1-8.

    McPartland, J. M., Duncan, M., Di Marzo, V., & Pertwee, R. G. (2015). Are cannabidiol and Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabivarin negative modulators of the endocannabinoid system? A systematic review. British journal of pharmacology, 172(3), 737-753.

    Schlienz, N. J., Lee, D. C., Stitzer, M. L., & Vandrey, R. (2018). The effect of high-dose dronabinol (oral THC) maintenance on cannabis self-administration. Drug and alcohol dependence, 187, 254-260.

    Usami, N., Kobana, K., Yoshida, H., Kimura, T., Watanabe, K., Yoshimura, H., & Yamamoto, I. (1998). Synthesis and pharmacological activities in mice of halogenated δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol derivatives. Chemical and pharmaceutical bulletin, 46(9), 1462-1467.

    Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. (2018). Cannabinoids and pain: new insights from old molecules. Frontiers in pharmacology, 1259.

    Wong, H., & Cairns, B. E. (2019). Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain. Archives of oral biology, 104, 33–39.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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